EPISODE 154

How to Add Social Learning to Your Online Course or Membership Website

This episode of LMScast is a special one, because today we talk about how to add social learning to your online course or membership website with Chris Badgett and Ali Mathis of LifterLMS. Social learning in LifterLMS is built on a foundation of mirroring how the best learning experiences happen in the real world, and then using the internet to bring that to anyone in the world. Chris and Ali touch on what is next for LifterLMS, and where we are going in the future for online learning software as well.

LifterLMS released the Social Learning on October 10, 2017. Humans are social creatures, so we often learn best when we are learning with other people. This allows us to run ideas by peers, solve more advanced problems, and use other people’s perspectives to gain more insight into certain situations. The Social Learning add-on is designed to allow you to integrate this style of leaning into your course or membership site more easily than having to do it all manually.

Having a product or service mimic human interaction and extend it to an online format is how companies like Facebook work. With Facebook, the goal was to take the traditional college experience and put it online. It later shifted to be for anyone who wanted to stay in touch and share their lives with their friends online.

Coaching is often how learning happens in the real world, so running your course with a factory model is not going to enable your students to learn optimally. Peer coaching and having community accountability will help to increase the completion rate of your online products.

Social learning can be formatted to suit almost all types of courses and membership sites. The only place where you would not want to use social learning would be if your course is very personal, and you absolutely need to maintain 100% privacy. Courses with subject matters pertaining to language learning or any type of learning that involves heavy repetition can benefit greatly from social learning.

The Social Learning add-on is comparable to Facebook groups, except you can work the social learning aspect more tightly into your course by providing the features directly in your product. You can involve any amount of people you want in a conversation, ranging from two or three to twenty or fifty people.

Adding more complicated features to your site and more users can slow down your site and affect hosting abilities. Chris and Ali talk about ways you can solve that problem and find a scalable hosting plan that works with your site, especially if you integrate the social learning feature.

To learn more about LifterLMS and the Social Learning add-on, head over to LifterLMS.com. And if you have any questions about if Social Learning is right for you or any questions about the product itself, feel free to shoot us an email and join our Facebook group LifterLMS VIPs.

You can 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 a special guest, Ali Mathis. We’re from LifterLMS, and this is a special episode where we talk about something important in the learning community called social learning. Over at LifterLMS, we just released a product called Social Learning. We’ve been wanting to kind of get the conversation going around these topics having to deal with that. So, Ali, thank you so much for coming back on the show.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, I’m excited. I’ve got lots of questions for you. I hope you’re ready.
Chris Badgett: I’m always ready. I think you’re the most repeat guest we’ve had so far.
Ali Mathis: Wow. Do I get a special badge or something?
Chris Badgett: You get a certificate.
Ali Mathis: Okay.
Chris Badgett: But yeah, social learning just rolled out and for some people that may be like, “What is that?” How do we kind of explore that for the uninitiated?
Ali Mathis: Okay. Well, actually my first question for you is kind of more about where this idea for social learning came from. I’ve heard it floated around a little bit in the community. What made you guys put this next on the road map for Lifter?
Chris Badgett: For us, our approach to software development when we’re really trying to figure out what do we do next or how do we do online education, we like to look at the real world and see how learning happens without computers and the internet. And then mirror how that works in reality, but adding in the online format. So, when we looked at things like how the people actual learn, in most cases or in a lot of cases, they’re not completely isolated from other people. When I look back on my own life and look at some of the best learning experiences of my life, it was very much a social thing. It was often with other people. Not necessarily in traditional classrooms, but sometimes in a regular classroom setting. Some of the best learning experiences, there was a social piece. It wasn’t just about the content. So, that’s why we came to social learning and saw it as a critical missing piece in the online education space.
Ali Mathis: Okay. So, tell me a little bit more about what you mean by social learning, ’cause it sounds like a really big concept.
Chris Badgett: I think it’s a mistake when we talk about things like membership sites, we see learning management systems, especially Lifter, as an evolution beyond just premium content that’s locked down. It’s an online course tool, so curriculum and content is organized into a path or a learning journey of sorts. But, there’s more to learning than just content and organization of content. And, tracking of interaction with the content like with reporting in a learning management system. So, that’s what we’re talking about here. We wanted to bring in more human interaction like we’ve done with the private areas add on, where it’s kind of private between the teacher and the student, where they can have a conversation. It’s not just about the content or the reporting about how Johnny did on the quiz. There can actually be coaching, which is kind of how learning happens in the real world. Things get a little bit personalized and unique and tailored to Johnny. If you care about maximum results. If you’re running a factory model, you may not be into things like private coaching or community, ’cause these things take more active involvement.
But, I think, especially in the online space, there’s been a little bit of a … In some ways, over-glorification of passive income. Make money while you sleep, put your marketing, and your product on autopilot and automate everything while you sit back on a beach drinking martinis while people take your course. But, that’s not how … It’s more than just content and people running through a system to reach a learning objective. So, the social learning piece just brings in that place where students can interact with each other and not feel like they’re in a ghost town of a website just all alone, even though they’re not.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, when I hear the word “Social”, I think of social media, which I think probably a lot of people think of. How do you see this social learning plugin in relationship to social media and how much was it influenced by social media, the decision to develop this?
Chris Badgett: It is influenced in some ways by social media, if you look at something like Facebook. The way it works … The reason Facebook works and does what it does and became so popular is because from a grassroots level, it’s designed to mimic how human relationships happen in real life. For example, you know who your friends’ friends are. So, then maybe they might be your friends. Or, you could send your friend a private message. You could call them on the phone. You could talk to them in the street. You could share. Like, when you go out to dinner with friends in real life, the conversation around the dinner table is kind of like what happens on a Facebook post. People are sharing and comments ensue. Good, bad, ugly. The thing is with the internet, once you get that baseline …
Your baseline memetic or sort of mirroring of what’s happening in real life in the online format, you also get a little bit of a bionic superpower, because the internet can do things that in real life we can’t, which isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s worse. For example, like in Facebook, I believe it’s Dunbar’s number that we can really only keep up with 150 relationships in the real world. Otherwise, we just can’t keep track of that many people. I’ve got 2,000 friends on Facebook and …
Ali Mathis: That’s all?
Chris Badgett: I don’t know. I actually probably have a lot less than that.
Ali Mathis: I think the maximum is 5,000 but, go ahead.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, and then your turn into a celebrity or a page.
Ali Mathis: Right.
Chris Badgett: But, then there’s Facebook Groups, which is kind of more in line with social learning, ’cause it’s around the specific topic. In LifterLMS land, it’s around a course or a membership. Just like with Facebook, you could have a conversation with five, two, or one friend at a dinner table. Or, 20 people, 50 people at a party. But, on Facebook the whole world can come to that party, if it’s a hot topic. Which is good and bad. People sometimes lose their filter online, but that’s a whole nother topic. So, social learning in LifterLMS is built on a foundation of mirroring how the best learning experiences happen in the real world, but then once that’s established we’re going for even bigger goals around how do we take this amazing tool that is the internet and connectivity to anybody in the world and leverage that in a learning context?
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, private areas and social learning are both sort of two puzzle pieces of the infinity bundle. How do you see those two things working together in an ideal situation?
Chris Badgett: I think if you’re a coach or a leader or a teacher, instructor, whatever you go by … A lot of times people build different kinds of learning platforms, but theoretically, you can have your cake and eat it, too. What I mean by that is, you could have a passive income online course that sells for say $100 for a course around a certain topic and it’s completely automated and people get a lot of great content out of it. And, you’re using the tools in LifterLMS to create a really engaging experience that people actually complete the course and have doing it. But, with private areas for example, you could offer the course plus coaching. Let’s say that includes weekly training calls, and then conversation around some custom exercises or whatever that comes out of that. Let’s say that’s a thousand dollar program. And, by the way, in that premium offer, there’s also access to a good community.
Or, even in the passive version. Let’s say you can add the community there, too. In that case, you could probably raise the price. It’s a popular quote in the membership site community. When people are talking about successful membership sites, they hear from their students over and over again that people came for the content, but they stay for the community.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: Like in a Facebook group, a good one, it takes on a whole life of its own. Conversations around the clock, 24/7. It becomes a strong community. More than just the person who owned it or started it. Some people might not even know who started or who the admins are on certain Facebook groups. They just kind of took on a life of their own. But, social learning is more like that but focused around a course or a membership. From my own life, if I look at things like some of the outdoor leadership and wilderness survival type stuff. Or, exploring some of the far corners of the globe. When I was doing that with other people, what my conversations with those other people while we were in the learning process was a part of the learning process. And, that’s the entire point of social learning.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). With private areas, we use the example when it launched a lot, we talked a lot about how … For example, it was a great fit for everybody really, but for health and wellness based people. Is there a certain niche that you see social learning being most applicable to and can you give us all some examples of some ways some instructors might be able to … Like, if I have a course now, how would I want to start integrating this to make my course even better?
Chris Badgett: I think it’s really applicable to just about every niche. The only place it doesn’t fit is where privacy just trumps everything. So, if people who are in the course don’t want other people … They don’t want to talk to anybody. They want to get the material, they want to get the content, but they want it to be totally anonymous, social learning is not for that. But, even in some places where you think that might not be the case, there is an opportunity there as long as trust is built. I’ll give some examples. So, the three main niches that I like to talk about are health, wealth, and relationships.
If we look at health, I was just listening to a podcast the other day. If I remember which one it was is the name of it, I will mention it as I’m talking here. But, there was a guy … It was on a James Shramko podcast which is called Superfast Business and he was interviewing one of his members about … This particular member had started a membership site focused around a particular … I believe it was an autoimmune disorder. So, basically a health issue. And, he had found some ways to work with that issue that allowed people to get off medication and get some forward progress. Not heal entirely, but have a much higher quality of life.
Ali Mathis: Gotcha.
Chris Badgett: And, he kind of created a course around that. And then, he had a coaching element involved in that. And then, just when he was about to kill the entire project, because just the coaching was totally out of hand. He had a forum group where people could interact with each other, but they weren’t really using it. And, just as he was about to kill it, because it was totally unsustainable, all the sudden the community, people started talking to each other and using the forum. Then, it took on a whole life of its own. Now there’s leaders in the community who help people and point people back to conversations that had already happened about certain things. That’s an example in the health space.
I think a classic example in the wealth space would be the entrepreneur, especially the newer entrepreneur or startup where if I have a course about how to start freelancing as a WordPress agency, I can create a course like that. And, I can provide coaching about that. And, also it’s possible to have … I know when I was starting with my own agency, I would have loved to have a community of three, five, 10, 1,000, 10,000 other people doing the same thing. And, if we look at some of the private communities around that like Troy Dean’s WP Elevation comes to mind. That’s a huge community. He has courses, membership. I don’t know if he does coaching, but it’s a thriving community of people running WordPress agencies. He calls them the WordPress consultants.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: So, that’s an example. In the relationships space, if we go to something like the parenting niche inside of relationships. You know, first time parents. Lots of questions. You can have a course. One of the most popular books in the bookstore is What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Almost everybody gets that book at some point, if you’re going to become a parent. I don’t know if those guys have a course or not, but they could. And then, a community of people could form around parenting topics and I think that’s an important one too to note. Just like … A lot like the health example I described. But, especially with this parenting example. Communities can be just temporary. So, you’re only a new parent for a little bit.
Ali Mathis: Right. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Some people have lots of kids and they keep going through it, but they may not need the community that they needed before they had their first one. It might not be as important.
Ali Mathis: Yeah, absolutely.
Chris Badgett: I think the concept of a temporary community is also really cool, which ties into something that I believe in with courses and memberships. I’m not actually a fan of lifetime access.
Ali Mathis: Why not?
Chris Badgett: I think it’s cool, but if a course does its job or a community does its job, in most cases it’s not for forever. I mean, like family and stuff like that is forever. But, you’re only an emerging startup for a certain amount of time. Or, you’re only a first time parent for a little bit.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: And, there are cases for lifetime, but I think when we think about things like coaching, private coaching, and private communities, it takes a lot of the stress off of the site owner or the course creator to not necessarily feel like you have to commit for a lifetime.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: Because, if your stuff is good, you’re going to help people get the result they came for and they don’t necessarily need to hang around forever.
Ali Mathis: Right. So, I want to go back to something you said a few minutes ago about having thousands or tens of thousands of people interacting on your site. And, this is a question we hear a lot. So, I wanted to touch on it. What about hosting and system requirements? If you’re going to add something like social learning to your Lifter site, do you need to worry about different system requirements? Do you have a hosting recommendation? Is it going to crash my site if I add it? Those sorts of questions. Can you touch on those?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it’s important just at the high level when you look at your website, is it a brochure? Like a marketing site that has like five, 10, 20 pages and a blog on it that helps promote your offline business or whatever? Or, is the website the business? ‘Cause, if the website is the business, it needs the respect that it deserves, which means it needs a good home. It’s more than just a brochure in a rack that you walk by in a way into a restaurant. It is the restaurant. Often times when the website is the business, by the very nature of it, it’s more than just information. It’s more complicated. It’s more of what we would consider a web application.
That being said, that’s why I’m a huge fan of managed WordPress hosting that has a staging environment, backups in place, quality technical support that you can contact when you do have problems. One of the reasons that we built social learning from the ground up … We’ve always integrated with a tool called BuddyPress, which is a free WordPress plugin that kind of creates like a Facebook in a box. We wanted to create social learning from the ground up for many reasons. Mostly to focus it like a laser around the needs of learning and a community for courses and memberships. And, have no extra bloat, if you will.
But, the other reason is when we do that, the plugin can remain as light as it can be. Or, the code. Which means you can … It’s not as hard on the server as something that does more than you need. That being said, if you’re going to have … What makes a website heavy or more complicated, more features. Lots of users. And, lots of user interactions. So, the community is definitely going to create more interactions, so I would simply recommend a scalable hosting solution like WPEngine or your platform that can scale up with you.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: Usually a 10,000 person community doesn’t happen overnight. Usually, it’s your and your mom and your friends. And then, as it goes you’ll notice if your site slows down or the hosting company contacts you and lets you know that you’re getting … You’re starting to use up too many resources and you can grow with you.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: A good managed WordPress host is affordable to get in with and then can grow with you. Then it’s up to you as the entrepreneur to design an offer so that you can cover your expenses as you grow.
Ali Mathis: Okay. So, speaking of BuddyPress, there are a lot of Lifter users out there that are currently integrating with BuddyPress. What happens to them when social learning comes along? Do they have to pick one or the other?
Chris Badgett: That’s a great question. And, there’s also BBPress, which is a forum software.
Ali Mathis: Right.
Chris Badgett: So, I think it’s about thinking about where do you want your community. Do you want it on BuddyPress, which is kind of like Facebook in a box with friends and all these other things? Do you want to just use forums for your community? A lot of people … Not a lot of people talk about this, but I see a lot of dead forums. And, the reason for that is forums are really hard to get going. And, some people, especially non-technical people aren’t really comfortable or familiar with how forums work. Do you want your community not even on your website? You can totally have a course on your site and then have a private Facebook group and then you’re good to go.
Ali Mathis: Sure.
Chris Badgett: Or, you could have something like social learning on your site. If you’re already using BuddyPress or bbPress, you just have to decide. I would say try it out, see what you think. I could definitely see a case for keeping forums, but using Lifter for the social part, ’cause forums are more organized and structured. Whereas … Think about Facebook, it’s just a feed and it just kind of goes and goes and goes. Where a forum can be more structured and organized around topics and that sort of thing.
Ali Mathis: Right.
Chris Badgett: But, BuddyPress is great. It’s not going away as an integration. And, it can work for people who are happy with it. They don’t need to worry about that.
Ali Mathis: Right. Okay. Great. This is the last question. Where do you see the infinity bundle going after now that we’ve launched private areas and social learning, what are the next sort of steps?
Chris Badgett: The next steps are … First of all, we’re always improving on what comes before. So, you’ve likely seen the first version of social learning and new updates roll out. Like, in LifterLMS, I don’t know how many hundreds of versions of software has rolled out. So, things will continue to evolve with those. But, in terms of what comes into the focus after social learning is another key piece about how we learn in the real world, which is through feedback, assessments, and quizzes. So, we’re going to be working on our … Evolving the quiz system to have more question types, both automated and ones requiring manual grading, which then again comes back to how does learning happen in the real world? Well, a lot of times, you can’t automate the student evaluation. There’s an actual instructor, coach, or leader there who is going to qualitatively evaluate whatever the test was on.
Ali Mathis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Badgett: So, we’re going to be unpacking that whole animal next.
Ali Mathis: Cool. That’s exciting. That’s one I see in the community a lot. That request, so. That will be a fun one to unpack.
Chris Badgett: Absolutely.
Ali Mathis: Well, thanks for answering my questions. I give you an A.
Chris Badgett: Thanks. Well, that was a lot of fun. I appreciate that. Those are some good questions. And, if anybody out there listening to this has any questions about social learning, trying to figure out if it’s right for you, just head on over to LifterLMS.com. Scroll down to the bottom of the website. You can see where you can contact us and just shoot us whatever questions you have. In the spirit of social learning, come on over to Facebook and join the LifterLMS VIP Facebook Group, if you haven’t yet. That’s our social community on the web. There’s all kinds of action over there and good conversations to get involved with if you are passionate about online courses, membership sites, learning management systems, and creating engaging learning platforms. Ali, thank you so much for coming on the show.
Ali Mathis: Anytime.
Chris Badgett: We’ll have to do it again next time and you can keep your record.
Ali Mathis: Yeah. Oh yeah.
Chris Badgett: We’ll put it on a leaderboard.
Ali Mathis: You know I’m very competitive. Thanks, Chris.
Chris Badgett: Alright. Well, thanks for listening everyone. And, we’ll catch you in the next one.

EPISODE 153

Simplicity Entrepreneurship and Coaching Concepts For Course Creators with Milana Leshinsky

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is on Simplicity entrepreneurship and coaching concepts for course creators with Milana Leshinsky. Milana has a lot of great experiences with online business and working as a coach. Chris and Milana discuss all kinds of different aspects of what she does, and what simplicity is all about in business.

The idea of Simplicity entrepreneurship is focused on building and growing your business, but keeping it simple and stress free. It is possible to have success without sacrifice, and that is what Simplicity is all about. Milana surveyed her community to find out what simplicity meant to them in business. She found that people see simplicity as how they want to feel in their business. They want to have a sense of peace and balance, no sense of urgency, and results that come with ease. This is what Simplicity Circle is built around.

Milana is an immigrant from Soviet Ukraine, formerly trained as a classical musician. She came to America and moved away from music, and turned into a web designer and web programmer. She realized that being a technician was not her thing, so she started a business in coaching and online marketing. She shares her story of how she went from making the same amount of money at a business that didn’t make her happy to how she ended up making the same amount working less hours at a business that did make her happy.

It is important to balance work and life, or create a stress free work environment all together, because disease emanates from dis-ease. Chris and Milana discuss this in depth. They also discuss how you own all 24 hours of your day, and if you fill them with work, you are more likely to be stressed and not enjoy what you do.

In order to be successful as an online educator you need four things. You need to have expertise, the ability to create digital products, curriculum, and you need to be able to build a community. Chris and Milana talk about these points and how to approach each one and make the process for course creation as simple as possible. Creating a clear starting point and a clear ending point in your online content will keep things simple and help you stay focused.

There is not a clear right and wrong way to do things in business anymore, because it evolves so fast. Integrating customer response and a Q&A format into your course will help keep your students engaged and attentive. Keeping your content brief will also help them digest the content easier and apply it in their lives.

To learn more about Milana Leshinsky check out SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted. There you will find an assessment to see where you are in your business and how much complexity you have right now. You will find some tips on how to get connected with the Simplicity community, and how you can get started with creating a business that gives you the shortest path to the result you want to accomplish.

You can 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. Today I’m joined with a special guest, Milana Leshinsky from SimplicityCircle.com. She’s all about simplicity entrepreneurship, and she has a lot of awesome experiences in her life and has done a lot with online business over the years and worked in developing as a coach. We’re going to get into all kinds of different aspects of what she does and what simplicity is all about, but for Milana, thanks for coming on the show.
Milana: Hey, Chris. It’s awesome to be here. Thank you.
Chris: I’m super excited for this LMScast and the LifterLMS audience to meet you. I really enjoyed meeting your crew over at the Simplicity Circle.
Milana: Hope you had a lot of fun.
Chris: That was a lot fun. We did a Facebook Live together, and I’m sure we’re going to be doing more together. We’ll have to do a Facebook Live. I’m actually signing up for Blive and doing it for something else soon. You got me going down that train, but we’ll have to do a Blive with our Facebook group one of these days.
Milana: My favorite part, Chris, was when I was looking for somebody to test Blive with, and I posted a message on my Facebook group and said, “Will somebody test it with me? I’m interviewing Chris tomorrow,” and then there you were. You were willing to test it with me.
Chris: I was actually just getting ready to ask someone else to test it with me. I was like, “Well I guess great minds think alike, right?”
Milana: Yeah, that was awesome.
Chris: For those of you listening, I’d encourage you to head on over to SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted. What can people find over there, Milana?
Milana: The whole idea of Simplicity entrepreneurship is focused around building a business, growing your business, but keeping it simple. Keeping your independence, your sanity, your lifestyle that you want. You can grow your business and you can scale it, but you don’t have to sacrifice. Like some people say success without sacrifice, that’s kind of what it is. The cool thing is that Simplicity is different for everybody. I actually did a survey of everybody who was joining my Facebook group, I have a community on Simplicity entrepreneurship on Facebook. Before you can join, I asked you a question what does simplicity mean to you?
I noticed a pattern that some people see simplicity as how they want to feel in their business, like peace, balance, no sense of urgency, results come with ease. It’s a hustle-free business. It’s a stress-free business. You get clarity, you feel efficient. It’s low maintenance. People were using words like staying focused, effortlessness, spaciousness, freedom of time. It’s like how they want to feel. Then there’s a whole other category of responses is that where people describe what their business should look like when it’s a simplicity based business. Some people will say things like, “I want a step by step system for getting clients or having a team to delegate all the crap to.” Working no more than 20 hours a week, lots of space on my calendar to think. Clear vision, not haven’t to have 10 funnels centered around passion.
Working with clients more and doing everything else less. That’s more like what the business looks like when you have applied simplicity. Neither one of these categories or responses have addressed the thing that I address in my Simplicity Circle, and that is how do you get there. That’s what I focus on in Simplicity Circle. That’s what my Facebook group is all about. The ultimate goal is to get rid of 80% of stuff and the 20% remaining will have the highest payoff, both financially and emotionally and that’s what people want. Whether they realize it or not, that’s what we all want. We want simplicity. We want more ease. We just don’t necessarily know how to get there, and a lot of people don’t believe they can. A lot of people don’t believe that you can have simplicity and have a profitable business, and I can tell you yes you can.
I have had two businesses. One was based on simplicity, working four hours a day, raising two small children, making half a million dollars from home, and then I had another business making about the same amount of money but I was working three times as long every day and I was miserable. Yes you can, if you understand the simplicity principles.
Chris: That’s really cool, and that contrast I’m sure is helpful to be like, “Oh same results, but one with a lot more ease.” That makes a lot of sense.
Milana: I guess I didn’t answer your question. What people will find at that link, SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted is you’ll get started with simplicity. It’ll give you an assessment to see where you are in your business, how much complexity you have right now. It’ll get you into my community on Facebook. It’ll give you some tips on how to get started with simplicity principles in your business.
Chris: That’s awesome. As somebody who’s really into online education, there’s a lot of talk about great things like simplicity or less chaos or more manageable life, but what people need is they need help getting there. They need the steps. They need the how-to. They need tools to help them.
Milana: And the mindset.
Chris: And the mindset. I love where you’re going with all that. It makes a lot of sense to me. We’ll talk about it in more detail a little bit. A community swell is happening around this concept with you because you’re producing results for people and you’re taking them on a journey. Tell us a little bit before we get into more of the simplicity stuff, just about you. If you run into somebody at a cocktail party or whatever and they’re like “What’s your life story in two minutes?” What makes you what you are.
Milana: An immigrant from Soviet Ukraine, formerly trained as a classical musician. Coming to America, moved away from music and turned into a technician as in a web designer, web programmer, realizing it’s completely not my thing and started a business in coaching and online marketing. That wasn’t two minutes.
Chris: Wow. That is good. That is really good. That was one of the best I’ve ever heard. That’s incredible.
Milana: As I took a break between my two businesses, because I walked away from my $1 million business last year, it was generating $1.4 million in revenue. I was meeting about the same as in my previous business, and I just wasn’t happy. I actually tell my story a little bit on a deeper level is I started having panic attacks as a result of being in the wrong business or being overwhelmed, being surrounded by the wrong people, the wrong ideas. Just something just didn’t work for me, and so I walked away from the business. I had a break, and during that break I realized that I am still creating music. I actually wrote and recorded my first piece of music officially, a professional recording. It’s on my website at Milana.com/blog. I’ve always wanted to have a music tab at the top of website, and so far I’m getting really good feedback.
It’s a different kind of music. It’s more like cinematic versus a diddly song.
Chris: That’s really beautiful. I always like to say that the body has a lot of wisdom in it. It will revolt, and in my experience I like to think of disease as coming from dis-ease. Having things going on in your life or stressors, that’s where a lot of …
Milana: Lack of ease.
Chris: … yeah, a lot of health issues come from. Losing touch with yourself, I’ve definitely as an entrepreneur and just with young kids making things happen, making life happen, building a business, building a team, marketing, getting clients, making systems, I actually started a habit. For those of you watching in YouTube, you can see I’m in an attic. I’m actually between locations. I’m in the process of moving into a new house that hasn’t closed yet. Normally behind me in my office I have all these whiteboards, I have notebooks, I have journals where I’m working on my business ideas and stuff.
In order to help, like what you’re doing with music, I ended up keeping this little black book, for those of you watching on YouTube, that whenever I have a hint of an idea of stuff that I think about that I used to enjoy as a kid or things that really matter to me or that I just enjoy that have nothing to do with my work or my business, I write it down. That way, I’m not letting all that stuff just constantly get buried or prioritized over. That’s been really helpful to me. I’m guilty as charged of having let that stuff pile up. Then sleep starts getting affected and so on, and then all of a sudden I lose touch.
Now I actually make a conscious effort to just make sure I keep tabs on those things that I enjoy outside of work.
Milana: For sure. That’s interesting. I had two small children. Now they’re grown. They’re 17 and 22, and I noticed that the older they got, the more free time I started having in my life. The dangers of that is that you can end up filling that free time with work. I did that I would say for many years. I was like, “Oh my god, my daughter can now stay at her friend’s house without me. That means I can work,” or “My son is now spending the night at his friend’s house. That means I can actually be on the computer at midnight and not worry about that.” I started filling up my days with more work. I don’t know how it happened. I think I was trying to lose weight or do something more active, and I called a local dance studio and asked them, “Do you teach hiphop? It sounds like fun.”
You see, this is why I’m attracted to your baseball cap. I was like, “I always wanted to do a hiphop dance wearing a baseball cap.” They said, “No, but would you be interested in cha-cha?” I thought that sounds pretty cool. I saw cha-cha when I was growing in Soviet summer camps. Kids were dancing. I was really intrigued by that, and so I signed up. Ever since then, my free time has now been filled with things like dancing, writing music or just playing piano, which is literally standing behind me, my lovely instrument. I started doing a little bit more yoga, I started biking. In other words, I don’t even know how single people do this or people without children because you do own your entire day. 24 hours a day are yours to do whatever you wish with.
If you choose to, you could fill it up with work 24/7. When I became aware of that, I realized, “Whoa, wait a minute. I really don’t want to be working this much.” I started finding other things, like life beyond business.
Chris: Awesome.
Milana: I think that’s important.
Chris: I’m sure a lot of people listening out there can relate. Maybe you’re struggling out there with being a little bit of out of touch with yourself or you’re in that hustle mode and you’re just wondering what’s happening or why you’re not happy or whatever. This is some important self-inquiry to do, no matter what stage you’re at. Let’s shift over to, in honor of simplicity, a lot of the course creators and membership site owners out there listening have heard me say that it takes four things to be successful as an online educator and building a business around that. You need to have expertise, you need to be able to create digital products or instructional design, create curriculum, videos, and package all that into some kind of course concept.
You need to use technology to actually deliver all that and accept money and that kind of thing. Then you have to be a community builder. It’s very rare that all those skills are just naturally in most people. People are sometimes good at one or the other, or they build a team around their weaknesses. There’s all kinds of strategies for coping with this. Let’s run that through the lens of simplicity. If I’m an expert, and let’s say I’m a fitness trainer, and I’m really good at teaching some really niche form of fitness in my local gym, but I want to experiment with making courses online, how do I think about my expertise? How do I simplify just this concept that I’m good at something? How do I wrap my head around expertise?
Milana: You can think about it in many different ways. I like to think about tangible topics that have a tangible outcome. That’s the biggest challenge I’ve seen, a lot of people in the coaching author speaking expert information marketing industry have encountered, and especially true for years up until recently, is that they will attempt to download the entire knowledge bucket that they have into a product. I did that back in 2008. I remember it like it was yesterday. I created a program called Coaching Business Mastery, and I charged $5,000 for it. I enrolled eight people, so that was really, really cool. What happened next was absolute insanity because every week I would walk people through a module. Through this is how you use your website to build your coaching business.
Theoretically, or actually more practically, this topic could be a separate course of its own, how to use your website to build your coaching business, right? It was only one module of an eight-week program, and then the next week I would talk about how to create a membership site as a supplemental income to your coaching practice. It would be just one week. Now later on, I developed a separate course just on the topic of membership sites, but you se what was happening is a lot of people will say, “I know all of this. This is my subject area, so I’m going to put all of that into a course or on paper,” and not only are they overwhelming the potential customer, they also overwhelm themselves. There’s just too much to teach, too much to deliver, too much to include to wrap their mind around everything.
I would suggest when you’re creating the course in your area of expertise, choose a smaller outcome.
Chris: That’s great.
Milana: That would be my expertise, my advice.
Chris: I really love that. The example that’s popping in my head as you were talking, I was just imagining the Dalai Lama creating a course.
Milana: On personal growth.
Chris: Right. Really if I was going to advise the Dalai Lama on course creation based on what you just said there Milana, I would say, “Well maybe not just a course on personal growth, but let’s start with a course on forgiveness or let’s start with a course on meditation.” That’s a really good point.
Milana: Exactly. Then what happens once you determine what topic you want to focus on or what outcome you want to focus on, then you just create a transformation trajectory, so to speak. From A to Z, these are the steps required to achieve this outcome, and when the outcome is specific and measurable and small, it’s a lot easier to market this course and it’s a lot easier for people to consume and get results, which means that you’re going to get testimonials, you’re going to get customers to buy your future courses. It’s just a good way to look at course development overall, is focus on a smaller outcome.
Chris: That’s great. You just got into the second area, which is instructional design or developing a curriculum. If you have a clear starting point and a clear end point, that’s what it’s all about. I think that’s actually one of the biggest issues is not having a clear starting point, not having a clear finish line is just such an important part of instructional design. What would you advise people in terms of, okay, I have a character arc or a trajectory that they should go on to achieve this outcome. How do I know if I should be making video or audios or get transcriptions or do webinars? What would your advice be or experience around which forms of communication do I use?
Milana: Assuming that you want to reach all kinds of different learner types, you would probably want to offer all of those. What is the starting point? The starting point should be whatever format that you are most comfortable with. If you like to write and that is your primary form of expressing concepts, if that’s how you teach, then you start by writing and then you can turn that into an audio by recording it or maybe a video by reading a transcript in front of a teleprompter. The starting point would be writing. For me, what I’ve done is my starting point are slides.
Chris: That’s cool.
Milana: I don’t know if it’s my background as a music educator, but somehow I was always thinking in terms of slides and I would have the main idea and three teaching points, the main idea and three teaching points. I would just narrate each slide, and bam, I would have a little video that is slide based. Then what I would do is I would have it transcribed and offer it in written format because I hate writing, and I’m very slow as a writer. I can interact and I can communicate my ideas by looking at the slide, reading the bullet points and elaborating on each one. That’s my starting point.
There are people, especially if you’re creating a course that requires more of a visual component like if you’re teaching martial arts or dancing or anything like that, then it makes sense really to probably start as a visual component. I will say that there is a general, I don’t know if it’s a rule or it’s just a habit that I have developed as a way of creating a curriculum, and that is keep your content to a minimum and allow people to then discover more of what they need by asking the questions. I know we’re talking about course creation as in you create a course, you put that out there and you sell it. The way I’ve always created my courses was I would develop a cheat sheet, an outline, and I would deliver that. Then I would pause and say, “What kind of questions do you have?”
Over the years, the ratio between the content and the Q&A has evolved in my life. I used to deliver 75 minute, 125 slide presentation for each module, and then I would be like five minutes, “Any questions?” Now 2017 I’ve been in business for 17 years, micro learning. I think you said those words too. Micro learning has become a trend. People don’t want those long, content rich modules. Most people don’t I should say. Maybe if you’re a newbie, you’re looking for more of a comprehensive approach to content. Most people just want, “Give me what I need. Allow me to discover things for myself and then ask you questions.” Now my training courses are like this: 15 minutes of content, and then I pause and I say, “What did you hear? Any insights? Any observations? Any ideas? Any questions? Any obstacles that you foresee in implementing this?”
The rest of the delivery involves me answering questions and opening new potential topics that I should have included but I didn’t think of it, which is great because now it’s part of it and I didn’t have to work hard at coming up with that content.
Chris: That’s awesome. We’re all about feedback loops and how important it is to have a dialogue there. I love this concept you’re really bringing up about some of the most powerful teaching. This is, if I look back at my own experience learning, when the light bulb goes off inside my own head, more than just learning the right stuff or telling me how to think or what to think, that’s where the real learning happens and where it sticks, when you create an epiphany inside somebody, and that’s often done through questions and setting up the story or whatever. It’s a different way of teaching them here is the best material, absorb that, have a good day. That’s not really how the best learning works.
Milana: Actually the way that I designed my simplicity program, I’ve always had these training courses, here’s step one, step two, step three, how you do things. What I’ve been finding is that everybody’s so different, everybody has different natural abilities or what I call super skills when you do something and the results come easy, those are your super skills. Everybody has different learning style, implementations now, communication style. Why would I force somebody to do things in a certain way, and that’s the way you do it? I decided that when I would create my program for this new business that I started this year, I would respect and honor the differences in each entrepreneur, in each business owner, in each course creator or coach, author, speaker.
Helping them discover what works for them and then implementing. That’s why I developed a series of tools that tell you are you a teacher, builder, connector or champion? What type of business owner are you? Based on your response, this is how you market yourself. This ish ow you price yourself. This is how you create your offer. If I simply told you that you need a $5,000 coaching program, you would probably resist. You would probably feel inadequate, a lot of self-doubt, feeling like you just can’t do it and you have to force yourself. If you come to that conclusion yourself based on your natural abilities and your lifestyle goals, then you will be a lot more motivated. You’ll be on fire because it came from you and it fits your natural abilities.
Chris: Beautiful. Personalized learning. That’s such a great tip there. Let’s look at the technology piece a little bit. How do we as education entrepreneurs bring simplicity to our relationship with technology? The Internet’s awesome. There’s all these tools and apps and softwares and marketing services we can sign up for. How do we keep it simple?
Milana: It’s funny because I remember when I first started my business there was this really big area of information marketing, and that is digital security where people are really concerned that if you create your course and you put it out there, somebody else is going to steal it and sell it. That was probably the biggest question I got back in early 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005. Up until that point people were really concerned. You know what, every single product I created was stolen and sold on eBay for $1. It was a legitimate concern. For that reason, people were trying to create barriers for access. You have to enter this password, and when you do that, it’ll email you the actual password to open up the file that will give you a link somewhere on the website to actually access the course and the materials.
That has become a challenge for a lot of people because they would buy your product and they couldn’t open it, and they would ask for a refund. I think people get smarter since then. Here’s what started happening. What started to happen is that please go ahead and steal my product. It’s okay. What I’m going to do is I’m going to plant a whole bunch of links into it to my other products. People stopped worried about the digital theft as much.
Chris: Now it’s free marketing, right?
Milana: It’s free marketing, right. Hey something is selling on eBay for $1? Hundreds of people have bought it? That means that hundreds of people have seen my links to my website where they can buy more. People got smarter about that. The way that I approach technology today is I try to use as little of it a possible and only when I absolutely must. For example, there is this thing about membership sites where you get recommendations for what kind of platform to use. When people would come to me and say, “I’m not a technologically savvy person. That’s why I cannot start a membership site,” I would tell them, “That’s okay, don’t use a membership platform of any kind. Simply email your customers the content. Then email them the conference line if you’re doing Q&A calls.” That’s it.
They were like, “Whoa.” I just blew their mind. Use technology as you must and no more. In fact, that’s what simplicity is all about. Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler. If you need a platform to achieve a particular goal, at least you know that that’s the goal that you’re looking for. There is a social media software that was recommended to me, and when I looked at all the features, I realized it’s great. It has high rate of use, but I don’t think I really need this because my way of using social media does not align with the features that they’re offering. I would say don’t start with technologies or tools, start with what you need to achieve and then look for the software or the platform that allows you to accomplish those goals. I think that’s a much simpler way to approach technology, don’t you think Chris?
Chris: I love it.
Milana: As the creator of LifterLMS?
Chris: Yeah, I spend a lot of time talking people out of using certain features of our product. Maybe you don’t need to use the memberships, you’re just doing courses, and that’s cool. What I’ve noticed in this industry is a lot of times, especially new education entrepreneurs get hung up on the technology and it’s failure to launch, failure to start because of technology. The reality is and this would be my advice to people, and I think Danny [inaudible 00:28:45] is a big champion of this idea of doing a pilot version of your course. If you want to teach online and you think technology is getting in your way, all you need is a PayPal account and email and a Skype or a conference line or whatever. That’s it.
You can start and do a high touch version of your teaching live online. You can collect the money through PayPal, which allows you to send invoices or whatever. That’s like four pieces of technology: PayPal, email and then some kind of Skype or conference call, or maybe even meet them in person. Before you get fancy, try that.
Milana: What’s that going to allow you to do is actually generate income before you’re invested to any technology. Once you run your membership site or membership program or your course, you’re going to make money. You’re going to generate revenue from all the customers, and then it won’t feel as, “Oh my god, I got to learn the technology. I’ve got to invest into maybe some support. I’ve got to invest in the technology itself.” It feels overwhelming, and like you said, failure to launch due to fear of technology, that’s the most inefficient, unproductive reason not to launch whatever content, whatever product or course you want to put out. That’s not a good reason.
Chris: Absolutely. Let’s shift gears into one of your strong points, which is community building. You’ve had a lot of experience in this industry over the years. You’ve seen others build communities. You’ve built communities yourself. How do we apply simplicity entrepreneurship principles to the concept of community building? There’s two sides to that coin. The first side is the marketing side or just I’m building an audience or a community, I’m giving free value, there’s that community. Then there’s the community that becomes your inner circle or your paid members or the people who bought your thing. I always think of those two sides, but just building that initial audience or building the email list or building the Facebook group, how do we think about all this?
Milana: Not only have I built communities, I’ve also done a lot of research as how to grow a community because I was really interested in bringing people together. Let me tell you a little bit about the company that I left because that community was phenomenal and that was probably the biggest reason I regretted leaving. Not that I wanted to stay, but that’s the one thing that I felt really proud of playing a major role in creating or co-creating that community. What was happening is that we were selling a training program, and that everybody would get into the program and immediately into the Facebook group, which is like an instant community. What was happening is people were starting to implement, which is a huge key to building a community. You want people to get implementing.
For course developers, it’s community and a course is a match made in heaven. You have an instant reason for people to interact and support each other, give each other feedback. Yes, you are the leader of the community as the creator of the course, but it doesn’t mean that you are the only person giving feedback and managing that community. People are going to start self-managing and giving each other support. The other piece that we’re doing is we were inviting people to a live event. We immediately noticed that when people would arrive at a live event, they were hugging each other. Meeting for the first time, they were hugging each other. It was a complete love fest. I wondered how did we do that? How did we facilitate this love fest? People who have never met suddenly running into the room, into each other’s arms, like, “There you are.”
How did we do that? What I learned is that that online community and bringing people together, so implementation and having each other’s support, sharing challenges and giving each other advice, it brought people together. They did that not only online on the Facebook group, but also our live group coaching calls. We haven’t touched a lot of coaching conversations, but that’s part of what can not only help you create a community but also help you monetize your expertise even beyond a course. If your average course is $97, I’m not sure how much courses are sold for just based on my experience.
Chris: It depends. I would say a low end course is like $20. A high end course is like $2,000, and that’s going to have some kind of community element in it. A lot of courses are around the $100 to $200 mark.
Milana: If you wanted to monetize it further, just realize that people will take your course and they will still need some hand holding, advice, feedback, coaching. You can do that as a one on one coaching or you can do that as a group, and that’s what we did. That bonded people so well together. As I’m creating my new company, my new community of simplicity entrepreneurship, what attracts people to my community is the idea of simplicity, so that common idea, common goal of wanting to create a simplicity based business where there’s no push, no chaos, no force and grinding. You’re not forced to hustle to achieve results, but instead you’re looking for areas of alignment within your business, you’re looking for areas where your passion meets market needs, you’re looking for more alignment as opposed to pushing and forcing.
A lot of people are attracted to that idea. I was in a program that teaches how to build a big business with a big team, with a big org chart, and at that time I thought that’s what I wanted. The more I piled up on my business, the more overwhelmed and unexcited I became, so I scaled back down. Not necessarily in terms of income, but in terms of how I was building my business, and therefore, Simplicity Circle was born. A lot of people are just loving this idea. The community that I am building now, they are attracted because of this idea that brings them in. It’s implementation. It’s idea. The other piece as a passionate leader, you and I talked about that a little bit in our live, right? You have to have a leader who’s passionate about it, who maybe is striving like I’m striving for simplicity, but I don’t think I’m fully there yet.
I’m willing to be vulnerable and discover simplicity alongside of my members in my community and share my challenges with them. Then the other piece is just engage. I think a lot of people will start a community and think, “Oh yeah, let me put all these people together. They’ll just play around together with each other. They don’t need me.” That’s not true. People always need a leader to feel first of all protected because if people don’t feel safe in their community, they can’t sure. They cannot be vulnerable. My people, I hope, feel safe that I am watching everything. I’m slapping any negativity out of my group because I think there’s enough of that online. I want people to really focus on building a simplicity based business and what it takes and how to get there.
I would say those things, implementation, a great leader who is passionate and engaging people, and the common goal or message that brings people together.
Chris: Beautiful.
Milana: I’m sure there’s more of that, but I’m still learning as well.
Chris: That’s a treasure trove of ideas and concepts there. What do you tell the course builder out there who wants to build a community, and they’re quite frankly just scared because they’re starting a zero? They might write a blog post, but they have no email lists. They might create a Facebook group, but that group doesn’t exist yet. How do you start building a community? How do you just get that initial momentum? I just want to say I remember starting the LifterLMS Facebook group, which is also just a general online course and membership site group. I remember what it was like when I had a zero person email list and nobody in the group, and I invited the people in my company into the group.
Milana: And your mom and dad.
Chris: They’re not even in it.
Milana: Oh no.
Chris: Ultimately this was one of my greatest pleasures and joys in watching the community grow is I remember this moment where it just took off, and all of a sudden people started helping each other without not just me leading, but there was all this value just coming. People are offering, like, “Hey, I’m looking to hire somebody for this,” and then somebody would get a job. All this kind of stuff started happening in there. I was like, “That’s a great accomplishment.” I remember there was, it started at zero. It started at email list of one, a Facebook group of one, and I’m an explorer type guy so I’m known for charging into the unknown a little bit. What do you tell people that are like, “I don’t know how to start”?
Milana: I just thought of something as you were asking that question Chris. My previous company was not the first community I built. My very first one was back in 2005 when I literally invented the concept of a tele summit, which is very popular today or maybe beyond popular. I think people are now starting to get sick of it, but tele summit brought people together. It’s a virtual conference with multiple speakers conducted over the telephone, and now with a lot of social media involved because it’s available. It built community and it brought people together. The reason I thought of tele summit is because a tele summit, just like an online social media challenge, just like a product launch, it’s a ninja tactic.
What I’ve always done to build my community, build my list, build the size of my audience is I would always do some sort of a ninja tactic. For example, right now I’m ramping up for an online challenge. I think I might have shared that with you privately, but coming up with some idea that will attract other people. I’m an introvert, just like you are. We talked about that. It’s not easy for me to reach out to people personally or to go out networking or build all these connections. Some people are very natural at that, “Oh yeah, you should talk to this person and to that person.” Our friend Charles Bird is like that, he’ll immediately think of people. He’s like this mega super connector, which is how you and I connected in the first place.
Chris: Thank you Charles, if you’re listening.
Milana: Thank you Charles, yes. If you’re not a connector, if that doesn’t come easy to you, you want to find a different way of attracting people to you. What I found works for me is creating some sort of a platform for people. When I invented the tele summit idea, essentially it was a platform. I gave people a platform to become visible. Would you participate at this as a guest speaker to speak about passive income for coaches? Would you speak about the five-seven reasons how people might fail as coaches. People were attracted as a platform. Then in my previous company, we created a platform for people for visibility or to find promotional partners for each other.
I feel like if you create something exciting, something worthy of talking about, something that is newsworthy, attention worthy, I think that is one way to grow your audience. For example, you could run an online challenge that is related to the topic of your course. You could connect with people who are running Facebook groups and those groups are filled with people that might be potentially your customers or people in your audience. I’m still learning how to use social media to grow my group, but I feel like if you are doing something exciting, just start talking to everybody about it.
A friend of mine, David [DiGiorgio 00:42:06], who actually arranged my music composition that is on my website, I love what he said in my interview with him. He was saying the mistake that a lot of people are making is they’re trying to get speaking gigs. He trains speakers, by asking for a speaker gig or by focusing on getting a speaking gig. Instead, what they should be doing is just sharing what they’re passionate about. Just talking to people what they’re passionate about. What’s going to happen next is somebody’s going to hear you and say, “Oh my god, I love that. Can you talk about that to my audience?”Then bam, you’ve got an interview or you got an opportunity to share your message through an article or a podcast interview or a Facebook Live or some other way. Teach a class, do a workshop.
I would say have an exciting message and then talk about it.
Chris: Beautiful.
Milana: Message or mission. Some people will say, “I have a mission to do this.” Talk about your mission.
Chris: It’s more about focusing on an active creation and attraction and giving instead of how do I grab or get access to. It’s more just put it out there and attract it. I love that. That’s really good. You have a lot of expertise around this area of coaching. After LifterLMS, we just rolled out a new add-on to our product where people can essentially have private hosts and private discussions between the teacher and the student on an individual basis in addition to their more passive automated course.
Milana: That’s great. That’s great.
Chris: You can have a course, but you can also have the coaching as an upsell or it can be a totally different product. There’s all kinds of different ways to structure it. Before the course creator, let’s say I’m a book author or I’m just an expert and I got into the world and I got my online course launched and I’m really happy with it, and now I’m a digital successful entrepreneur person, but you know what, I miss interacting with live people and I also see untapped value. If I could just work with people one on one in addition to courses, but do it through the internet and offer some high end coaching, how do I transition or add that into my offer? How do successful coaches in the early stages construct their offer? How do they think about it?
Milana: First of all, you can test it. I don’t know if your platform allows for an upsell, but one of the ways that coaches are monetizing coaching after they sell a program or a course is they do an upsell. Let’s say they’re selling something for, I don’t know, a $50 course and then when the purchase is complete or somewhere in the middle of the purchase they’ll offer, “By the way if you want some hand holding as you implement this, or if you have some questions or if you want a strategy session around your implementation, I’m available for one on one conversation or coaching session or consulting.” That would probably be the simplest way to add in some coaching.
Of course, you could always have a coaching program created around your course. Here’s a $50 course, or you can choose a live group implementation program based on the very same course. You basically expand the concept of your course into a coaching program. I would say those are the two ways to start with and see what works.
Chris: That’s awesome. One of the ways I like to explain that too is the course is the do-it-yourself. Coaching is more done with you.
Milana: Yes.
Chris: Then the whole done for you thing, that’s a whole different service or whatever. Courses and information products, they’re basically for the do-it-yourselfer, and then you can start layering on with the coaching. Milana, this has been a really treasure of a conversation. I really appreciate it. It just shows all your experience, just your insights come through and a lot of them as we go through the various topics. Thank you for spending some time with the LifterLMS crew here. We really appreciate it. I’d encourage people to head on over to SimplicityCircle.com/GetStarted, and check out what Milana’s up to. Check any challenge she’s got going on or any of her stuff.
If you were to bull down your simplicity entrepreneurship message to its core, what is it?
Milana: Simplicity is about creating a business that gives you the shortest path to the result that you want to accomplish essentially. It’s the simplest way to achieve a goal. In business, it means finding the shortest, most simple way to a profitable business by removing everything else, everything that creates complexity, any unnecessary steps, tools, projects, activities, mindsets and sometimes people. Eliminate those that add to complexity in your business.
Chris: Awesome. Milana, thank you so much for coming in the show. We really appreciate it.
Milana: Thanks so much for having me, Chris.

EPISODE 152

How to Build a Marketing Funnel for Your Online Course or Membership Site with Mark Asquith

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about how to build a marketing funnel for your online course or membership site with Mark Asquith. Chris and Mark talk about some course marketing strategies, how to think about sales, and building your marketing funnel in a more advanced way. They also discuss being yourself, honest and present with your courses and products.

Mark believes the reasons behind the things we do are key driving factors in what decisions we make. So it is important to take that into consideration when you are selling a product or buying a product. Ask yourself, “Why do I do this?” or, “Why do I have a problem with this particular thing?” Mark shares his story of how he got into the world of online marketing and content creation. He tells us about his ‘why’ and what incident in his life gave him the driving passion that empowers his career today.

In the early days of entrepreneurship, we often have to scrape and claw to get our first few customers, and during this phase we are often doing a lot of developmental work with our products. Developing a sales funnel is necessary to get leads and make sales further down the line when we start to scale up. Chris and Mark discuss multiple different sales funnels and how they can market your products.

Being clear with your products is key. As Mark says, we are not selling education. We are not selling memberships or products. We are selling the outcome that the education enables. We are selling what the user wants to achieve and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with that. You have to sell the outcome that the user is really looking for, whether they know that or not. This is important to remember as you are creating your product and your sales funnel.

There is tremendous power in blogging, podcasting, eBooks, vlogs, YouTube channels, and Facebook live sessions. The more content you are producing, the more likely you are to be in the right place at the right time to answer your customer’s questions right when they have them. And even if they don’t have any questions at that time about what it is you are talking about, when they do have a question you will be the first person they think of who will have the answer.

Relying on your personality can also be very powerful with course creation, because it can allow you to set yourself and your course apart a little bit from the competitors. Using your personality in courses can also help you create conversions on the grounds that the customer feels they relate to you on a certain level.

Chris and Mark discuss some marketing strategies such as using tripwires to get conversions and weed out people who might not be right for your course. This can be as easy as creating a discount trial or products such as free podcasts or a blog.

To learn more about Mark Asquith check out Excellence Expected where he helps get entrepreneurs to their first half a million dollars through a hands-on, relatively stress-free process. Also check out Podcast Websites where Mark helps people start their podcasts by taking care of the technical aspect of creating the podcast.

You can 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. Today I’m joined by Mark Asquith from England, and we’re going to be talking about some course marketing strategies, how to think about sales, and building your funnel in a more advanced way. We’re going to get into talking about podcasting a little bit and how powerful that is. First, Mark, welcome to the show.
Mark Asquith: Thank you, Sir. I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to it.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. It’s really fun to hang out with a fellow digital entrepreneur and really get into some of the detailed stuff that we figured out over the years of doing what we do and help people who are trying to get into the online space. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely wasted a lot of time trying different things. That’s my goal with these episodes is to make it so that someone can listen to this and leverage our experience and save a lot of time, move faster, have a higher likelihood of success with their course or membership site. Thanks for coming on the show and helping share your experience.
Mark Asquith: Always a pleasure. That’s what it’s all about, just helping people do what they want to do.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. You have a couple websites we’re going to get into in a little bit. It’s Excellence-Expected.com so if you’re listening and you have a computer in front of you and you want to pull that up, go ahead and do that. You also have a done for you podcast service PodcastWebsites.com but before we get into that and talk about course marketing and marketing challenges and how to think about marketing, tell us a little bit about your story. I heard it has something to do with a hotdog in your entrepreneur journeys. What’s that all about?
Mark Asquith: Yeah, that’s an old school story, that one. A lot of people ask the why. I always find that if you’re going to try and take advice from anyone or if you want to give advice to people you’ve got to be willing to share why you do this because so many people just do it for the cash. We all want to earn money, let’s be completely honest. We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t want to earn money and that’s completely fine. A lot of people dodge around that and say, “No, I’m doing it for these other reasons.” No, you’re not. Money is a big part of it. Let’s be honest. A lot of people who I seek advice from, I like to understand, I’m a big fan of [Norkagen 00:02:26] because I seem to just connect with him. He’s got a very specific type of story, same with JLD, good friend and you know a lot about him.
From my side, I was thinking to myself a few years ago, “Why do I do this? Why did I bother quitting the job? Why did I leave corporate at 23? Why have I got this problem with authority and having the control of my life out of my own hands? Why have I got a problem with that?” I managed to go right back to when I was 10 years old and I figured out the reason why. I think if you’re going to take advice from someone you need to understand why the heck they do it.
Imagine being a 10-year-old kid and walking into what turned out to be the final kind of school ball, if you like, at least this school once you go up to the next level education. 10 years old. I don’t know why because hormones had kicked in and I didn’t understand them. All I wanted to do was just impress this girl. That was it. She was called Kirstie. I wanted to impress her and I wanted to really just get through the night unscathed. I didn’t want anything to go wrong. I didn’t want anything to go badly. I come from a really poor family. I come from a little mining village in the North of England, no money whatsoever so coming across just the basic things that you’d want a school kid really was a struggle.
I turned up at this school [inaudible 00:03:51] and it was going all right actually. I had an hour, hour and a half just doing what you do as a 10-year-old kid. Went to get this hotdog, went to get some food, went with my friends. It was my friends and me and I’m the glue between my friends and Kirstie and her friends so there’s all my friends in front of me. Then there’s me, then there’s Kirstie and there’s all her friends behind so the entire queue, the entire line is made up of people that really I did not want to be embarrassed in front of. I get the hotdog, the lady gives me the hotdog and she says to me, “That’s 50 pence.”
I did not have a penny on me, just couldn’t afford it. My mum and my dad couldn’t afford to give me the money. They didn’t give me any. I assumed at 10 that it was free and in front of everyone, the woman asked for the hotdog back in front of absolutely the entire school year, the person that I enjoy spending time with and wanted to impress, all of her friends, everyone. I had to give it back and the humiliation was just terrible, the embarrassment, just that genuine feeling of wanting to be swallowed up and never see anyone again and run away crying into the distance. That was me. I was crushed, entirely crushed.
That’s why I ended up doing what I do now. I realized that the feeling that I hated the most was the lack of control. I wasn’t able to control my situation because that woman demanded finance or money from me that I didn’t have. That’s why I do what I do, not necessarily for the money but to enable myself never to feel like that. I think a lot of people, the reason that I like to mention that story is that a lot of people have got these different whys. They’ll say they want financial freedom. They’ll say they want their own version of success and happiness but actually most people want to be in control and that was my version of understanding what a lack of control felt like. I was determined never to feel like that again.
That’s why I do what I do. That’s why some of the marketing tactics and some of the ideas that we’re going to speak about later are so important, because they take that control and bring it back into you. If you’re starting out for the very first time creating something online, you’ve got to understand why you’re doing it. I bet if you’re really honest with yourself, it is about controlling what you do day in, day out, week in, week out and for the rest of your life. I’m sure there’ll be an element of controlling your own destiny in there somewhere. That’s how I got into it. That’s why I ended up being this tired, haggard entrepreneur.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I really appreciate you sharing that story and that takes a lot of self awareness, too. I’d encourage everybody listening out there to maybe take a spin down memory lane into your past, in to your history and see if you can find that hotdog moment where maybe something happened that maybe sets you on a path. Thanks for sharing that.
You mentioned control, and that’s really an interesting topic because as entrepreneurs, education entrepreneurs in the case of our listeners here, a lot of what we’re trying to control when we teach is we’re trying to help people achieve certain results. Great courses, great membership sites, great learning experiences, they basically create control in the user where the marketing makes a promise and then the course is the vehicle or the guide or the tool to help the learner get there. That’s the ultimately holy grail of online education which is results, to have repeatable, dependable results through an awesome teaching experience.
In the early days of entrepreneurship sometimes we have to tooth and claw to get our first customers. Perhaps some people listening are great at teaching or getting some kind of results and have some subject matter expertise but they’re not necessarily digital marketers like you and I or they haven’t developed that skillset yet. There’s this concept of the sales funnel that people an start looking at as a tool to kind of demystify and bring some control into how you approach marketing so your head doesn’t explode.
Can you take us to school for the uninitiated out there? What is a sales funnel and how do people get into that for their course or membership site? What do they do with it once they understand it?
Mark Asquith: Yeah. It’s a good question and the one thing that I will say to kind of really just kick this off and the one thing that is a bit of a precursor to that is that we’ve got to be willing to understand that we’re not selling courses. We’re not selling education. We’re not selling memberships. We’re not selling products. We’re not selling services. What were selling is the feeling of achieving the outcome that the user wants to achieve. You don’t learn Spanish because you want to go through the course. You learn Spanish because you want to learn Spanish and you want to be able to speak Spanish. You don’t learn about marketing, digital marketing because you want to learn about digital marketing. You learn about digital marketing because you want to make money.
You’ve got to sell the outcome, that’s the very, very first thing. The reason I’m saying that as a precursor is a lot of people get really stuck on this when it comes to marketing and the funnel. What does that funnel look like? They really market the thing as opposed to the outcome and if you get that wrong, if you market the thing, the challenge with that is you’ve got another marketing task on your hand which is you’ve got to make people care about the thing and people don’t care about the thing. If you can just make sure that you’re really clear, what is the outcome that my education enables? That’s the kicker. That’s the real marketing play.
Now, of course when it comes to the funnel, it’s all about how do you think about marketing? It’s all about, and this is a very classic marketing cliché, it’s all about knowing someone, liking someone and eventually trusting them enough to give them the money and trust them to give you something in return. If you think about if you go to a restaurant, think about a restaurant’s marketing funnel. Starting at the top of the funnel you walk into the door and that’s free. You don’t pay for that. That’s fine. Walk in the door and you’re greeted by a fabulous person, “Welcome to our superb restaurant. Table for two?”
“Yeah, table for two.”
“Take your pick.”
“Well, we’ll have the window seat.” Okay, top of the funnel. Next thing. “Would you like a drink?”
“I would be delighted. I’ll get a beer and I’ll get a red wine.” That’s excellent. Low ticket, low cost. When they bring the drink, what else do they bring with it? Some bread. They bring some olives, they bring some nuts and they bring some hummus and they bring some other stuff. What they’ve done there is, next part of the funnel, you’ve given a tiny little bit of money in return for this drink and they’ve exceeded your expectations by bringing you the free olives and bringing you the bread. Then, “Are you ready to order your main course?”
“Yeah, yeah. Okay.” THat’s the meat, excuse the pun. That’s the meat. That’s where they’re really making the money is on that product. Their funnel, and then of course you’ve got the dessert and so on thereafter, there’s steps [inaudible 00:11:18] through it. Their funnel is really simple. Free entrance. Low ticket, what we call a trip wire, which is a low risk investment. If we have a drink and we decided that the band’s terrible, the decor’s terrible, we don’t like the waiting staff, we’ll finish the drink and we’ll get off. It’s cost us 10 bucks but they exceed that value. They bring you the olives, they bring you the bread. You’re not leaving once you’ve got the olives and you’ve got the bread. Rarely happens.
A funnel really is just a series of steps that you can take people through that will help them to know you, to like you and to trust you. At every step of the way you’ve got to exceed people’s expectations. You’ve got to practice the art of a pleasant surprise. You’ve got to really pleasantly surprise everyone. Wait a second, I paid X amount for this thing and I expected X amount or value back but they’ve doubled the value and some. I didn’t expect that and this is only the second time I’ve interacted with this person or the second time I’ve transacted. It’s perfect.
Sales funnel is a very specific set of actions that you take people through to lead them into your final goal, your business objective of selling them the course or selling them the recurring membership or whatever that might be. The restaurant example is very, very simple but it’s a very valid example and urge anyone to think like that. What does my funnel look like? What’s the free stuff? How do I get people to get eyes on me? It’s very, very simple when you go to a restaurant. Someone has told you about that restaurant or you’ve walked past and you said, “Wait a second, that place looks really nice.” You’re not Googling or you’re rarely Googling nice places to eat without backing it up with a Trip Advisor review. It’s [inaudible 00:13:12] on, always eyes on something.
Yeah, that’s a sale funnel. Really basic kind of version of it but that’s the idea of a sales funnel and it applies to everything, whether you’re selling iPads or courses or food or drink. Doesn’t matter. Sales funnels, to me, are all the same. Yeah. That’s a bit of a long winded example but I’m sure it gets the point across.
Chris Badgett: That’s very good. I’m definitely going to use that before. I actually haven’t gone through the process of walking through the restaurant example and that’s an amazing example that everybody can relate to so thank you for that. Sometimes I share with people who are getting started with marketing a generic funnel that looks something like, just because people get really overloaded and their heads are about to explode with all these ideas and tactics and different platforms they need to be on. I start by you should write, and this is somebody who doesn’t even have a course yet. You may take a totally different approach which is cool. I’m just sharing what some of the people here have heard which is, first, write one blog post, one free blog post. Then once you got up to five of those, okay. That’s step one.
Step two is come up with a email mini course, a three-park email mini course that is beside or inside your blog post that people can opt into with their email address and then they’re going to get this series of there emails dripped out over time that deliver some kind of result for free. Then after that, create a short free course on your website. Now it’s not in their inbox. Now they’re coming to your website and they’re taking the free course. I, in the past, had not thought of the tripwire course idea but maybe put in a low cost course for a tripwire and then you get into your paid course which is really the meat.
Then you can make multiple courses and now you can start selling bundles or memberships and then you can add other offers and coaching and things to your courses as the highest level. All that process of building all that out, it might take you a year to do that or maybe you’re just going to stop at one course and that’s all you care about, which is totally cool. That’s like just a generic example course membership site funnel. How would you add to that? Let’s talk about the entry point, the top of the funnel. What else can people do?
Mark Asquith: That’s a really good question and the point is that, for me, that’s the most difficult bit to get right because you’re up against a heck of a lot at that point. You’re up against the fact that people might not know you. People might not know that they’ve got a problem. People might not know what the outcome that they want. People might not know anything about the entire industry that you’re trying to sell a course in. You’ve got all of these different challenges and the easiest way to do that, the easiest way to overcome that is to have a suite of different materials so everyone talks about the avatar. Let’s be honest. Avatars are great. You can do one avatar but there are more likely 10, 15 avatars in any given industry. We know that. We know that through experience and you’ve got to head everything off at the pass now.
Let’s think about walking down a corridor. We’re in a hotel. Right at the end of the corridor is someone entering a door and that entering of the door is someone giving you their email address which, from there, let’s call that the second part of the funnel. It’s not the top, it’s the next step down, going through that door. All the way down the corridor they’re walking in a straight line but every other door, every other side of the corridor there’s someone shouting, “Come and check this out. Come and check this. Come and check this. Come and check this,” or there’s a doubt. Do I need this? Is this for me? Can I complete this? Am I really cut out for this?
Our job, right at the top level of the funnel, is to close every other door off, is to close every other single door off so that when they’re walking, they’re walking undisturbed or you’ve got their answers. All the barriers are gone and all they’re doing it thinking, “That is the thing that I want there. I’m going to enter that door and I’m going to put my email address and I’m going to get that free course which is the second part of the funnel. The reason that I mention that is that the only way to cover off every one of these doors, every one of these problems or these barriers or these other noises going off is to head on. You can’t shut a door unless you walk up to the door and shut the door so you’ve got to do the very same thing with your content, with your marketing, as an example of that.
Let’s say with me with Excellence Expected. I want people to sign up for my tripwire which is the movement. It’s a Slack community, 79 bucks, lifetime membership. That’s it. Low ticket, low cost, low risk, totally money back guarantee, 30 days, done, easy, like no risk at all. What I’ve got to do is I’ve got to shut every door off which might be am I going to make the most of the community? Here’s a blog post on top 10 benefits for joining a community online or a mastermind, whatever. How am I going to have time to do this? Here’s a podcast episode on the top five myths around productivity and time management. Am I actually going to get any benefit from this? Is Mark the right person to give me this advice? Next door, here’s a free coaching session. Every Friday I do a free coaching session for 30 minutes. You can come and get eyes on me and make sure that I am the guy that I said I am. That’s that door shut.
By the time we’ve created all of this content, we’ve developed all of that. Step one of the funnel, the top of the funnel’s clear. It’s done. All that person wants to do is get through that door and give you their email address, at which point it becomes just a little bit easier. Yeah. When it comes to the top of the funnel it’s about anticipating the problems people will have. Remember, if you are right over here on one side of the spectrum, right on the far side of the spectrum, the outcome that they want is on the very, very other side of the spectrum, on the other side of the cavern. Your [inaudible 00:19:22], it’s the bridge. It’s the solution. You’ve got to create content that lets them see that your solution, your cause, your membership is the right thing to get them across that cavern.
The more of those that you have, blog posts, guides, e-books, podcast episodes, vlogs, YouTube channels, Facebook live sessions, the more of those that you have, the easier it becomes because here’s another misconception. You probably don’t know what questions your audience need answering so your job is to create as much content and be as present as possible to give you the very best probability of answering those questions at the time that they need them and it’s got to be evergreen stuff. It’s got to be completely omnipresent. You’ve got to be around for that.
That’s how I handle the top of my funnel. The top of my funnel includes all six seasons of the podcast. It includes tens and tens and tens of blog posts. It includes hundreds of podcast episodes, free coaching, product launch webinars. It includes all sorts of different things and that’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to create as much as you can on the bottom end, but you’ve only got to do it once. Once it’s done, the questions aren’t changing so set it and let it do its job.
Chris Badgett: That’s very cool. Very cool. What are some categories of objections or helping people become aware of the problems they have? What are some example, if people are like, “That sounds great. I should create some more top of the funnel content, free content,” what kinds of questions should they ask to figure out what to make? Let’s say I have a …
Mark Asquith: Think about what-
Chris Badgett: Go ahead.
Mark Asquith: Sorry, we had a bit of lag on the line there, Chris. Think about what the objections are. Think about what the common objections. If you’re going to buy a new TV, what are the questions that you’ve got? Okay. Question one. Can I afford it? Question two. If I can’t afford it, is my partner going to kick my ass for buying this thing? Number three. Technically, can I work this? Am I going to get it home and it’s going to be too complex for me?
Number four. Okay. Those are gone. I’m fine to buy this thing. I can work it. Out of all of these TVs, out of all of these courses, all of these memberships, how do I know that this one is right for me based on my circumstance? Once I’ve got that in, we absolutely know full well, we’ve all bought things and then instantly thought, “Oh my word, I’m not leaving the house for six months because I can’t afford it anymore. I’ve just bought this thing.” What are they going to feel like? What are the objections that they’re going to have immediately after they’ve bought this thing? What are the risk reversals that you can get?
That’s the type of content. You’ve got to think to yourself, we are so close to our products, to our courses, to our services, so close to them, way too close to them that we assume that everyone has the same level of knowledge that we do. You’ve got to go real basic with this. You’ve got to think about every kind of objection from technology to affordability to risk reversal to the ability to complete the objective that they set themselves if they buy your course because it’s all right buying the course but if you don’t do it, actually what’s the point?
Here’s another thing to remember, just a side note on that. So many people will buy your product and if they don’t have the time to do it, they will blame your product for not being good enough. That is a fact and we’ve seen that in software time and time again. User error is never user error. It’s always the system’s fault, regardless of whether it is or not and that’s the same with courses. If they don’t have the time to do it, it’s very likely they’ll come back and say, “The course wasn’t good enough for me. It was fine. Didn’t really need it. It wasn’t very good.” That’s the next level of referral marketing os you’ve got to head that off at the paste because the people that they tell will have that opinion.
Yeah. Think about the objection. What are the types of objection? Usually cost is a big one. Usually the fear of investing something and not getting the result is another one. The repercussions of purchase, and I’m not talking about risk reversal. I’m talking about physically the repercussions like will my business partner go crazy if I spend a grand on this product. Then you’ve got things like actually, okay, Derek’s creating a course there. You’ve got to [Ducker 00:23:54] creating a course there, Pat Flynn’s got his new course out. You’ve got JLD doing this. Why would I buy Mark’s course out of all of these guys? You’ve got to set yourself apart a little bit and you’ve got really rely on your personality. There’s so many different types of question but I think you can broadly categorize them like that.
Chris Badgett: Very cool. Very cool. Help us understand a little bit, for the uninitiated out there, a tripwire? What would you recommend? How do you think about top of the funnel versus a tripwire?
While you’re thinking on that, just for a second with LifterLMS, if you go to LifterLMS.com and you’re looking at course building software for a WordPress site, we have a $1 trial where we build a temporary website. We don’t make any money off of it but it’s very important because it’s designed to give people not just demo what the product does but actually give them a site that they can use and play around with and it’s very powerful in marketing because it basically handles all the objections they’re asking, like will I be able to use this? Is this going to be able to do what I need it to do? Can I get my course in here easily? We just literally hand them something but they have to pay $1 for it and that’s a tripwire. A lot of people who go through the dollar trial end up buying one of our software addons or a bundle or a done for you service.
How would a course builder or membership site owner think about a tripwire? What do you think about? What’s the goal?
Mark Asquith: Okay. A tripwire generally is a low level purchase that gives people the trust that you can handle their money and you’ll over-deliver in return, typically. For example, you may try just a one buck to test this thing, to try it. No risk. Completely low risk but what’s happening there is people are trusting you with $1 which means you can be trusted with two and 10 and 100 and 500. You were over-delivering the value so that becomes scalable. That’s what people then become expectant of that value being disproportionate, positively disproportionate to what they invest.
When it comes to courses, there’s a few ways, in my opinion, that you can kind of run something like this and the first one is I’m not personally a fan of free trials because, at certain times, it can attract the one type of people. What I prefer to do is give something at a very discounted cost. Let’s say that your cost is 100 bucks. Rather than going at the four bucks, the five bucks, the six bucks, you give them it at 30 bucks so it’s a massive discount but it’s enough that they are expecting a level of service. The tripwire is not, I don’t go crazy with my tripwires. It’s not like, “Get this for 10 cents or get this for a buck,” or something like that because certainly for my business it attracts the wrong type of customer.
What you need to do is you need to figure out where’s the level of risk and it might be, well, you can have 70% off your first purchase. You see that on so many websites like [inaudible 00:27:18] and you see it on I think [Larry Cass 00:27:20] used to do one where it’s like, “Okay, get 70% off and you can get this bundle, 70%.” That’s a tripwire. They’re proving they can be trusted with your money.
The other way of doing that, which is a tripwire but it’s a bit of kind of a reverse tripwire. I don’t really know any better way to explain that but it’s where you’ll do something like we did at podcast websites when we first started which was, look, you sign up for the beta. What we’ll do is we’ll give you it at a founding member’s rate, so we’ll give you a very good rate, but what we’ll also do, we’ll give you the promise of the third month for 10 bucks. We’re keeping the retention rate up. We’ll give you not the first month, not the second month, not the free trial. We’ll give you the third month for 10 bucks and that’s the tripwire is in the promise. The tripwire is not in the upfront delivery. The tripwire’s in the promise.
The other thing as well that you can really, really do and, again, I wouldn’t necessarily give this away for free but let’s say you’re selling a course on, I can’t think of a good example. Coding. You’re selling a course on let’s say C sharp. Sorry, objective C. You want to be an iPhone developer. We’re selling a course on objective C. It’s a 200 bucks course. It’ll teach you objective C in a month, [inaudible 00:28:42] it’ll get you the basics in a month.
What we will do is we will prepare you. We will give you a test. We will figure out whether you have got the aptitude to do this and we’ll do that for you because we don’t want you spending your hard earned money with us if it’s not going to work. We’ll give you that if you just spend 10 bucks with us and we’ll give you a test. For 10 bucks, we might save you 200 if you’re not right for it. That’s another tripwire. You’re actually, rather than giving more value back for 10 bucks, you’re giving them risk reversal. You’re letting them dodge a bullet if it’s not right for them. You’re showing your willingness to prove that you’re for them, not for profit, if you like.
There are a couple of ways that you can cut it but ultimately speaking what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to sell something low level that prepares them for a bigger purchase. Does that answer the question? I feel like I’ve gone off-
Chris Badgett: That definitely answers it and I really appreciate it because or sometimes these things are talked about in what’s in it for you the site owner, like you’re qualifying leads, you’re making sure they’re going to pay money there. You’re getting them used to spending money with you but you kept the focus on the person, their needs, their fears and helping them decide if it’s right for them or not. That’s what it’s really all about. As a result, you know you’ll make more money, make more sales, have a better functioning marketing frontal. I love that focus like you did there with the tripwire and, again, with your door analogy and everything on the student themselves or the prospective student. I really appreciate that.
Let’s talk a little bit-
Mark Asquith: Just to jump in, though-
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Go ahead.
Mark Asquith: One more [inaudible 00:30:25]. Sorry, Chris, because you made a really good point there which is about qualifying the leads and so on and so forth. People do put this massive focus on, okay, let’s do some lead qualification. Let’s score these leads out and I get that. I understand that but my theory and my logic is always if you keep the focus on the benefits and being just ridiculously helpful to the end user, you don’t need to qualify because, by virtue of doing that, you’re already qualifying. You’re qualifying the leads by proxy of just being the best you can be. Where you’re developing your products, when you’re developing your services, don’t think to yourself, “This is my lead qualification.” Just think, “If I was buying this thing, what would I want at this point to decide upon? What is the question that I would want answering?” Believe me, if you do that, that is going to qualify the leads for you in a much better way because if you score the leads, if you qualify them in the traditional ways, all you’re doing is you’re anonymizing that. You’re anonymizing the financial transaction.
What you’re trying to do for longevity, especially in the course game, you know what it’s like, people that have got the propensity to buy a course have got the propensity to buy a second and third and a fourth and a 10th and a 20th. What you’ve got to do is qualify the lead by building the relationship. There’s no better lead qualified than having lunch with someone, as we spoke about off the recording earlier. That is a lead qualified. They might not buy it from you today. Might buy it from you in 10 years but you can be sure that you’re the first person he thinks of when the time is right for him.
Yeah, just a side note on that because you did bring up a fantastic point.
Chris Badgett: I really appreciate that. I really appreciate that. Let’s talk a little bit about excellence Expected and that’s Excellence-Expected.com. What do you offer over there? How do you help people?
Mark Asquith: Okay. All sorts of things. I help new entrepreneurs get to their first half a million. For a lot of people they’ve been in online business for a long time. People just basically say, “Okay, half a million’s not great. Okay,” but listen. If you’re starting up a site [inaudible 00:32:35] it’s fantastic. You want to get to the half million. You can get to the million after that. That’s fine. That’s the goal is to help people with really personal support so I do free coaching. I’ll do the podcast, “The 7-Minute Mentor”. I do the YouTube channels. I also do things like the Excellence Expected movement which is the Slack community. I also do the podcast accelerator which is how I help people make money through podcasting. General business coaching around starting up your side hustle and getting your business off the ground.
It’s a very personal business. It’s my personals brand. There are no automated products. There’s no software, there’s no electronic things. Excellence Expected is me. That is it, which is what I love. I adore doing it. It’s a lot of fun.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. In the spirit of this conversation, what’s at the top of the funnel of Excellence Expected?
Mark Asquith: That’s a really good question, man, and it’s really simple for me. It’s about proving the fact that I’m always around for people and genuinely I’m always around for people. What I do with that is I’ve got all of the podcasts, so I’ve got four seasons of interviews, 150 episodes that I’ve got [inaudible 00:33:46] guide and I do a new guide every single year so I’ve got the straight talking guide to launching your first product which is entirely free. Next year there’ll be a new guide and the year after that, a new guide and again, these are all audio. Complete resources so each episode of those guys have got full of resources that you can take and you can use to get through that guide. I also do the daily show which is “The 7-Minute Mentor” so it’s a daily seven-minute burst of just get your stuff done. Here’s what you need to do today, every day, seven minutes, start your day off right.
That’s the audio side of things. I’ve also got the new vlog launching later this year which’ll be a weekly show and it is going to be behind the scenes. It’s going to be the camera will be in the corner as I run my business, as I find things and as I develop things. I want people to see what I do and how I mess up and how I get the results and how i get things wrong and get things right. I also do the free coaching on a Friday so every Friday, 4:00pm UK, 11:00am Eastern, I’m live and literally anyone can ask me a question and I will answer it, guaranteed I will answer it. There’s nothing that I wouldn’t touch. I will answer it. You can come on the session, you can get eyes on me, we can have a conversation in the comments and that’s really, really powerful. It’s a free coaching.
The other thing I do is the product launch webinar every single month. I’ll talk through eight steps to launching your first product or your first service or getting your side hustle off the ground. Entirely free every single month. That is about it, actually. I feel like I’ve said a lot of things there but that is the top of my funnel and then that leads through to the other stuff which is the movement. Yeah, a lot of free content. Oh, plus the blogs and all the tutorials that I do. There’s a new tutorial and blog post out every two weeks, second Wednesday. We’re not talking like 500 words. They’re a good 12, 1,300 words. Yeah. That’s the top of my funnel. I don’t think I missed anything.
Chris Badgett: Beautiful. If you’d like to check that out, head on over to Excellence-Expected.com. You mentioned it in passing in this conversation, I just want to make sure people are aware of it. This is also how I first heard about you, Mark, was you have a podcast service and podcasting can be very powerful for course creators and membership site owners in terms of creating top of the funnel, free content out there but sometimes it’s hard enough to get a membership site or an online course and e-commerce and all that up and running. Not everybody out there is up to wanting to also figuring out podcasting. Can you real quickly just tell us about your podcast offer?
Mark Asquith: Yeah, definitely. We [inaudible 00:36:27] the podcast websites, myself and JLD from [inaudible 00:36:32], we set podcast websites up nearly two years ago now. We figure that people have got to learn how to podcast. They don’t want to have to learn, if they’re fresh to this, how to build a website and how to launch the thing and monetize the thing and turn it into a membership or e-commerce or into an LMS platform. We didn’t want to do any of that. What we do is we basically created this entire platform, this WordPress software, this service platform which is entirely geared up for podcasting. We’ve got the tutorials there to let people see how to do everything. We’ve got all of the software that you need, the podcast players, the themes and the 24/7 support. We’ve got the academy that teaches you SEO and teaches you email marketing and it’s genuine the complete bundle. As long as you can record your show, we will get you the rest of the [inaudible 00:37:19]. That is the point of the thing and [crosstalk 00:37:20]-
Chris Badgett: I just want to come in on that point. All I have to do, if I want to get into podcasting and I’m interested in your services, if I can create the show audio file and hand it over to you, that’s all I have to do for each episode. Is that right?
Mark Asquith: Yeah, absolutely. Really, really simple. Really simple and all you need to do is drag your MP3 file into our software. Obviously you’ll have to just go through tweaking your site, customizing it, making it look like you want it to look but we’ve got the team there to help with that. [inaudible 00:37:50] interested in things that go back to what we said earlier about kind of the things that don’t scale. Everyone says, “How can you do free coaching every Friday? That doesn’t scale.” It doesn’t, that’s why it works.
On podcast websites, from that side of things, we also do a number of things in so far as everyone gets a free welcome call with me, literally. I’m the co-founder, created this thing. You get a call with me, a welcome call. That is it. We’ll talk strategy. We’ll talk building. We’ll talk what you want. You’ll get that call. My background is [inaudible 00:38:21] designer [inaudible 00:38:23] as well so you also get three hours design time. Use it to design whatever you want, a logo, brand name, podcast cover art, a website. Literally you get that design time completely free.
Yeah. Our goal, remember I talked about outcome earlier, our goal is to make people successful at podcasting. That is our mission, not to build software but to make people successful at podcasting. Yeah. It’s cool, man. I love doing it. Really, really enjoyable. Meet some amazing people. It’s how you and me met actually, isn’t it?
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it is. That’s super incredible and for the LMSCast show books, this episode is just value-packed so I would encourage anyone who’s resonating with this episode to perhaps even listen to it again and pull out a pen and paper and take some notes and action items because there’s so much good stuff in here that’s going to really increase your odds of success and help you figure out and demystify marketing.
Let’s leave the listener with one tip each. I’m just going to say, in the spirit of what Mark’s been talking about here if you need some prompts to help create some free content at the top of your funnel, one question I like to say is what are the 10 frequently asked questions that people come to you about as an expert in whatever it is you do? Also, what 10 questions should they be asking but aren’t? Those 20 items can become YouTube videos, blog posts, podcast episodes but they’re a great way to start thinking about creating some free content.
What tip would you like to leave the listener with, Mark?
Mark Asquith: A really simple one and it’s non-technical. It is be unashamedly yourself and transparent and honest and present. Be consistently present. Remember, everyone talks about automation. Everyone talks about selling online and passive income. Here’s the deal. People are always going to buy from you so you’ve got to be present. You’ve got to be in front of the camera. You’ve got to be meeting people, shaking hands, giving hugs out. You’ve got to be looking people in the eye when you’re talking to them. You’ve got to do that. With all of your content, make it personal. Don’t say, “We.” Say, “I.” Make it entirely personal. Make it about you and that single person that you’re talking to at any given time. If you apply that to your marketing, there’s a reason I’m not going technical with that because everyone goes technical. Just be completely you and be completely honest. If you do that, your content will resonate and they will take the next step, which is email address or buy a tripwire product. Just be yourself and be present all of the time.
Chris Badgett: Beautiful. Mark Asquith, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming on the show. Head on over to Excellence-Expected.com to find out more about Mark and what he’s up to and thanks again, Mark, for coming on the show.
Mark Asquith: It is a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much.

EPISODE 151

The Online Education Results Revolution with Business Mentor Adam Urbanski

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about the online education results revolution with business metnor Adam Urbanski. Adam is from a website called TheMarketingMentors.com, and he is the coach’s coach. He teaches people how to create a business out of their expertise in a particular area.

In this episode we talk about the counter-intuitive insight of creating high-end done for you or done with you offers. Chris and Adam discuss the results revolution and being very selective of the people that join your platform. They also talk about making the transition from a high-end done with you offer to a course that is scalable.

Adam works with entrepreneurial service professionals who are really good at something. They generally love changing people’s lives, relationships, or businesses, but they are not very good at turning that into a business. So Adam serves as a business mentor for experts.

Chris and Adam discuss the current state of schooling and how that system tends to fail people by not teaching them what is necessary to succeed in the economy. People are taught to learn a set of rules and follow those rules universally. But we live in a results economy, meaning that getting results is what people are primarily looking for. The formula for getting results in the economy is changing all of the time, so by the time you learn the established rules you are supposed to follow, those rules have changed and no longer apply. Problem solving skills are what enable you to succeed in the economy today, and the education system often does not teach people how to solve problems and be resourceful.

As an entrepreneur or business owner, the ticket to winning is accepting absolute responsibility for everything. When you accept this level of responsibility, you can see much more clearly where the complications are in your business plan. You also learn how to ask more of the right questions, and Chris and Adam discuss the value of asking the right questions. Most of the time these are big picture questions that are rooted in what you as the course creator can do to fix a problem.

In order to create effective training you have to be able to consistently, predictably, systematically, and profitably produce results. If you start out with a done for you or done with you service in business, then you will be able to polish up your system for solving the common problem your clients have and then turn that into a scalable course. Chris and Adam talk about this strategy and how it has proved to be effective in the online education landscape.

To learn more about Adam Urbanski you can find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/adammurbanski. You can also check out TheMarketingMentors.com

You can 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 today we’ve got a special guest, Adam Urbanski. He’s from a website called TheMarketingMentors.com and Adam is the coach’s coach and we’re gonna get into a whole new way to look at learning and where the opportunity is and we’re gonna get into what Adam calls the results revolution, which is something I’m super passionate about, and I cannot wait to unpack his intense focus on results and what’s going on in the coaching and learning industry these days. But, first, Adam, I want to thank you for coming on the show.
Adam Urbanski: Chris, thanks for having me and man, you said coach’s coach, and I kind of cringed. I prefer to be mentor’s mentor. But I’ll go with the coach’s coach.
Chris Badgett: Right on. Yeah, I’m all about mentoring, I’m actually in the process right now, I’ve been searching actually for years for a mentor in my life and maybe we can talk a little bit about mentoring too and how you see that. I mentor a couple people myself but, I’ve just had the darnedest time trying to find a mentor for me but, before we get into any of that and the rest of the show, for the people out there that don’t know you yet, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do, Adam?
Adam Urbanski: Man, it’s always one of the toughest questions, in fact, the reason I’m in this business today is because I hated answering that question. If someone asked early on, I left the restaurant industry, sold the restaurant business and got into consulting and coaching, people always asked, “What do you do?” And they give you about seven seconds to explain something as complex as how you transform someone’s lives or help a relationship or business through the process of coaching, mentoring, consulting, right? I hated answering that and then they would typically say, “Well, what makes you the guy to go to?” Right, and I hated that even more because now, I have to brag on me, how great I am and what I do. Nobody likes doing this, I think, so, I swear that I’m gonna create this process for people who will not only come to me and beg me to take them on as a client rather than do it in reverse.
So, I created this process called Attract Clients Like Crazy that was kind of my first signature methodology, but in a nutshell I work with entrepreneurial service professionals, people that are really good at something, they love transforming people’s lives, relationships, businesses, but they typically suck at turning it into an actual business. They don’t know how to get clients, how to systemize, productize what they do and first, we help them actually turn the idea into a business, we help them turn the business into a marketing machine and eventually, into something that operates without them long-term.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. So, is one way to say that are you like a business mentor for experts?
Adam Urbanski: Pretty much, pretty much. On my screen I have this terms, marketing mentors, you know where businesses come to grow, but yeah for those who have some sort of expertise and they want results and they want them fast [inaudible 00:03:18].
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome, that’s awesome. Well, in part of getting to know you, you have a view around how the current school system or the way learning happens today has some limitations. Can you tell us your philosophy and your take on all that?
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, you know it’s really interesting because I think part of my psychological makeup and unique ability is to count, see a couple steps in advance. I’ve been quietly whispering about how the way schooling is today, really sets people at a disadvantage and a lot of people talk about it. People write books about this, the way schools work today doesn’t work. I only finished high school, never went to college and funny enough what started my coaching/consulting business, all of my clients were at least MBAs, most of them PhDs, very frequently with more than one PhD, like in more than one area.
I kind of secretly made fun of them, not so secretly. I made fun of them and said, “Look, you went to school for all those years, you paid all this money, now you come to a high school grad to teach you how to make business out of that.” But you see what happens whether it’s loving parents or religious background, or schools’ academic background or corporations, they’re set up to basically establish a box and you have to operate within that box. They tell you what’s right or wrong in their opinion. They will tell you when you name yourself, like whether you can have certain title or not. Whether you can take on certain responsibilities within the corporations or academic world.
Unfortunately or fortunately, today’s world doesn’t operate this way, right? If you want to break out from the crowd, if you want to establish any type of success attraction, you’ve got to operate outside of those parameters, you can’t operate by established rules. You got to break the status quo. Rules are changing so fast that if you try to follow them, by the time you figure out what they are they’ve changed already. Entrepreneurs, you can’t wait for someone to tell you that you’re good enough or you’ve got the right to do something. You essentially got to claim something and go for it.
From that perspective, schools and all sorts of academic training, corporate training backgrounds they set people up for failure by teaching them to memorize rules or memorize things but not necessarily think how to solve problems.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I kind of agree with you more in terms of building … teaching people how to operate inside of a fixed system or box, that’s one skill set. But the world is quickly moving to just so much more uncertainty and change happens even faster, so really the meta skill is that ability to adapt to change and really thrive in it. Thrive in it, create value in it, create opportunities inside of it, help people who are going through change, and the school system’s not designed for that.
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, you know Peter Diamandis wrote this book called Abundance, I think, and it’s kind of fascinating because he talks about how the world is actually better off than its ever been before, but he also talks a lot about different technology, different disruptions in different industries, right? People are massively finding themselves displaced, they can’t figure out what the heck is going on. I mean look, Facebook in terms of connectivity and technology, right? Yet people feel most disconnected ever, that’s why you’ve got all the dating sites. You can’t even find each other if you want two teenagers to go on a date, they’ve got to text each other. They can’t even communicate, so now you’ve got to have service teaching people how to talk face to face.
What I’m getting at is that the highest paid skill today is actually the ability to think creatively and solve problems. You’ve got to look at, okay, someone is trying to get from point A to point B and they have no idea how, and the old rules, how they traveled that path no longer apply and no longer work. How the heck we make it work? If you can figure that out without someone telling you how to do it, you can pretty much call your own shots.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I love that focus on what’s valuable today. When you help somebody else do that, you’re helping somebody else get results and that ties into a concept you have called The Results Revolution. So the people listening to this show are online course creators, membership site owners, people who are looking to generate leads through teaching online. What would you have to say to them about what the results revolution is and why is it important?
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, well you know depends on how long people have been in this industry. If you’re just getting in you may be completely unfamiliar with my pet peeve, but if you’ve been at it for a while you probably know kind of the dark secret of information marketing, online courses and that is that pretty much about 95% of people that will sign up for a course will ultimately fail. They will either not complete the course or they will fail to even get any positive ROI on their investment. If they break even they’ll be lucky, right?
I always talk about, look if this were car industry they would be out of business. There is no other industry where we can get away with 95% failure rate, and yet in online education, in remote coaching type approach, that’s pretty prevalent. So it always bothered me because I started out as a baker. As a baker, what do you do? You get a bunch of ingredients, you mix them up, throw them in the oven and like boom, an hour or two later you’ve got something amazing coming out. It’s aromatic, it smells, you can touch it, you can feel it, you can sink your teeth into it, so in a way I’m addicted to results. For myself and for clients.
When you work with someone and you know that you’ve put a lot of working into creating something, like a pathway, like a course, and they’ve invested money into this and you don’t see them get results that I know they want and they give up half way through, they don’t even cross the finish line, or they cross the finish line and then total flat line. I’m like, man, this is very disheartening. So I’ve been on this kick for years now, how do I reverse engineer this? For most people, there’s kind of a total, like a second line topic to it because I talk about the ultimate responsibility.
As an entrepreneur, as a business owner, and frankly I think in today’s society the ticket to winning is you got to accept absolute responsibility for everything, and where it ties into the results is that, look, when I do this and say look, you fail. You didn’t complete my course, right? It’s not my fault, you didn’t finish my course. Well I’ve got to realize that one finger points at them, but three point at me. I’ve got to ask myself how else could I have structured this course? How could I have made it easier? How could I have made it more fun? How could I make it more applicable for them? How could I make it more exciting so they want to come back and take the next module and next module? How could I have made it so it’s faster, it’s more implementable every step of the way so they actually start seeing results quickly? How could I have made client selection more effective so I only accept the right clients?
I mean everything is about how could I have made it better and more effective, right? I can ramble on, but ultimately for coaches, consultants, any type of learning program creators, we’ve got to realize that today we live in a results economy, and sure you can launch a product, you can launch total crap and make a million dollars. Problem is fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. People won’t be coming back, so if you want long lasting success you’ve got to do something that creates amazing results for people consistently, predictably, systematically, and ultimately profitable for you.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s … man, we are so on the same page about what’s important in the online learning industry. When I get approached with questions about building a course site or a membership site, if the questions are predominantly focused on how to lock down content and payment plans and conversion optimization, those are all fine and valid but I know the people that have the highest odds are success, they are the ones that are asking me, “How do I make my course engaging? What do you think about this lesson content? Is this gonna help people get results? What do you think about my assignments, I’m trying to not just give information but have people interact with the real world.”
When I hear stuff like that, those are the people who are focusing on the right things and focusing on results.
Adam Urbanski: I agree with you 100%, yeah.
Chris Badgett: Could you give an example, just a hypothetical two versions of a course, like kind of the old school way versus a new results revolution way, like how they might frame them?
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, from my own business because when technology became so easy, like recording audio and video, and then information marketing and Internet made it so easy to reach massive audiences and sell, the way to create an online program was look, create a live event, record the heck out of it and just put it out there. I’ve got courses where I’ve sold, and they’ve sold well, problem is that again the completion rates sucked, right? I have one course that I sold, here’s the kicker, I’ve sold almost half a million dollars worth over two years of a course that was something like 11 or 15 audio CDs, and then at one point I took a set of those CDs and started listening in my own car, like two years after, and I discovered that CD number three was blank.
Now Chris I never got a single fricken refund.
Chris Badgett: Why?
Adam Urbanski: Because nobody probably got to CD number three, I have no idea-
Chris Badgett: Oh, I see.
Adam Urbanski: What? Why? It’s embarrassing to admit, right, but that was the thing, record a seminar, put it out there. Now for an average person to sit through a 90 minute or two hour video segment, or even audio segment, it’s excruciating. You can’t remember Jack, even if you take copious notes, chances that you’re going to take any action ever are completely irrelevant, I mean very small, right?
So today what I do instead is if I create a course, when I create a course, it’s chunked into 7, 10, 15 minute segments. They cover one idea, they start with an idea, they give you an example, they give you a walk through, they give you a tool or an action step and then say go do it, right? Then you’ve got some kind of quiz or questionnaire or they got a call to action, like look don’t go forward, go and do something with it, and it’s got to be as enticing and as exciting and fairly easy to implement with detail for every step so the person gets into this and go, wow, this is really exciting. I just did this little thing and wow, boom, this feels good.
Even as simple as print out the little card, and every time you learn stick it on your door and say don’t bother me for the next 60 minutes, I’m learning. The action of printing it out gets people into some sort of implementation mode. So little things. Another thing that we did today, a person signs up for a $2,000 course and for the first 10 days they don’t even get the first module. Wait, what? Yeah, for the first 10 days we actually teach them how to study, number one, how to implement more effectively, number two, and then number three how to manage their time better, because most people are extremely busy so we first want to teach them how to empty their plate a little bit so they have room for new material to come in.
It pre-selects the right audience, it puts them in the right frame of mind. It’s almost like when you get students into a new class, you kind of develop this relationship with them first. You don’t go on day one, okay here is the hardest core topic to cover in the whole semester, we’re going to do it today. You kind of ease people into this, so we kind of do the same thing, so you’ve got two opposite ends of the spectrum.
Chris Badgett: That’s beautiful. Yeah, I think another way to look at it is it’s not just about the information. This whole industry was born out of publishing or information products, but this next wave, I don’t know what you would call it, they’re still information products [crosstalk 00:16:13]. Yeah, yeah so it’s all about assaults.
Adam Urbanski: Today, my best course, we just launched it about nine months ago, we actually have about 95% success rate and I am just so thrilled about this, but the whole idea, number one difference is that it’s all about extreme member or client selection, to the point where it’s how even introducing to the program. At this point we’ve got about 80% conversion rate from prospects to clients, but the reason it’s so high is because we get totally upfront who it’s for, who it’s not for, what kind of qualifications you have to meet, and then the reason it’s not 100% is because the 20% that don’t get in, we actually end up telling them this is not for you. Here’s a better path, we will take your money but this is not a course for you, so go somewhere else, right?
Here’s what I’m really getting at. The thing that we show our students is implementation is fundamental, information is supplemental. It’s all about go and start doing, and as you need information we’ve got it and we’ll point you in the right module, open the modules for you, we’ll tell you which part to study, but the last thing we want you to do is go and spend two hours a day consuming a bunch of info, only to run out of time to do anything with it.
Chris Badgett: That’s incredible, and I’m actually writing that down so I can steal that and use that later, and I will give you credit whenever I say it. Just to restate it for everybody listening, Adam said that implementation is fundamental, information is supplemental. I love that focus on being a guardian of your prospect or your learners’ time, and if you give them too much information you’re not leaving them time for implementation. Everybody’s crazy busy like you mentioned, so the sands are falling through the hour glass. Use those grains of sand wisely and not just for information. That’s really beautiful.
I also just want to highlight the use of an application process. You’re focusing more on qualifying the leads into your course and making sure they’re the right fit, than trying to get as many people as possible over the paywall into your membership site. It’s a totally different strategy and it’s totally, in some ways, counter-intuitive unfortunately, that that’s actually the path to higher levels of success by having a program that gets upward 90% plus success rate, that’s the best marketing you could ever do.
It’s not about converting cold leads off of ads, as many as possible into an information product.
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, and you know both have their place and depending of where people are in the path of their business development, that’s the strategy they’ve got to implement. You know, one thing that I’ve learned actually from kind of software companies like Airbnb, you’ve got a lot of people that either have course, have a software of some sorts, right? Airbnb is a great story for those who haven’t studied it, they should. They actually went to people that were renting different locations, they were talking to them, what’s working? What’s not working? They were taking the pictures, posting it online.
They were delivering the first commission cheques to talk to people. It wasn’t about how do we automate it better so we don’t have to talk to anybody ever, it was like how do we talk to those people more so we figure out what works, what doesn’t work. To me, that’s the path to success. Basecamp, one of those guys, what’s their name?
Chris Badgett: David Heinemeier Hansson, DHH.
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, so you know they started as a consulting business before they developed an online platform. I tend to think this is a better path because you’re focusing on working with someone hands on, helping them deliver the results they need to, want to get. Helping them figure out how to solve some problems, and then you think can I systemize this? Can I automate this somehow? Can I make this into a process that’s more hands-off for me and still delivers the results. But when people do it in reverse, and they try to automate too much, too fast, they end up putting a bunch of crap out there that’s untested, doesn’t work and then they focus on scaling and selling, and it’s like you can scale a bunch of crap but do you really want to do that?
Chris Badgett: That’s beautiful, yeah, I’m a huge fan of any kind of start-up education, technology, whatever to do things that don’t scale, especially in the beginning and have that feedback loop wide open so you know that you’re … that it’s working, number one, and number two that you have an opportunity to modify things and iterate before you start scaling. That’s really well said.
For the listener out there who is hearing what we’re talking about here and really getting on the same page of how important delivering results are and being selective and working with the people who are the best possible fit and committing to getting them results and taking responsibility as the platform owner or teacher, educator or mentor. If that all sounds great and I’m a little, I’m thinking … I know you talk a little bit about the scarcity and the abundant mindset and things like that, if I’m sliding a little bit to the scarcity side and I’m worried about the money, will anybody buy my program? This all sounds great, but if I’m going to have a smaller group of people that are highly engaged, highly committed, I need to charge higher prices and I should because it’s going to be an awesome experience and it’s going to deliver the results.
What advice do you have on creating a high end offer, and should it start with an online course or should it start with something else if you’re a mentor or a coach of sorts? What would you advise to us in terms of getting to revenue and getting to high end revenue?
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, so I tend to guide people to starting with higher end but more customizable, more hands-on offers, right, so there’s actually kind of a bit of a process that I’ll walk you through. I think going back to how education hinders people, a lot of folks start with they have an idea and they’re pretty good at something, but they have this imposter syndrome. I call it the Fraud Factor, they start thinking well who the heck am I? There are people that have got books on the topic and they’ve got a big following. Who am I to teach on this topic?
The worse thing you can do is start teaching them something that you just learned, you have no success, essentially you regurgitate other people’s information. It’s really a bad idea because you have no depth. I talk about talking the walk … I’m sorry, walking the talk. Wait a second, I’m just confusing myself. I did the right, talking the walk, that’s the one, talk the walk. It’s the reverse of what people normally hear, right? Somebody’s really walking the talk, which essentially means they’re now doing what they talked about for a long time.
I always say reverse that, which is talk the walk. So do something first and then talk about it, and it can be fairly small. It can be something as simple as, look, you put together an opt-in page for yourself and you put 1, 2, 3, 4 and every single one is getting really awesome conversion rate and maybe you’ve done something different. Well now you can really talk about creating high converting opt-in pages, based on your own experience and you can talk about is it really true that above the fold is the big deal? Does it have to be? I mean you can talk about all the variances because you now implemented some stuff, right?
Now you start teaching other people, you can go and say look, give me a couple grand and I’m going to put a really awesome opt-in page for you, and in fact I was not just an opt-in page but I want to create a really awesome first lead gen process for you, from the right material, the right topic, the right opt-in page to the right seven step follow up, because I’ve done this for myself. Essentially, you are now talking about something you’ve now done for yourself. This, to me, is the fastest path to start, to break out from the crowd, distinguish yourself and start offering something that can implement fairly significant amount of money, because you’ve become an expert on a very small area.
That’s kind of the first step. The second step for me is if you had a card blanche and a client came to you and said, “Look, money was no object. What really matters to me is that I want better result and I want it in a fastest, smoothest, frictionless way possible. What would you help me do? What can you do for me?” Essentially, you sit down and think to yourself, okay, what could I do for the client? And by the way, who would be an ideal client that I would want to work with, right? Get very, very specific.
When you do that you realize two things. Number one, there are people like this out there that want this kind of approach. Number two, you can charge a lot of money for that, and number three you need very few people to make a lot of money. The last part is, it’s actually not as time involving as most people think it is. Those high end client want result, they buy result they not buying your time, so if you can deliver better result in a day of work and charge for it $10,000, they don’t care that it took you a day. All they care is they got what they wanted and they got it fast.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, and I think that’s important.
Adam Urbanski: I just rambled on, I’m gonna shut up and let you say.
Chris Badgett: No, that’s good, I like that approach of starting with the high end client and getting into it, talking the walk, and just delivering high end results once you figure it out for people. If that’s $100,000 problem that you’re solving, and you charge $10,000 for it and it only takes you a day, that’s great. I mean that’s how high end clients think. They don’t care, they just want the result and if they’re getting a 10 x return on investment, it’s a no brainer.
Adam Urbanski: I think the biggest point for our listeners to get out of that is that you may initially have a different market to approach with your services. The person who buys done for you or done with you type program is different than buys how to learning course. The person who buys how to training course may not afford done for you, done with you services, because it’s the lower end of the spectrum in terms of the audience, right? You have to realize that sometimes how much you get to charge for what you do or for what you provide, for what you sell, has mostly to do with who you sell it to.
One of the biggest factors, it’s not about how do you make the course better or how do you just put more whistles and bells on it. It’s about finding the right person whose judging, whose buying criteria is not how many bonuses do I get in that, but it’s about what’s the least amount of time I get to put in there, and what’s the best result I get out of it, what’s the fastest? That’s what I care about.
I’ll give you an example. A while back I was selling a licensing training program. This is now years back, and man I’m pretty good at selling, but it was important to me that I get good result, plus I wanted to train some other people, and I wanted to run my methodology by someone else. I called someone else who’s kind of an expert on selling high end things and stripping, come on over to this four day event, it’s only $5,000. I said look, I really don’t want to go to a three day or four day event, I don’t want to do that. Give me three hours of your consulting time and I pay $6,000 for three hours versus $5,000 for three days. All I wanted was undivided attention for short amount of time, help me get this sucker figured out the way I want it figured out, and then I’m done.
That’s kind of the mentality. That’s the kind of buyer you’re looking for. I don’t want fluff, I don’t want processes, I want result, I want it fast, I’m willing to pay for it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome, well could you talk a little bit about the transition if somebody is doing done for you or done with you services to something that’s more do it yourself information but still results related and still high end? How do you make that transition?
Adam Urbanski: Yeah, that’s actually pretty easy transition, believe it or not. The other way around is not so easy. Look, if Ford Fiesta wanted to all of a sudden sell Bentley style type of cars, they would have a really hard time positioning, right? They would almost have to start a new brand, it doesn’t work. But look, Porsche, high end cars, what do they do to appeal to more mass bodies, they cannot put [inaudible 00:29:38], mini version, entry level Porsche.
The principle is the same. Your audience, there is a large population of your audience that is watching you going like, man I wish I could hire those guys to help me do this, right? I wish I could work with them but this is out of my budget. All of a sudden you come out with a course and say, look the same thing we do for those high end guys, the same processes, the same psychologies, the same mentality we teach them, we want to share that with you but because we’re going to leverage the platform as a group, your investment’s going to be a fraction of what they’ve invested. You’re going to have people beating a path to your door, going please let me in. I was waiting for this.
That transition is actually fairly easy. What your job as an educator, trainer, coach, consultant, content developer is to then take the core concept that you’ve helped clients implement and strip it from as much fluff as … you know, don’t add fluff because now it’s a course and you need more hours. Think about what do you actually need to teach that will help people move forward in the fastest, easiest way possible.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome, well Adam Urbanski, ladies and gentlemen, that was like a master class in the current landscape of education and where the opportunity is for education entrepreneurs out there. We talked about the results revolution and being really selective on the people that join your platform, and we talked about the counter-intuitive insight of creating a high end, done for you or done with you offer on your way to later creating something scalable, and we talked about the transition from that high end offer to something that is scalable, which is actually fairly easy to sell when you make the statement that learn exactly what we do for our high end clients at an affordable price because you’re going to do the work but we’re going to give you the steps and leverage this technology to do it in a group context, in a way that still works but can scale.
That’s beautiful stuff Adam. For the listener out there-
Adam Urbanski: You made it easy by asking the right questions, so thank you Chris.
Chris Badgett: Right on, well you’re at themarketingmentors.com. Where else can people find you across the Internet?
Adam Urbanski: You know, I think … I love to hang out on Facebook actually, believe it or not, I’m sort of addicted plus I do a lot of stuff in terms of delivering content for people right through Facebook groups, so just look up Adam Urbanski on Facebook and connect with me. Send me a message. I love to hear from you. But you know, I also want to give a shout out to your audience in terms of like giving them kudos for looking you up and listening to you because I scanned through a few of your episodes prior to coming on and listened to a couple. You’ve got fantastic guests, fantastic content, and I’m a big believer in kind of finding a couple of things and sticking with them.
So if someone truly is into productizing their teaching and their services and doing online courses, whether it’s very granual, whether it’s more done for you, with you, whatever you do I think you’ve got to stick with your podcast, and they got to come back and listen to a few more episodes. Man, if you found it valuable, Chris may not ask you, I’ll ask for him. Give him a great review because it really counts, so if you found value type in a few words and give him a few thumbs up, okay?
Chris Badgett: Awesome, well thank you Adam. I really appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your wisdom with us, and we’ll have to do it again sometime.
Adam Urbanski: I would love to.

EPISODE 150

How to Run Live Online Courses with Pro Podcaster and Community Builder Adam Silver

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about how to run live online courses with pro podcaster and community builder Adam Silver. Adam is a WordPress educator and trainer, and he runs a small boutique agency in southern California. He is also from the Kitchen Sink WP podcast and Concierge WP. In this episode we learn about Adam’s journey, and he and Chris discuss the community building aspect of course creation. They get into the pros and cons of providing limited versus lifetime access to your users as well.

Adam is a strong member of the WordPress community. He is great at building and nurturing a community online. The community aspect of course building is often overlooked. Chris and Adam discuss the importance in building a community around your product or around an existing community online. He shares tips on producing consistent content, and he shares his experience with building a community of WordPress users in his local area.

Adam shares his story of how he got involved with WordPress in 2009. He was a photographer, and he was doing professional work for a company for nine months when he got laid off. He needed to build a new website for his photography portfolio, and he ended up using WordPress. He started to build up some basic WordPress sites for some people, and then he learned more about WordPress through a podcast. Then Adam attended a WordCamp, which is a WordPress conference where everyone involved in the WordPress community can get together and discuss ideas and get to know each other. Adam built up relationships through these conferences and other events like it, and now he has his own podcast and website concierge company.

Adam hosts Meetups with the local WordPress community he has built up. People come to his Meetups to share ideas, hire people, and network. Sometimes businesses will sponsor Adam’s Meetups in order to gain access to his audience. Keeping the authenticity of his original intentions with the group is what is most important to Adam with his local Meetups. Remaining true to your original reasons for starting a project can help ensure that your development is genuine, and that is exactly what Adam has strived to do with his local Meetups.

When creating a podcast, producing consistent content is key to success. So doing one podcast every week or every two weeks is what you may need to do. And when scheduling out your podcasts, you should write a list of 52 or 26 topics in whatever field your podcast is on, depending on your planned podcast schedule. Adam also believes that having a passion behind your podcast will help drive its success.

To learn more about Adam Silver you can check out his podcasts. You can find them at kitchensinkwp.com/itunes and getoptionspodcast/itunes. Adam’s course is called WordPress Essentials. He is on Twitter at @KitchenSinkWP and @heyadamsilver, and he’s also on Facebook. ConciergeWP is Adam’s website concierge company, so feel free to check that out as well.

You can 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’ve got a special guest today, Adam Silver. He’s from Kitchen Sink WP and Concierge WP. He’s a WordPress guy. He’s a course builder guy. He’s a community guy. He’s a podcaster. We’re going to get into all of that and kind of learn from Adam about his journey, what’s working, what’s not working.
And really, I wanted to bring Adam on the show because he is such a strong member of the WordPress community, and he’s great at building community, nurturing community, which is such a sometimes overlooked part of creating an online course or membership site or some kind of tribe or getting involved in a tribe that already exists. It’s not just about creating a product and launching it and not even thinking about the community piece at all or just focusing on building the email list. There’s so much more to it than that, and that’s one of the key things I wanted to discuss with Adam.
But first, Adam, thank you for coming on the show.
Adam Silver: My pleasure. Hey, Chris, that’s … Wow. Well, I’m … I feel like with all description, I have split personalities. That’s awesome. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, we’ll get into that.
Adam Silver: Yeah, I’m happy to be here. Happy to talk.
Chris Badgett: Thanks. Well, thanks for coming. For people who haven’t heard about you yet, if somebody comes up to you at a part and they say, “Who are you, and what’d you do,” what’s your elevator pitch? Or what’s your story, the stories?
Adam Silver: So I say, “Hi, I’m Adam Silver, but I’m not the Adam Silver from the NBA,” because that’s the most famous Adam Silver. “But I am a WordPress educator and trainer, and I run a small boutique agency here in Southern California.” That’s how I word it.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: It took me a while to figure that out, by the way. It took me about nine month to figure those words, “A WordPress educator and trainer, and I run a small boutique web agency.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s awesome. I totally … I get that and appreciate that. When you do a lot of things and have a lot of interests and help people in a lot of different ways, it’s really hard to come up with an elevator pitch or whatever.
Adam Silver: Yeah. And otherwise, you know, I explain what I do. I do all these ten things within that, and people lose interest. And it’s not personal. It’s just like it’s too much to take in, so if you keep it short and concise, then people want to know exactly what that means, in the education, training, or the agency. Then, they can ask that question and peel back the layer. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Well, let’s get into your story a little bit in terms of community. How did you get involved with WordPress? And tell us about that journey into doing what you do today, which is you help … You put on a WordCamp. You have meetups. You go to conferences, WordPress conferences, events. I just saw you at PressNomics in Arizona.
Adam Silver: Yep.
Chris Badgett: What was your story? Like, how’d you first find that community, and how did you become so involved with it?
Adam Silver: So I got involved with WordPress 2009, late 2009, early 2010. It’s hard for me to remember exactly, but that’s pretty much … I’m pretty sure that’s right. I came into WordPress as a photographer. I was shooting corporate trade show, bellies … babies and bellies … You know, I started babies and bellies as a photographer, went to head shots and weddings, and then more corporate. And this was all based in Southern California, and then I moved to Colorado.
Then, I came back for a different job, so I kind of shut all that down to do some professional work for a company. And then, I got laid off nine months later. Based on that, I needed to build a new website, and I built it in WordPress. I messed around with Dreamweaver for about a week back in Colorado for a company I was doing some tech work for. And then, when I came back to California, I got laid off.
I found WordPress, didn’t know anything about the community. I had no idea. And I built the site, launched a new photography website because the old photography website was in Flash. It’s embarrassing to say, but it’s the truth. It had the swooshes, those color lines going through the header. I bought it, I think, at Template Monster, and that was dead. That was old.
So I found WordPress and built it in nothing. No business. The website’s not the end-all. It’s just a piece of the puzzle for anything, right? And then, as I was looking for more photography work, and I got some, I met some of the parents through my kids. And they asked me for help, so I started to help people basic one, two, three page websites in WordPress. And this was 2010 … No, probably 2011. Things were still clunky. I still didn’t really know. I’m not a pure developer, not a pure designer. I can implement things.
And then, I reached out. I guess I heard more about WordPress and the community based on a podcast. My buddy Dustin has one, Dustin Hartzler. He’s a good friend. Yeah, because I went to iTunes and I typed in WordPress podcast, and I found a couple. Some were already already gone and dead, and his was popular. I reached out. We became friends. I spent the night at his house. He lives in Ohio, works for Automatic now.
And then, slowly but surely, I attended a WordCamp, and I’m like, “Oh, I want to be a part of this group.” And it’s just a matter of just slow baby steps and building up. Building friendships is really what it came down to, and helping to me. And it was amazing to me. It really was amazing, Chris, that I attended WordCamp Orange County 2011 or ’12, and everybody was just really nice. And it was shocking to me in a sense, and I just didn’t really see it coming. I’m like, “This is awesome. These are my people.”
So that’s kind of the short version, and then the rest is history. I just put in the time and built friendships. I mean, and the way you and I met … I mean, who would’ve thunk it? We met two years ago at Cobble Press, right? And then, here we are two years later. I’m on your show.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, right.
Adam Silver: And I’ve had one of your … You know, one of your old business partners was on my show. It just takes … It’s an amazing community, so I’ve been a great proponent of it. And I started a meetup in Southern Cal, one of the meetups here. I led WordCamp LA last year, and I’m the lead organizer this year, as well.
So that’s the short version.
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s look at that a little bit in terms of the meetup.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: For those of you that don’t know, Meetup. Com is a website that just facilitates creating in-person gatherings around a particular topic.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: In the WordPress community, meetups are … They’re a pretty popular way for people to get together on, like, a monthly basis or something like that. But what … did you start the meetup?
Adam Silver: So there are, in Southern California, about ten in a general area. The one I used to go to was like downtown or in the West Side, and I lived down by the beach. It was kind of hard to get to. I got to it. It wasn’t a big deal. I had three young children … not that young anymore. So my wife was home, so I could go at night and do these things.
But it got problematic as far as scheduling. So there wasn’t one in my area, so I reached out to the other organizer, Natalie. And I said, “Hey, do you mind if I start one, like, in my area?” She didn’t care. I just didn’t want to step on toes, so I started one. And that was three and a half years ago. I worked about 350 people in the whole meetup. 30 to 40 are active.
So it’s just a matter of bringing people together, doing a presentation once a month, being consistent. You know, I remember trying to schedule it and asking the group, like, “When do you want to have it? Where do you want to have it,” you know? And then someone told me, “Adam, it’s your meetup. You pick what works for you, and people will show up or they won’t.” So my meetup is the third Thursday of each month. I have it a nonprofit building where my wife used to work, and people show up. And I feed people, so that’s the key, you know? We have a pretty good spread every meeting.
Well, my meetup, ironically, is … the day we’re recording this, it’s tomorrow. But obviously, this’ll be out way after the fact, but the third Thursday of the month. And we’re doing a burrito bar tomorrow night.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So what do people get out … Just in general, if somebody has a course topic or learning platform topic and they’re thinking about starting a local meetup, which is a great idea to get out from behind the computer and engage with real people around a common interest, what … That’s, like, philosophically how it works, and you’re talking about what you do to make it successful and all that. But what do the people get … What do you get out of it as a leader, and what does the people get out of it?
Adam Silver: Okay.
Chris Badgett: Like, what are the main benefits?
Adam Silver: So I think some people come to it for different reasons, and Meetup is … So Meetup’s basic rules are to get … You have to meet in person. That’s kind of like their mantra. If you want to go birdwatching or do photographer or go surfing, it’s do something outside of your home or behind your computer. WordPress … And you can charge for meetups. A lot of groups do. They charge for events, because sometimes, there’s an extra cost, and actually, the cost to even run the meetup. You know, it’s 160 bucks a year. No big deal, technically.
I think people come in the meetup, in the WordPress, either needing help or wanting to give help or looking to hire somebody. So there’s a couple different purposes, and some people are unaware … You can be surprised. I’ve had people come to my meetup who have asked … been very forward that they want to sponsor the meetup, or they want to be on my podcast. They’re looking for a stage. They’re looking for access to my audience, and my audience is the meetup that I run or my podcast listeners, right? And I’m very protective of them, and I want to … I’m not going to shill and take your money, your sponsorship money, just because. That’s not how I play this game. It’s not a game. That’s not how I run my life. I want to be authentic, and I want to offer value in everything that I do.
So I’ve told people no many times. I won’t take your sponsorship money. Invest in keep showing up, unless you help us. Offer value, you know? Contribute in some capacity. So I think people’s intentions are varied.
Now, my intention, my purpose, is I like to share and teach and speak. Simple.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Adam Silver: And nobody else down here was going to do it, so I … So it was me, you know?
Chris Badgett: Very cool.
Adam Silver: I hope that answers your question.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, it definitely does. Yeah, I’d encourage people, if they haven’t attended a meetup or they’re thinking about starting one, that it is a good idea. I’m actually in the process right now of starting a meetup in my area where I live, on the coast of Maine. It’s called MidCoast Maine. It’s a WordPress meetup, but it’s also for people specifically … I’m not just trying to do a WordPress meetup. It’s also for educators and people who are trying to use technology and education and entrepreneurship and that kind of thing. So I’m trying to create a meetup that surrounds the issues that I’m really passionate about.
Adam Silver: So you could actually … People don’t realize this. You could actually have three groups within the same payment, by the way. You could have MidCoast Maine, and then have one for WordPress, one for educators, one for podcasting, if you want. You can break them up into three within the one payment. So people don’t realize that. So I could do another one under my one payment.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s good to know.
Adam Silver: It’s just a little … Yeah. So people don’t know this, so I keep thinking about doing one for podcasting in the area under my main meetup, under that brand, so …
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s a great idea. Yeah. I didn’t know that you could do that.
Adam Silver: Just an FYI.
Chris Badgett: Thank you. Well, let’s talk a little bit about-
Adam Silver: See, I’m bringing value.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit about conferences. And you know, you’re a pro at getting out of the building, which a lot of people struggle with. How do you decide … Like, I’ve met you at a WordPress mastermind event, a WordPress business event … My business partner Thomas works with you on a WordPress WordCamp event.
Adam Silver: Oh, right. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Like, how do you decide what to attend and lead? Like, how do you choose? Because sometimes, it can be … there’s a lot of choices. So how do you decide?
Adam Silver: So for me, I’m in a unique position that a couple years ago, my wife and I made the conscious decision that I would attend … I’ll keep this show clean, a handful of WordCamps. A bucketload. We’ll say it that way, and purpose … and with the primary purpose of me to get out to meet more people, to network.
I had a day job, and I’ve been sharing this journey also on my other podcast, so you know, on Kitchen Sink. And I had a day job for three and a half years, and it provided for us. It wasn’t a great situation. I did social media marketing for a company. It was fine. But while I did that, I taught a class in person. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. I spoke at camps and et cetera, and I did stuff, and I ran the meetups. And I really wanted to do more of that.
I love … Like, I don’t mind the social media, the job, but it was just a job. It wasn’t really … And it wasn’t just the job. It was the company I worked for I wasn’t really enthused with at the end of the day.
So we picked camps that made sense to go to where, if I could travel inexpensively enough … you know, out of pocket. And I’ve talked to Chris Lum about this, because he was on my show way back. And there’s … sometimes, there’s people discussing, like, “Oh, there’s that WordPress circuit. There’s a speaker circuit.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Well, yeah. There is a speaker circuit in any industry, for one.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: But particularly in the WordPress space, we’re all out of pocket. No one’s getting paid to speak.
Chris Badgett: Right.
Adam Silver: So now, and I remember looking at Chris that way, way back. I mean, I didn’t really give that much over … well, thought. I just overheard someone talking about it in line at a conference, and “Oh, Chris is here, and he’s in the circuit with other people.” And I’m, like, thinking so myself, so I asked him about it. He’s like, “Yeah, yeah. I’m … Sure, I speak. I go around, but we’re all out of pocket. We all pay our own way.”
And so I picked things I could … You know, I would apply to speak. If I got accepted based on the camp, I would fly out and put myself up, or I’d stay with community members. That’s also the greatest thing about WordPress community. You meet friends. I’ve traveled with people that I’ve met in person at a WordCamp.
I went to Cabo, to [inaudible 00:13:25]. I went to Costa Rica last year with my friend, Kyle Maurer, and met him at WordCamp Dayton, because he listens to my podcast. And so him and his … I talk to him every day. We have a podcast together now. We traveled together last year to Costa Rica with his wife and my wife and my family.
So I pick the camps, just, that I want to go to anyways and I want to speak at. There was a conscious decision to kind of brand me a little bit more as a subject matter expert. I guess that was my purpose, but with the long play. I’m not looking to make a quick buck. I’m looking to help community. And at the end of the day, if someone wants to hire me, great.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: You know?
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s talk about the power-
Adam Silver: And I would say … yeah, I was going to say this. But I was fortunate that I had a day job. A lot of people … it’s hard to balance. I had a day job, and I had support of my wife, so …
Chris Badgett: Yeah, those … that’s huge. That’s huge.
Well, let’s talk about …
Adam Silver: Or huge.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk a little bit about the power of podcasting.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I know you from Kitchen Sink WP, and then your new one with Kyle.
Adam Silver: The new one’s called Get Options Podcast.
Chris Badgett: Get Options? So you’re a prolific podcast creator.
I was also aware, because I’ve been around the WordPress for a while. And as somebody who lives in the country or more remote, not in urban areas, I rely a lot on podcasts to increase my knowledge in certain areas, WordPress being one of them. So Dustin’s podcast, a long time ago, I used to listen to about WordPress, which was great. Matt Report, all the good … There’s a lot of great WordPress podcasts out there.
But what are your … What’s your podcast portfolio now?
Adam Silver: So the two shows I have are Kitchen Sink WP.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Which I’m up to episode 169. Every Monday, it comes out. I have not missed a Monday yet, and Get Options podcast … we’re on episode 15. It also comes out on Mondays, but we’ve missed a two week stint because Kyle took a job, and he had to go do some traveling. And so you know, Kyle works for Pippin Williamson now, so … But so we do a weekly show there, too.
And I have on my board behind me … nobody can see it, but in our call here, I have ideas for three other shows. None of them are WordPress related. One’s business focused and one is just more kind of a motivational focus that’s just some other interests, so …
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: So I guess … yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, why … we’re going to get into your course that you’re building right now, and your training project. But what do you get out of podcasting? I’m sure it has some similar community building benefits, and it allows you to connect and make new friends, and … But why do you do it?
Adam Silver: I find it easier to speak than I do to write 800 words weekly.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Adam Silver: Like, so, I tell people all the time, “Do what makes the most sense for you.” If you want to blog, then blog. If you want to make a video, do a video. If you want to podcast, do a podcast. And I have spoken about this at length at other conferences recently, this past six-eight months. The secret to success … consistency. Whatever you’re going to do, do it, and be consistent.
I’ve miscategorized the category in WordPress for the podcast to be picked up by the feed in iTunes, the RSS. I’ve missed it twice in 169 episodes, and I’ve heard about it. You know, people become accustomed to getting your show at a certain date and time, right? Whether they listen to it later … but some people run to my show. Some people do dishes, drive in traffic, who knows. But I’ve missed the checkbox, the podcast category, and I get a tweet or a text. “Hey, where’s the show?” So the consistency’s key.
So I really enjoy doing it. And right when I think no one’s listening, I get an email from somebody, which is really flattering. I have some people listening in Sri Lanka, Dubai … and what’s the other one? I just got another one not too long ago. Was it … I think it was Norway. So it’s out of the blue, like, “Hey, we like your show. We’re in Norway.” I’m like, “Sweet,” you know?
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: We do …
Chris Badgett: That’s really cool.
Adam Silver: It’s very cool.
Chris Badgett: And if people want to … Can you say the names of them again, and where people can find them?
Adam Silver: Yeah, so if you go to kitchensinkwp.com/itunes, you’ll get to it. And if you go to Get Options Podcast /itunes, you can also get there. You can also listen to it on the main website, as well.
And the Get Options show, just so people can know, it’s a little bit irreverent. It’s a lighter side. It’s a Q&A show. People send in questions or voicemails, and we answer them. We give options … some good, some not so good, and we try to have fun with the show. We don’t take it too seriously, but we give … Actually, that’s not true. We do take it seriously, but the first round of options may not be the best to choose from.
And we based it off of an old radio show called … Click and Clack, the car guys, Car Talk, where people would call up and say, “Hey, my 1979 Toyota Tercel makes a weird noise when I turn left. What do I do?” And one of the brothers would say, “Don’t turn left,” you know? So that kind of … We have fun that way.
And Get Options is a query in the database, that option. So that’s … so yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, I just want to say that I think podcasting … that in general, the ship has not sailed.
Adam Silver: Oh, not at all.
Chris Badgett: We may be technologists here and early adopters of podcasting as a medium. When we’re driving around in our car or exercising or doing the dishes or whatever, we may have our earbuds plugged in, listening. But I’m envisioning a time in the future where podcasts are going to be even more accessible inside cars. Maybe they already are in certain ways, but people are going to start adopting it more.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And when you go around, you want to listen to exactly what you want to listen to.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Not, like, the pop charts of information.
Adam Silver: Yeah, like, okay. I literally listen to about 30 hours a week of podcasts, ranging from one other … one or two other … I listen to Dustin’s show still. He’s a good friend. And we all … and Dustin actually is the one who challenged me to do one. “I want to do my own podcast.” He’s like, “Do it,” for about four months. He’s like, “Is it done? Is it done?” I’m like, “No.”
And we have the same topics. In essence, we’re going to overlap to some extent. We have the same … a similar style. Different format of the show, but just because I … You know, it’s something that … Not everybody’s going to like his voice or his take on things or mine. It’s also hard to podcast about a technical topic, so my show is short. His used to be a lot longer. He’s shortened it up, also. I think he realized I was right, you know? My show is about 15 minutes or less, unless I interview somebody.
But I share tip and tool of the week … I have a format to my show, so it’s pretty basic. But I think podcasting is still here to stay, and growing by far.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: It’s still a great medium. You can be very niche, you know? And the fact is, I have a pretty good following now in my niche, in the niche of WordPress. You know, I average decent numbers of downloads, but you know …
Do you know how many … Yeah, how many downloads do you have? Do you know, on your show, on this show?
Chris Badgett: I honestly have a-
Adam Silver: Do you look at analytics?
Chris Badgett: I have a complete fail on analytics. I’ve never even looked at them.
Adam Silver: So I look. I keep on track.
Chris Badgett: And again, I hear people all the time who say like, “Hey, I’ve been listening to your podcast, or I saw you on YouTube.” Like, I know it works as a way to reach people and connect. I just don’t …
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I haven’t gotten into the analytics of it. I should.
Adam Silver: Yeah, and I’ve got [inaudible 00:20:38] sponsors, so I do know my average downloads per week. And it’s on steady growth, and that’s the thing. Nothing has zoomed me straight up, and that’s fine. It’s been slow and steady.
And I always tell people … Here’s how I express a podcast to people. They say, “Hey, should I do a podcast?” I’m like, “Do you want to speak every week? Do you like to talk to people, in a sense, that are out there?” “Yes.” And I say, “What you need to do is you need to pick a topic that you could have … If your subject … you come up with 26 ideas, then it may not be the right …” And they go, “Why 26?” I go, “That’s every other week for a year.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Okay? Instead of saying, “Do 52,” 26, you know? Or even 25, and take two weeks off, if you really want. Like, okay. But right out … Like, so if your topic is gems, if you can come up with 26 things within gemstones to talk about … If they can’t, then it may not … You need to have passion behind it.
I am surprised, on a weekly basis, that I’ve done 169 episodes. You know, every week, I’m like, “Well, I’m talking about something.” I have ideas all the time, but I want to speak intelligently about them and not just be too surface-y. And still, not all my shows … I’m honest … I’ve been happy with. I’ve only scrubbed, started over probably four times in the three years that I’ve been at it where I’m like, “Oh, that sucked. Let me rewrite that. Let me just figure something out and reword all of that.” But other than that, I just let it go, because it’s not the end-all. A, it’s a podcast. B, it’s part of the bigger picture of helping the community and driving traffic and getting people interested in what I do, so …
But yeah, my long play is I still do it because I love doing it, so …
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, let’s transition into talking a little bit about your course, your big launch.
Adam Silver: Yes.
Chris Badgett: What is it, and what’s it called?
Adam Silver: So my current course is called WordPress Essentials. It used to be called something else, but I had to stop because of a cease and desist.
And I used to teach in person. For about four years, I taught it in a five week session at the adult school locally, and I loved it. I really did. But when I went solo on my own, I was paid hourly as a district employee, technically, as a teacher. You know, as an adult school teacher, and it was great. I really liked it. It was extra money, in the sense of … because I had that day job, so it really didn’t matter. And I gave a lot. All the students got a subdomain to work in, like, a sandbox. And then, they would take the class. You couldn’t hire me in those five weeks.
But then, they would eventually come around and join my meetup and then come around, maybe. Out of, let’s say, 15 students, I might get a client or two for some hourly work or for a small project. It was great, and it put me in the community. Again, another way to be in front of people, and I really like teaching the basics of WordPress, WordPress Essentials.
When I left the day job, I decided to not teach at the adult school and do it on my own, and to do it in person, still. Charge more, so … because I had to rent a space, you know? And I had to do all that, all my own marketing, and it didn’t go so well. I tried to do two or three sessions.
Originally, the class was like 84 bucks for the adult school. I was going to charge 249, which is still a pretty good deal, in my opinion. And then, when I had three people sign up, it’s not enough to pay for the rent of the space. I waited a few months, did it again at 199. Still not enough, and I did it one more time. I had two or three people, so I had to refund people. I lost money on all three tries, because I had to … the refund, PayPal kept … They kind of messed it up, so I lost probably 50 bucks on all that.
And then, I decided to transition it and make it online as a webinar, live webinar class, and it’s doing better.
Chris Badgett: So let’s talk about that. Why-
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Why not create a WordPress Essentials video course? Why do the webinar? Like, the live option?
Adam Silver: Okay. So I’ll tell you why, because my friend Cory over at A2 Hosting … he and I, we talk all the time. And he’s really smart, and he’s in marketing. And sometimes, you just don’t … It’s almost like a married couple. I wasn’t here when he was saying, “I was thinking what you were thinking, as far as put together a video, make it dripped out over a four week start and stop.” You know, just, “What’s the way? Well, what’s the best way to go? How much do I charge?”
The indecision was killing me, as well. So Cory kept saying, “Just do it online. Do it online.” I’m like, “Okay. And I have to go make the videos, record them, edit them, install it …” And I’ve used Lifter, and I mean, I’ve tested a few times. I’ve done a review on my show a couple times, as well as some other competitors. And then, well, I go, “Which platform do I use?” Because I’m friends with everybody who makes these platforms, and I’m still torn, to tell you the truth. It’s kind of funny.
So Cory was saying it, and I just wasn’t hearing it. He’s like, “No, no. Take what you have. Don’t go with the videos right now. You have people who want your class. Take it, make it shorter. Make it three weeks. Drop the price to $99, and do it as a live webinar.” I’m like, “Oh, like, do it live?” And I didn’t even think about that. I’m like, “Okay.”
So I created a quick splash page, did … And I had five signups within the first day, so there was something there.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And because I bought into Webinar Ninja like a year ago through a special. I got it for 50 bucks lifetime. So now, it’s like 45 a month, so I was like, “Okay,” figured it out, got students. I did a first run three weeks ago, four weeks ago, coming up. So I had ten students. It was great.
There are problems, in my opinion, with it, doing it this way. It’s great because it’s live. People pay for it. You get the recordings, versus in my class, you didn’t get a recording. If you missed a class, you missed a class. Here, if you miss it or you have to leave early, you still get a recording.
The problem is the feedback loop. I really like this. You and I, right now, can see each other and hear each other.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And in person, you have that dynamic in a classroom setting. People ask questions.
In the Webinar Ninja way, there’s a chatroom. I can see the chat window, but I can’t hear you. So I’m not sure. It’s a different … I can’t assess certain things. So there’s that aspect on the feedback loop, which I don’t like. But it is what it is.
And then, down the line, I’m still launching … and I still have to acquire new students every … so every time I want to do this. And if you can’t take a class online when I offer it, I lose a sale, right?
So I will probably transition this bit to doing a standardized course video set, you know, using an LMS. So it might be cheaper. You take it. You get the videos. You’re on your own. If you want access to me and/or the subdomain and somewhere one on one or a group call every week, it’s going to cost more. I’ll do different tiers and that kind of thing. So that’s what I’m looking at.
Chris Badgett: Well, let me ask you, how many …
Adam Silver: Yeah?
Chris Badgett: For the $99 three week course, how many webinars is it, and how long are they?
Adam Silver: Oh, so it’s three webinars.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Adam Silver: So it’s three lives on Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. Pacific to noon, two hours, up to two hours. And the two hours is twofold. One, that’s really all people can really take, you know?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: In my opinion. And two, it’s also the limitation of Webinar Ninja, so it worked out really well. Yeah, so yeah. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So what’s the learning objective? Like, in your three week WordPress Essentials course, what are they trying … What’s the benchmark of success?
Adam Silver: I think having a really comfortable … a comfort level with the back end of WordPress, the dashboard, all the settings. How to add a post, a page, a theme, a plugin, make some customizations. Nothing with code. No CSS. No PHP, none of that. A once-over. It’s really essentials. It’s basics.
And I also do a ton of best practices, liking of things, video concepts … you know, like, not installing … not uploading videos your actual shared hosting, but using a service as I do that. So I go over that breadth of … you know, here’s what I’ve learned in the … I’ve been doing this. Even though hosts say it’s unlimited bandwidth, it’s really not. You know, you put up a video that gets a lot of plays, they’re going to shut you down, because that’s not what they want on shared hosting.
So I go over a lot of best practices, a lot of … I don’t know how else I want to word it. Just information things and resources, as well. Where to find themes, the difference between the premium/freemium model as well, so …
And then, as questions … and the e-commerce comes up all the time. Like, people say, “Hey, are you going to teach a second version of this or an advanced course?” But once you say advanced, it means ten things to ten different people … ten different things, you know what I mean, to ten different people. Because what’s advanced to you might be theme development or plug-in development or e-commerce or a gallery. It just depends, right? Or social media or analytics.
So the most popular is really e-commerce, and I’m planning on doing an e-commerce course. But again, I’m thinking about doing a low cost of entry, in-person, three hours, WooCommerce course, and then maybe convert that to an online, as well. I don’t know. It’s tough. I’m torn. I’m not sure.
You tell me. What’s better to go? How should I go about this, Chris?
Chris Badgett: Well, I’m still in the information-gathering phase.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But I want to say that I really commend you on what you’re doing, because what I would call that in the world we operate in, with the launching an online course business … one of the things we recommend is to pilot a course. And you’re doing textbook piloting.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: You’re doing it in person. You’re trying to validate. You’re doing it live with this robust … Well, and you don’t have a great feedback loop, which we’ll talk about in a second, because of the limitations with Webinar Ninja and just the format there. But you’re doing that, and really, when you do that, then you figure out and you get all those questions back and forth, like what people actually want. What’s really working well?
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: What’s not working well? What’s missing? And then, when it … Then, you really earn the right, in some ways, to make a … Not earn the right, but confidently launch a more passive course.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: With the confidence that you know it has what it needs to give people that learning outcome. And you can still … Like, even before you go fully passive … and maybe you never will, and that’s great. You can still have a passive course with, like, a weekly ask me anything office hour group thing.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: And then, you still have that feedback loop. And you can charge more for your course, because you have that personalized medium available.
Adam Silver: Well, yeah.
Chris Badgett: And just-
Adam Silver: And the other side-
Chris Badgett: Go ahead.
Adam Silver: I mean, I could always … I could take it away form Webinar Ninja. I could put it here on Zoom, and then there’s that feedback loop. I could share me screen. There’s other services. It’s just that what I’m using works because of the registration format, because that ninja has the automatic reminders of, “Hey, this is coming up.” Those little things are there. They’re in place.
You know, like anything else, there’s no perfect solution. They’re just what works for you right now. And I know of a guy who charges a lot of money for a class. Like, $2000. It’s for podcasting. It does really well, but his is a four week class, and it starts and stops. And a lot of people … they start the class, and they stop it on purpose, because they take … They open enroll, they close enrollment, and it starts. And you can ask any questions you want in that four weeks. That way, everyone’s along on the same ride.
Now, whether or not they get their show on the air, whether or not you get your site launched, you can only do so much. But that way, if you need to make changes for the next round, you can, because WordPress changes. You know, we’re at 4.75 that came out yesterday. By the time … who knows? Maybe something changes in 4.8 that we need to update the videos for.
And to have a passive video … to me, the issue is, you know, what if something’s totally different or wrong and I have to go fix it? I don’t know. Just, it’s a personal thing that I probably need to get over to some extent.
And then, also, the questions. You don’t want … I mean, you’re right. If it’s lower cost and passive, and here’s all the content. You’re on your own, great. If you want more help and guided help or a subdomain and a sandbox to test it, that costs more, because I have to set that up.
So there’s pros and cons to all of it, right? So …
Chris Badgett: Absolutely.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And I think that shows a lot of just keen thought into what’s going on, like, and how WordPress changes. Like, for example, about four years ago … maybe longer. I created my first WordPress course. I put it on Udemy. I never updated it, and recently, Udemy actually took it down. I’m not sure why. It might’ve been because it was outdated or something. There’s a lot of issues going on with Udemy, but like, I didn’t keep it updated. I moved on to other things, and a lot of people got a lot of value. I got up to, like, 10 thousand people in that course.
Adam Silver: Wow.
Chris Badgett: But I didn’t make that commitment to stay with it.
Adam Silver: Well, right.
Chris Badgett: And a software like WordPress … I mean, the interface looks different. It’s changed so much. It’s not … I mean, it was a good piece of content at the time, but it’s kind of run its shelf life.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: And I think that the … I’d like to invert or take the opposite approach sometimes on the passive income, make something that’s evergreen, make money while you sleep concept that doing … I’m actually not a big fan of lifetime access.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: Because I like the cohort approach, and to travel with a group of students and build a learning community that’s like, everybody’s at the same place. That’s a really cool way to approach it, and really valuable.
Adam Silver: But here’s the question, though.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: For yourself and for people listening, how do you balance the fact that … Look, I have to launch every … I’m launching every three weeks a new session, versus … And that’s a hard way to show consistent income. It’s going to vary, because you … I don’t know. I’m not at a point yet where yes, I have a following, and yes, it’s growing.
Like, this next set of classes, the students I have … I don’t know anybody in this next set. The first set, I knew almost everybody. It was weird. Some people took the class again. They wanted a refresher. Some people were referrals based on the meetups and the community. They were supporting me, which is great. This next set of 15 students … Right now, I don’t know any of them, which is pretty cool.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Some are far. Someone’s … I think one’s back in … I think Rhode Island. I think they signed up this morning. I think it was Rhode Island.
But I’m almost tempted on having an offering of a membership site, because a membership site is value, as well, as long as you’re adding content and adding extra questions and making a forum. Then, people are paying 10, 15, 20 bucks a month, right? And you know what that value is. Every month, you can see it, and you can some turnover and some attrition, right? But I … that concept idea from a business perspective better, but from a perspective of … I guess it goes back now with … We didn’t even touch on that whole impostor syndrome. Like, “Well, people are going to pay to be in my membership course?” I don’t know. So I don’t know.
Chris Badgett: I think they will. I mean, they already are.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: And I mean, to me, $99 with direct access live calls actually sounds a little on the cheaper side.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But like, pricing is a big thing. So if you want to get into recurring monthly revenue, which you definitely want as an entrepreneur and a person who has bills to pay, you can do that. But you have to provide recurring value, so …
Adam Silver: Right. Right.
Chris Badgett: But having a … Like, I love positioning things where, “Okay. Here’s the lower end offer. Here’s the higher end offer, and here’s …” You know, so that you can meet the market wherever they are.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: So for like, somebody who just wants to dip their toes in the water, maybe the membership is a good idea. But they don’t get any live access, or maybe that’s a place where past people who went through the webinar series could just keep as long as it was useful to stay up to speed and stay current and reference, like … Well, let me go back to that lesson about this. Or maybe Adam’s updated the video on this, because the users screen looks different, or something like that.
Adam Silver: Yeah. Yeah, and I was just like-
Chris Badgett: And you do it all. I mean, you have a podcast. You have a community. You have Concierge WP, where you provide service. And then, you have education. So as long as you’re surrounding your … the same customer, just at different stages or kind of the same community …
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: There’s no reason not to have all these different offers and figure out what works.
Adam Silver: Right. You know, and I’m pretty … I made the decision … I think it was nine months ago. No, not quite, but seven months ago, about a month or two after I left the day job, on the branding of how … what I was doing. Because if I was talking to somebody at a conference, I had a business card with me for Kitchen Sink. But they were asking me about maintenance and updates and/or development. I’d give them my Kitchen Sink card. I’d go, “But email me here.” And so, it’s confusing.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And my parent company name was Silver Lining Productions. That’s my d/b/a, my LLC. It was very confusing, you know? So I made the conscious decision to say, “Okay. These are the two brands. This is how I divvy it out.” Some of my billing, like, comes from an SLP account because of my taxes and stuff, and clients don’t care about that. That’s fine. You know, I use FreshBooks. It’s not a big deal.
But now, I’m very clear that Concierge WP is development, maintenance, that type of work for money. Nothing … technically, nothing is there given away at the moment. You know, no blog, even. Actually, that site’s going to get updated as well. It’s missing some information. Kitchen Sink is all about community education, and I do it … And I teach a class under that brand. So classes will be under that brand for money. So yeah, you know?
But you’re right. It’s a matter of having … I like to be involved in all three of those things and the podcast, and then the podcast helps spread the word as well. I could see the podcast in … that it could go under the brand of Concierge. It could become … I could change it, but at this point, why? You know …
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, you can also … like, in terms of monthly revenue you can systematize your marketing.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So then, if you knew …
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: Even though it’s cohort-based and like, it’s not feast or famine, “Oh, got to go round up, like, 9, 10, 15 new students,” maybe you can figure out some kind of advertising model, whether that’s content-based or paid or whatever that works for you that’s really dependable.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So that you can kind of confidently know, “Next month, I’m going to … there’s going to be another crew, and it’s going to be okay.” Or maybe you work on the issue of like, “Well, how do I scale it up so that I can still provide the same level of service to like 50 students at a time?”
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: You know, focus on it different ways.
Adam Silver: That’s an issue on the … like, on the Webinar Ninja stuff, I can have up to 100 in the class. But I wouldn’t be able to handle 100 students with Q&A. There’s no way. I think 20-25 would be the cap. I mean, right now, it’s open. I mean, if I had that many, I would probably just have a second session. Like, I would just do … I don’t know. I’d figure it out.
Chris Badgett: Or you could hire-
Adam Silver: I think that’s a good problem to have.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, or you could hire, like-
Adam Silver: Yeah, I’ve seen those monitor the room, the chat, and obviously say, “Look, I can’t answer everyone’s question. We’ll get back to you,” and I put it … Because every class gets its own class website.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: And every student gets their own sites. On the class website would go … All the Q&A would go there. I would just take the next day and do that, and it’d be great. I have no problem doing that.
So I’ve not limited how many students I take at the moment, because I’m not a … I don’t have that bridge to cross just yet, so … I wish.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, one of the other things I’d-
Adam Silver: Yeah, I was going to say … I’ll wait.
Chris Badgett: One of the other things I just want to acknowledge about your platform is the extreme focus on the beginning. You know, a lot of us get into this technobabble … Like, we get too far away from the beginner, and you’re talking about … You’re not talking about becoming a programmer or developer or a high end graphic designer. You’re talking about a WordPress implementer, which is, to this day, all that I am. I have …
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: I make a WordPress software product. I have developers on my team. I have designers on my team, but at the end of the day, my relationship with WordPress is as an implementer, so I’m a lot more like the users of my product than people who build the product or whatever.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: Which allows us to kind of … It helps stay in touch with the needs of the regular WordPress implementer, which you can still do an incredible amount with.
Adam Silver: These days, a lot more can be done with just that knowledge. I have a friend of mine, Serena. She is a fan. I don’t know. I met her through WordCamp LA or the meetup, and she tries to pitch me all over town to the General Assembly, to different places to teach and speak.
And I told her one day … I said, “You know, Serena, I’m not the best developer or designer.” She goes, “Oh, no, I know.” I’m like, “What?” And then, she’s … I go … You know, she says, “Oh, no, they’re designers and they’re developers, but you’re a really good teacher. You can break down both those concepts to what people understand, and you’re funny.” So I’m like, “Thanks.” And I have that shtick. You know that.
And but I do a pretty good job with that. That’s my thing. I like helping the people that are starting out, and I get it. Because I think if you’re a pure developer, you might be just too smart for the room. If you’re a pure designer, you might be too ethereal, too much based on white space versus dark space versus font and layout. And again, people need a solution. They need to know the basics of WordPress.
And yes, there’s tons of videos out there on YouTube, on Udemy, and for free. But people keep coming to me because I’ve done most of that research already, I guess. And I keep doing it. I like doing it. So they want to … Some people still want that shortcut, and that shortcut is finding a resource, right? And if they’re paying $99 … you know, when I do early registration, it’s 79. But it’s 100 bucks to get three weeks’ worth of content. It’s six hours of content. It’s still a pretty good deal.
So that’s the thing. People don’t want to … They don’t know who to trust. They don’t know who to go to.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. And I just want to highlight that point, and it’s not just in the technology space. You could be in the health and fitness space. You could be doing cooking.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: You could be doing cooking courses or weightlifting or train for your first marathon, or you could do language learning, all kinds of courses. Nothing frustrates a beginner like not having somebody who’s funny, who’s not too ethereal and not too advanced that they can’t relate, trying to teach them the material.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: So I just want to highlight that point and just acknowledge that, like, how powerful that is. And oftentimes, from an economic standpoint, the beginner’s market in a lot of niches is quite massive.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: So once you figure it out-
Adam Silver: And there’s plenty of space for other people to do the same thing. I mean, that’s why you have … The old joke is, you have gas stations on four corners.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Because people are going different directions. People are at different places in learning. So just because I have a show about podcasts … Dustin has a joke. So my show has been around for three years. Dustin’s like six on the podcasting aspect and the education and whatnot. There used to be three to four more. Those are gone. Seven more have replaced those now, so now, there’s a whole bunch of WordPress shows.
Okay. That’s great, because we all have different voices and different takes on things, right? Everything goes with learning, and something goes with styles and location of the content. Like, how are you implementing it? And just the experience of doing it. So my experience is this, and now I do this. And I’ve changed my opinion on X or Y. You know, I used to be a firm believer of a certain theme. I am no longer using that theme. I actually changed. I never saw the change coming and did not see it happening, but that company went under, kind of. So I changed with the times, and I’m honest about it.
That’s the thing, also. I am not out to say, “Take my class and learn how to make a million dollars using WordPress.” Nope, not in my [inaudible 00:43:31]. I’m here. Take my class, or join my meetup. Learn what you need when you need to know it, so it’s at time learning, and ask questions. And if I can help, great. I’m probably the least … I’m … How do I word it? I’m not the best at selling my own self, I guess. I don’t know. Does that make sense?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, the best selling is just a great experience.
Adam Silver: Right.
Chris Badgett: A great product.
Adam Silver: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: People who get results after taking your product.
Adam Silver: Right. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s the best sort of form of selling, so …
Adam Silver: Think of it that way, yeah.
Chris Badgett: Well, Adam, I want to thank you for coming on the show and honor you for all that you’ve done for the WordPress community.
Adam Silver: Sure.
Chris Badgett: And all the … and just all that you’re up to. And thank you for sharing your personal with us. If people-
Adam Silver: My pleasure.
Chris Badgett: If people want to find you, what are the best places to go again?
Adam Silver: Kitchensinkwp.com is one place, and that’s where I share the weekly podcast. And the other place, really, would be Twitter. I have a Kitchen Sink account there, as well, Kitchen Sink WP on Twitter, or Hey Adam Silver. I’m a big fan of Twitter. I’m on Facebook, but Twitter is easier to get a hold of me there, so …
Chris Badgett: Awesome.
Adam Silver: There you go.
Chris Badgett: Well, thank you for coming on the show.
Adam Silver: Thanks for having me.
Chris Badgett: And we’ll have to do one in another year or some and see how the teaching has evolved and do it again. So thank you.
Adam Silver: Sounds good. Thanks, Chris.