Blow Up Online with Facebook Ads Expert, Membership Site Owner, and Mastermind Creator Kamila Gornia

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about how to blow up online with Facebook ads expert, membership site owner, and mastermind creator Kamila Gornia. They get into some tactics for building your online community and Kamila shares her story of how she entered the online education field. She also shares expert tips on marketing with Facebook ads, and how you should incorporate them into your marketing strategy.

Kamila has built a strong brand online. She has many courses online, she owns a membership site, and she puts on mastermind programs to help other entrepreneurs who are looking to build an audience to gain authority or to grow that authority through lots of different methods.

Kamila focuses primarily on the marketing side of business online. But when she works on marketing with some clients they begin to ask questions about pricing and creating offers, so she has also taken on the role of a business coach in many of the projects she has worked on. She values the creative process and being able to support her clients in projecting income so they can impact the world with their creativity.

In order to utilize the full power of your creativity in business, you need to have the freedom in your space. Meaning that taking the focus off of making money may be necessary to be yourself when creating your product. This will ultimately increase your profits, because being genuine in your course presentation and material will help make your course feel more authentic. Kamila shares how she learned to channel her core values in order to make her course material genuine and engaging.

Many people in business say that you have to separate business from pleasure, or that in order to succeed in business you have to take the emotion out of it. But integrating the business mind and the artist mind can help to create entertaining and engaging content. Chris and Kamila discuss this concept in depth. Kamila’s focus on empowering the creative side in the entrepreneurs she works with and her authenticity are some of the key factors to her success with her online ventures.

A lot of first-time course creators online have difficulties creating and launching their online content, because they have doubts in their minds about weather or not they will succeed. Many of them also question their authority in the space, and don’t end up launching their course because someone in their industry already has a course. Kamila shares the five levels of online course creation and the points along the way where most people get stuck.

To learn more about Kamila Gornia check out KamilaGornia.com. You can also find her on Facebook.

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 in this episode we have a special guest, Kamila Gornia. How you doing, Kamila?
Kamila Gornia: I am great. Thanks for having me, Chris.
Chris Badgett: Kamila is a really interesting case study and somebody who’s built a strong brand online. She’s a course creator herself, trainer of people. She puts on masterminds and helps other entrepreneurs who are looking to build an audience to gain authority or if they already have that, to grow even further through lots of different methods. We’re going to get into some tactics, but also dig into Kamila’s story and just learn from her and really dig into her brand. She’s got a wonderful brand. Can you tell us just a little bit just kind of the short synopsis of who you are and what you do?
Kamila Gornia: Yeah. I’m Kamila Gornia. I’m known as the Blow Up, Scale Up marketing strategist, and I guess I’m also kind of a business coach, which is funny because I’ve always been more focused on the marketing side, but then my clients are like, “Kamila, but you’re also a business coach.” I’m like, “Okay,” so sure. What I tend to focus on is supporting amazing entrepreneurs who want to be seen as authorities and thought leaders to blow up online and really make a difference in the world through their marketing, so whether it’s launching new programs that are leverage-based like courses, masterminds, group programs or stepping out in a different way and then really making a difference with writing books or whatever.
I mean it’s really about getting the word out about what you’re passionate about and then making that difference with your message. That’s a little bit about what I do.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I think that’s an interesting point. Sometimes when we’re doing something our clients or our customers or our tribe ask us like, “While you’re here, can you also help me with this other thing?” What do you mean by you’re more in the marketing side when people ask you for business coaching advice? Help delineate the difference there.
Kamila Gornia: Yeah. For me I’ve always been a very strongly marketing minded person. I’ve been doing marketing since the age 12. It’s always been what I’ve led with. Now when I started working with clients, obviously we focus on the marketing side and then somehow we would start talking about pricing and creating offers. For me the biggest thing that I kind of realize is the fact that I just love to be creative when it comes to marketing. A lot of times creating offers actually is a very creative process and I really enjoy doing that. Another thing that really makes me excited is being able to support my clients in projecting income so that they can have the leverage and have the creativity to then impact the world.
In order to have that creativity in that space, you need to have the freedom and the space to do that. Now if you’re desperately trying to make money, you’re not going to be able to be in that mental space of having more creativity in your mind, right? Money is a big important aspect in like projecting income and like who you’re working with, how is that all structured on your business so that you can increase your profits and just get more people to … I mean just get more sales so that you can then create these other things that you want to be creating. It’s kind of come hand in hand and that’s a lot of what my clients actually ask me for is like how do I actually structure my entire business, what my business model is.
I look at it as the creative activity, creative kind of process that we go through. I guess it’s a business coaching thing because it has to do with pricing and offers and business structures and stuff, but because I look at it through the lens of marketing and through the lens of let’s impact the world, let’s change the world with whatever it is that you’re passionate about, I kind of look at it a little bit differently I guess.
Chris Badgett: I love that. One of my favorite words is just the word integration. To integrate the business mind and the artist mind, sometimes those things are seen as, “Oh, you can’t be both,” but really the true power comes from combining both. Like you said, a starving artist actually needs a little money and elbow room to be creative. They work hand in hand. I really like that point that you make about that. Well, I’d encourage everybody listening or if you’re watching this on YouTube to head on over to KamilaGornia.com. Because when I go there, I see a really strong brand, very clear messaging, somebody who’s not trying to be something they aren’t, somebody who’s just very comfortable in their own skin and helping other people do the same.
How did that authenticity or whatever you want to call it, how did that kind of evolve and become one of your strengths?
Kamila Gornia: That’s a really good question. It’s funny because I’ve always struggled with that even when I was younger. I’ve always wanted to be liked and I’ve always wanted to just be accepted. I’m an immigrant. I actually moved to America when I was 13. That was a big part of what supported me in not being myself because you need to assimilate and you need to make friends. In order to make friends in middle school, you have to be a very certain … Like you have to act a very certain way. You have to speak a very certain way. I worked really hard to get rid of my accent and I worked really hard to get rid of the things that I was interested in which where it could be considered a little dorky. I’m like, “Okay. Well, this is not going to support me in making friends.
This is not going to support me in like having a social life.” I decided to strategically create a persona of myself of a person that is more likely to be liked. I kind of got into not the best crowd I would say. I started partying pretty early. I did it because it didn’t necessarily feel right. I just wanted to be accepted. I did that for several years actually up until I was 21. When I was 21, I actually got in a car accident and it was on my 21st birthday which was crazy. I got in that car accident. I was sitting in the passenger seat. My friend was driving. We got hit by a drunk driver. It was after my night of partying. My head had hit the windshield.
I didn’t go to the ER, but the doctors or whoever those people are that come and tend to you when you’ve been in an accident they’re like, “Do you want to come to the ER? If you had something happen in your head because you hit your head, you could die.” I’m just like, “Oh my god. What is going on? I could die.” That was terrifying to me. I basically started kind of evaluating my life and seeing okay, well, there were certain things that were happening in my life that were making me question if I’m on the right path even prior to that moment. It all kind of culminated in that event where I really needed to start looking at my life and seeing why am I going about my life in this way. What am I giving up?
If I was to die right now, would I actually feel like I’ve lived the way that I am meant to live? The question was no, right? I didn’t feel like I had any deep relationships with people. I felt like I was always putting up walls and I felt like I was always showing up as somebody that is not actually me. All the time I felt a very deep dissatisfaction with who I actually was. I decided to take small steps to overcome that and break through that and really understand who I was. I started going into more personal development and started really digging into that. It might sound like it happened overnight. It definitely didn’t. It was several years in the making where I began to really see what is it that I enjoy and if I like this and nobody else does, what does that say about me?
Through really understanding and learning more about myself, I was able to realize that I do care about creativity and I do have very specific things about myself that I’m like goofy, but also I like that kind of edge and edgy style. It’s okay if it doesn’t all make sense. It’s okay if it’s not strategic in a way. It’s just who I am. Through that I was able to basically see like if somebody comes up to me and they are a hater and they say something negative to me, it actually ended up not affecting as much because I knew I was being myself versus when I was trying to have this mask on and be this person to be. The ultimate goal was to be liked by everybody.
When a hater would come around which happens quite often just in general in life and they would say something negative, that’s when it really affected me because it meant to me that my mask wasn’t perfect. That there was something that I strategically didn’t place in the right … It wasn’t organized in a way that it should have been because the goal was to be liked. When I flipped that and my goal became to just be myself, I became more resilient. I became more just happy and content with who I actually was. I wanted to create a business that supported me in being that authentic person and being that person who it is that I am.
I love working with people who are also looking to break through and be themselves and understand that even if you’re different, even if you have quirks about you, even if you’re weird or society deems you not normal, it’s okay because it’s all a part of your story and you shouldn’t have to reject a part of you just because it’s not easy to market or it’s not something that everybody’s going to like because it’s really difficult to be universally liked. It’s actually impossible to be universally liked. When we try, we’re setting ourselves up to fail. I’d rather just enjoy my life. That’s really what my business is founded upon I would say is being able to just live and just be yourself and do things in a way that feels good.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s really beautiful. It speaks to leadership in general and also teaching. In order to lead and teach, the first thing we have to do is lead ourselves. I mean clearly you’ve gone through an experience that then allows you to kind of give back, return and help other people who are trying to break through in a similar way that you were. That’s awesome. I love your story. That’s so cool. What was the transition point of going from your transformation to helping other people? You said it may seem like it’s overnight, but it’s not. Tell us a little bit more about the process of getting started online for you and what that was like.
Kamila Gornia: Well, getting started online happened when I was 12 and it wasn’t a very … I mean I guess it was pretty authentic because it was a website that I built and it was about Manga. This was back when I really liked it and there was no one in my town that liked it. It wasn’t a business venture. It was just kind of like a hobby thing, but for me … Then I had a photography business where most of my clients I got through the online and then I had a health blog and stuff. I think because I had so many things that I’ve done, when I finally became more intentional about creating a business … Because you know there are things I mean I consider them ventures.
I guess they were businesses because they were profitable, but I didn’t necessarily set out to like, “Oh, I’m going to now create a photography business. Oh, now my blog is going to become …” That’s not really what I intended it to be, but I feel like because I had these ventures, when I actually did become intentional about creating a marketing business, coaching kind of business, I had this background already that allowed me to know kind of which way to go about it, what to do, what not to do and that kind of stuff. I think for me the biggest thing was in the beginning especially with photography and even with my health blog, it was more about myself and it was more about discovering what I like.
It was a lot of that discovery that allowed me to find that there’s other people that are also doing very similar things. As I was moving into creating a more intentional business, I was actually a little bit confused about what is it that I wanted to create. I’m a multi passionate person. I love so many different things which is why I had all these different ventures. It’s unrealistic for me to have a business that incorporates all the things. Potentially my marketing business is selfish because I just am so interested in so many different things that I want to do them all, but I can’t. Same with the marketing, there’s so many campaigns, there’s so many things that I want to test that I realistically can’t do on my own in my own business.
I love being able to support other people who also are very passionate about what they’re doing. They see that mission. They see the thing that they want to change and I get inspired by passion. I get so fueled by other people who are passionate. They have something that they want to change in the world in some kind of a … It just make sense. When there’s that spark, that’s what lights me up. For me I’m able to then experiment and use my multi passionate tendencies towards my clients. I’m interested in health. I’m interested with relationships. I’m interested in like all these things. Well, that’s my clients. I’m able to basically use my interest and get them out there because I wouldn’t be able to do it.
I really see a vision for a world that is filled with love and creativity and passion and just really incredible things that everybody is doing. I would love a world that’s like that. This is my way of making sure that that happens. My work goes through these clients, these people so they can do the amazing work that they’re doing and I can support them because marketing has always been like I guess a superpower just because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’m leveraging that to support other people who are amazing in their kind of industries.
Chris Badgett: I think that’s really admirable. One of the things that I hear in there is it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. What I mean by that is if you give and you do consulting or coaching or teaching and at the end of the day you’re like, “Oh, I’m whooped. I have nothing left else to give,” which is fine if that happens, but what you’re also saying is that by helping these people, you get to explore and play in all these different areas in all your multi passionate ways that you’re also getting something out it which creates … That’s more like an infinite loop. They can just keep going and growing and expanding. That’s really well said. Where did the words blow up and scale up come from?
If you guys go to Kamila’s website, you’ll see just some really well written words around what she’s up, what the manifesto is. There’s a strong brand. It doesn’t feel like blah. It’s like, “Okay. This is Kamila.” Where does that come from, blow up and scale up?
Kamila Gornia: It’s funny because this was I think a year and a half ago. I was working with my copywriter and we were doing this whole rebrand thing. Maybe it was two years ago. I don’t remember exactly. In the copywriting process, she basically was asking me a whole lot of questions. The thing that I kept saying is, “Okay. What am I passionate about? Well, I want these incredible people, these incredible authorities, these course creators, these people to be able to blow up so that everybody knows who they are and then therefore they’re able to change the world.” People that create courses and membership sites and all these different things, they’re doing it because they want to teach people, they want to impact these people in a very specific way.
If they’re doing it and nobody knows who they are, they’re not really doing anybody any favors, right? It’s like how can you keep that brilliance to yourself. It’s selfish to do that. I want these people to be known. I want them to be known in a huge way so that everybody knows and has resources to support themselves in whatever it is that they need support with. I want them to blow up. Huge like explosive. I guess I like using masculine words. I don’t know. Like boom. Then the scale up, I kept mentioning that word to her. The other thing I was like, “Okay. Well, I really also like it to not be pure hustle. I also like it to have some leverage. You’re doing it in a way that it supports your lifestyle too and that you’re enjoying yourself.
A lot of it has to do with like scaling your business because the people that I also love working with are people that have already done this and now they’re looking for scale. They’re looking for leverage. They’re looking to bring in more customers without having to spend and extend more energy to necessarily do that. It’s kind of creating these systems to make it work like funnels and launching, automated launching and stuff.” I kept saying to scale up, like scaling and scaling. Blow up and scale up is basically like the gist of the thing that I tend to focus on with my clients. From that when I was thinking about these two words, I’m like, “Okay. This make sense. This is really interesting.”
Then I realized that I actually have a very specific methodology that I use when it comes to entrepreneurship. Everybody is in a very specific stage as they’re going through their business. It’s my blow up, scale up method which has like five very specific levels. There’s the set up. There’s the think up, set up, blow up, scale up and then free up. There’s five levels if you will for a business owner or a business to go through. It’s been really cool because while I fueled it, she was able to capture that and see like, “Kamila, you keep saying these words. What does that exactly mean?” Then that became a whole thing, like a huge part of my brand as well. It was a really cool experience.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, how did you get to that point where you decided you wanted a copywriter or needed a copywriter? Where did that come from?
Kamila Gornia: A copywriter was actually my first hire because I … When I was starting this business, I knew that obviously you need to make sure your copy is solid and all that good stuff. I didn’t really consider myself to be a very good copywriter. I’m okay with writing. I don’t love it necessarily, but whatever. When I was creating my website for this business, there was a lot of resources. I took a course on writing copy as many people have. I was going through this process to write my copy. I mean the copy that I wrote was great. Everybody would share how incredible it was and how much it resonated for them, but it took me so long to actually finish it. I’m a person that … I like things to be like, “All right. Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go.”
For me to sit there for like two weeks to write my website copy was just like I just wanted to like die. It was not fun. After I did that, every future sales page, website, I mean just the energy expenditure was not worth it. The first person I hired was a copywriter. It was project-based of course. She wrote my sales page. Then when we’re doing a rebrand, she redid my entire website copy. It was so much better because even though I can …
I know a lot of like about technology and all that good stuff and that doesn’t take me as long as writing, but I feel like because I was able to work with a copywriter and she was able to capture what I said in like the exact words I was using just making them sound a little bit more sexy and the flow was already proven, for me just to learn these proven systems it would take too long. The cool thing is because I’m so integrated and I’m so into marketing, even though she was doing these things, I was able to capture what she does. It in turn turned me into a much better copywriter now. There’s some sales pages that I will write myself. It depends on my time, like how much time I have. All my emails I wrote myself.
All my social media posts I wrote myself. For me it was just like a part of the learning I would say and really making sure that do I really want to spend two, three weeks on writing a sales page when I could focus that time on something else. The question was I’d rather just hire it out.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. When you look at other entrepreneurs or just imagine a course creator who’s trying to make it online or somebody building their first membership site, in your experience what’s getting in the way or what’s holding people back in general or at one of the specific five levels? What do you see as the biggest kind of hurdle to get over for a lot of people?
Kamila Gornia: Well, I think it really depends on the person because a lot of people are stuck in the thinking stage where they’re still like, “Okay. Well, it has to be perfect. What is it going to be?” Most people actually stay stuck in that think up stage. They’re just there because they’re not great at taking action. Until you actually commit yourself to taking consistent action, you’re never going to get out of that space. For most of my clients and for myself too, it took a couple of courses before I was actually able to have a solid one and be like, “Okay. I’m actually really happy with this. The launch is going to be great and stuff.” It wasn’t perfect the first time around. It wasn’t perfect the first couple of times.
I feel like a lot of people are trying to make it perfect the first time around. Then because of that, they’re never happy and then they don’t want to put it out there in the world. Where in fact, I mean the reason why people are taking courses it’s to have a transformation of some kind to learn something. It’s not to have beautiful design and looking at the beautiful slides. That’s not why people are doing it. I recently launched a new program and one of the students was like, “Kamila, how did you do this? What did you use for these slides and what did you use for this and the set up?” I’m like, “Why are you asking me these things? You need to actually create something first and get people through it. This is like my, I don’t know, 20th course.
It wasn’t the first thing that looked like this. The first thing was like random PowerPoint slides. There wasn’t anything fancy about it.” I feel like a lot of people are kind of stuck on that because they sign up for these amazing beautiful courses where people have huge budgets and they use that as the benchmark for excellence when that’s not really the case. That’s one of the big ones. I think another one too is a lot of people struggle with feeling like they’re a fraud because, “Well, there’s so many people that are doing what I’m doing or like what I want to do. What do I really have to say about that? Who am I to even like want to teach people about this? It’s been done before. What if they find out that I actually don’t know what I’m talking about?
What if they find out that I’m not whatever?” A lot of these kind of limiting thoughts and beliefs that come up about worthiness are very, very common and feeling like, “I’m not really an expert enough. I’ve only been doing it for a couple of years or like a year or whatever,” where in fact, you’re probably going to be teaching the people that have zero experience. Yes, you know a lot more and you can therefore teach people. Also, through teaching you’re going to be able to really zone in on how … Like what your theories are and opinions and like your framework. Because in the beginning, you’re going to have to go through a process that you use, but then things are going to get even more specific. Again it’s rooted and taking committed action.
A lot of people tend to be stuck in that kind of space. I think the last one too, I think the last one is just not knowing how to grow and having a bigger picture for it. They think that, “Okay. Well, this sounds cool. Maybe I’ll do that,” but then because there’s a lack of that vision for how exactly is that fitting into the bigger picture, the strategy, they tend to kind of hold themselves back or they do it and then they don’t do it in the way that is supporting their clients because they think that, “Okay. Well, I’m going to be promoting something that I know they need,” where people actually are not going to sign up for something that you think they need. They’re going to buy something that they want and they consciously know that they want.
It’s kind of a different approach to that as well. I feel like these are probably the most common ones.
Chris Badgett: That’s very cool. Very cool. I kind of want to tap into some of your expertise for the listener and get some tactical tips and just learn from you. One of your specialties is Facebook ads. If somebody is like approaching that scale up phase, there’s like … You have an eBook I believe on your site about this that I encourage people to download. I just downloaded it. I just started reading it, but you talk about the three key things that people need. Can you tell us a little bit about that if somebody’s going to go to Facebook ads? Because I think a lot of people try it and if it doesn’t make any money or it’s cash flow negative, they try it for $100. They’re scared to spend $1,000 on it.
What do you tell the people who are trying to scale in Facebook ads? Let’s bring some sanity to the conversation.
Kamila Gornia: The biggest thing that I see people kind of struggling with Facebook ads is … Well, the biggest thing is they don’t have the strategy. There’s been people that come to me and they want my support on that Facebook ads front. They’re like, “Kamila, I’m going to do Facebook ads. My business is going to just blow up.” I’m like, “Great. What is your strategy?” They’re like, “Well, Facebook ads are my strategy.” Like, “No. Facebook ads are not the strategy. Facebook ads are like the traffic. Facebook ads are the tactic to get the people, but where are we sending them? Then what happens? Then what happens?” A lot of people don’t realize that Facebook ads are not the strategy.
Facebook ads are amazing and they will support you in getting the perfect people towards what it is that you have, but if your funnel is not set up properly, if there’s no funnel, of course you’re not going to get sales. I mean why would you get sales if you’re not selling anything at the end of that funnel? I would say that’s probably the biggest thing from people that I at least encounter a lot is just that lack of strategy, lack of that bigger picture of how are Facebook ads actually playing a part in this entire process. The other thing is a lot of people are a little bit uncertain about how much to spend and what to expect from that. Because again we like to compare ourselves to everything else. We’ll see somebody posting that they’re getting like 12 cent leads and they’re like, “Okay.
That’s my benchmark. 12 cent leads,” where in fact that’s not normal. That’s incredible result, but that’s not what happens for most campaigns. That’s not to say our clients haven’t gotten that. Pretty much every client has gotten really, really inexpensive leads at one point or another, but that’s not what we aim for because it’s not average. When we break it down just to simple math like, “Okay. You’re launching a course. How many people do you need to get on the webinar if you want to get X amount of sales? Okay.
If we need to get these many people on the webinar and we’re expecting to pay anywhere from $4 let’s say average per lead, then you need to spend this much amount of money to bring this amount of sales,” if everything works in that example that we kind of layout which doesn’t always work that way of course. People are like, “Man, I spent $100. I spent $200. I didn’t get any sales.” I’m like, “Of course, you didn’t get any sales because nobody saw the pitch.” It doesn’t make any sense. It’s actually not that hard to just really understand what you need to invest. You do need to invest a good portion to really see what you need.
Now that’s not to say that you can’t spend just $5 per day for a little while and like get people onto your list and have a really simple funnel with like a low cost offer or something. You can totally do that and you can maybe even break even if you’re lucky. That’s awesome and that happens for many people. Again it’s having patience and it’s being able to test and knowing that unless you’re open to losing the money you’re putting into Facebook ads, you’re presenting yourself up to not be very happy with how it’s going to work. Facebook ads change all the time. That’s probably the biggest thing.
Even within ad sets and audiences, that changes all the time too because competition and how many people are running ads to these audiences and just how much text you have on an image and just relevancy. That’s all going to affect how much Facebook is going to be sharing your ads in front of people. How much of your spending even per click is going to differ. Per lead, of course, it’s going to differ even more. Unless you’re willing to just come into it with an experimentation mindset and learning and coming into it as you can’t really fail because even if I get no leads, at least I’m going to know why people don’t really like this thing, it’s going to be not a very fun ride for you. I think that’s one of the big ones as well.
I think lastly too, a lot of people when they’re scaling ads they go from paying at like $10 per day per audience or per ad set and then they go to like a hundred immediately. They’re like, “Oh, I have all this budget. I’m ready. This is working. Let’s do it.” That’s not what I recommend either because what happens with Facebook, that’s a little bit interesting and we had one of our clients that was kind of facing this recently where she was in positive ROI when the budget was at like … I think it was like a hundred per day. Then we scaled it up slowly and then eventually the ROI started to break even and then it was a negative ROI. When we were spending less money, it was a positive ROI. The best thing you can do when you’re scaling is being …
When you’re moving into the scale part, being very aware of what’s going on with your ads and keeping a really hawk-eye on the ROI, how much you’re earning if it makes sense. Because just because you have more money to spend, doesn’t mean that your ads are going to be also performing in that same level. Facebook it’s really … I mean it’s a whole different beast. You just can’t guess what’s going to happen even if it theoretically should be working the way that you think it should be working. Scaling slowly. Adding just a couple of extra dollars per day and then keeping that really focus attention, laser attention, on performance is definitely going to take you far.
Chris Badgett: That’s great. Well, I really appreciate that and thanks for all that insight into Facebook ads and paying for traffic, making sure you know your economics and what are you pointing them to, what is the sales funnel. Not just pointing them to the homepage of whatever. In terms of like the offer itself, if we go through that to the offer and what we’re offering, one of the things I notice about you is you have like all these different things. You have a membership site. You have a mastermind. Can you tell us kind of what your product suite is and where you’ve been at that?
Kamila Gornia: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. This is probably one of my faults because I am creative and I love creating offers. I have a ton of offers and I create new things all the time that are a little bit more standalone and they’re more like spontaneous if you will. I’m not going to mention my low cost things because there’s a ton of those and they’re all moving into something else. Everything I create is very strategically created. It’s not like a random thing because somebody wants it and I’m creating it and it doesn’t follow into something else. There’s always a flow.
The bread and butter for me is my mastermind which is a high ticket, it’s 10 months now, 10 month program for entrepreneurs that are like around or at or pass six figures and they’re looking really to get to multiple six figures with leverage offers, sales funnels, paid traffic, launching, courses and programs and things like that. That’s my main thing. That’s the thing that eventually I want everybody to go into because that’s what’s making most of my money. Now the things that are before that, I have my authority launcher program which is like kind of self-study, but not. It’s kind of group self-study. It’s a very differently structured program than like anything that’s out there right now.
It’s about setting up your marketing to position you as an authority basically online. Really amazing program. I love this program. Again everything kind of goes into that because that’s where I want people to go. Then they’re ready for the mastermind. That’s kind of the flow from there. These are like the two main ones, the flagship ones, that I would say. I also have my Telesummit course, the Business Famous Telesummit Formula. This is kind of a standalone course, but again when people take that, they’re much more likely to be a good fit for the mastermind so it make sense that they would be taking that. I have a Facebook ads course as well, Rapid Growth Facebook Ads System. Again people that take that might be a good fit for the mastermind because we talk about Facebook ads.
I have a whole bunch of other things. Is there anything else that is like a standalone passive-ish … No, I think these are the main ones. I have my membership site. My membership site at the time of this recording it’s called The Society, the #WebOnlineMarketingSociety. I’m actually going to be rebranding that The Vault. It’s going to be Marketing Vault. Because I create so much content, it’s basically where all my trainings, my smaller content things that I create that people are going to have access to, like a vault of just marketing trainings and things like that. That’s another thing that I have and these are really the main things that I move people into.
Then all the smaller things, even the higher ticket things like workshops and stuff that I do, I mean they obviously make sense to move into something else at the backend of that, but I need to have that space for my creativity to flourish to. If everything was planned out and that’s all I was selling all year without giving myself space to like, “Oh well, what about this,” I would just not be happy. It’s allowing me to fuel that creative side of me, but also having that steady secure projecting kind of income base for my business to really be solid as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That was a five minute masterclass on funnel design right there while still being true to your artistic, creative needs. That’s awesome. Well, let’s speak to the already successful online course or membership site. They’ve got a training vault if you will. I recently saw that you did a 185K launch on your mastermind I believe.
Kamila Gornia: Yup. A year ago.
Chris Badgett: If somebody’s like, “Okay. I did it. I have a successful membership site. I have a successful online course. I want to try this mastermind thing,” can you share your experience and what you learned? What works great? Where does most of the value come from? What are some pitfalls to potentially avoid? How big or small should it be? Should it be live? Should it be online? Should it be both? Take us to school.
Kamila Gornia: Before I talk about that, I want to just differentiate between a mastermind and a group program because a lot of people that create masterminds are actually creating group programs. I see a group program as something where everybody starts in a similar place and they’re all ending in a similar place as well. You’re taking them through a curriculum where you’re teaching people very specific things and they’re all going through together. You have live group calls, online calls and supporting them in that way. Most people are actually … Especially course creators, that’s the next step for them versus starting a mastermind because it’s easier. It’s easier flow, easier organization and that kind of stuff.
I have that. I’ve had for a little while too. A mastermind is more so where you bring people and there are kind of different levels. They might want to focus on different things, but there’s an overall theme that’s similar. People all start in different places. People are ending in different places because everyone’s kind of focusing on their own path and then everyone’s coming together and supporting each other to really step up in that high level. My mastermind, I did it. It was the first launch for my mastermind a year ago. 187 I think it was thousand. It was the first mastermind I’ve ever done, so definitely a lot of things that I learned through the process. The one that I’m launching now is quite a bit different.
That one was 12 months. It was a lower ticket. Most masterminds are about like anywhere from 20,000 up to like … I mean I know some people that do $100,000 masterminds.
Chris Badgett: Those are like for the course of a year, six months or what?
Kamila Gornia: A year. Yeah. The reason why I created this too from a business perspective is because I wanted to have that projection. I wanted to know that I’m solid for a year. I know how much I’m earning and I’m good. Then everything else I’m doing, I can kind of breath. From the business perspective, that’s why, but then also I knew about myself that I love working on like more bigger things, the launching, the funnels and all that kind of stuff and being able to support people in that kind of way. Also, I like teaching, but I don’t love teaching how to’s. I prefer to do it once and then people have it and then they can get to it versus me iterating it over and over and over again.
With a mastermind, I’m able to support people on a high level strategy just like how do we grow, how do we leverage, how do we get to the next level which is something that I excel at and I love doing. Everything else that was how to I have prerecorded and people can have access to that and stuff like that in like the group formats and stuff. With this I wanted to stay at that high level strategy. Lets freaking rock this. It’s going to be awesome. I did kind of a blend for this one. We also included two in person retreats as well for this because I wanted to have that in person intensive kind of feel. The reason why it was a little bit of a blend is because I included one-on-one calls with me once a month for these people.
Then plus, we had a training call every month and then we had like two additional group calls so people could support each other. What I learned for sure is because I combined two things, I combined the group program with a mastermind, it was a little bit confusing for people or at least that’s kind of the impression I got. I mean people got incredible results. Tons of people quit their jobs. They retired their spouse and they just like, “I really blew it out the water.” Because I wasn’t as specific about who I wanted to attract for this, I mean I was, but then I was kind of more like, “Okay. It’s my first one. It’s okay if you’re not quite there. Let’s just bring you in so that we have people.”
Because I was a little bit more lenient, I wasn’t able to actually support people on that high level that I wanted. Some people were still in that … They should actually been in a different program versus this. That was kind of something that I definitely learned and I understood. We had two different levels as well. Again that’s the impression that I got is some people were confused about it because some people got specific features. Others didn’t get those extra features and it was just like confusing on communication of that. Like, “Oh, we have a group call, but it’s only for these people and not those other people.” It was just like, “Oh, what’s going on?” I was confusing myself. For this one that I’m launching right now, one level.
Very straightforward. Very simply. They know they want to blow up in that way with the scaling. We’re not talking about like, “Here’s how to get one-on-one clients. Here’s how to do all that stuff,” which is a big part of what we talked about in the first mastermind. I know how to get clients. I’ve supported my clients to like get tons of clients, but it’s not what I’m most excited about teaching. I’m more excited about again that more leverage-based model. I’m making it very clear. Now I’m like, “Great. If you want support, I will help you, but know that we’re going to be focused on this. You are a good fit if you want to have huge courses and memberships sites and group programs that do events and that kind of stuff so that you can be seen as an authority.
You know that you’re going to have to run ads to make it happen. You know that you’re going to need to hire a team to make it happen.” It’s just more specific from that perspective. I do find that for mastermind I personally find that it’s better when it’s smaller. My previous mastermind was about 18 people. I like that number because not everybody shows up to calls anyways. If you want 12 people to show up for calls or retreats, then 18 people might be a good fit for you in terms of like who you want to bring in. Group programs, you can really make it much bigger.
It’s really going to depend on how you’re going to structure your group calls if it’s going to be laser coaching, if it’s going to be hot seats where people have more time for themselves to get support, if it’s going to be just training. If it’s going to be just training and just straight Q and A, you can have a lot of people. One of my colleagues who was a mastermind coach, she has like 90 people in her mastermind. It’s a ton of people, but because of the structure that she has for it, it kind of made sense a little bit more. It’s really kind of brainstorming on how do you want to support people and always starting with yourself too. A lot of people say like start with the clients.
Honestly, I want to have business that I’m excited about because if I’m starting with the clients and only thinking about the clients, then I’m going to create a business that I’m not excited about just because someone else is telling me to do that. I start with myself, how do I want to support people and then looking at what do they need and then finding a happy medium between the two.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that experience. I want to ask you something about working with your tribe. Sometimes you have these free opt-ins, maybe some free exchange on Facebook, Facebook group, social media, wherever. You might have some lower priced things. Then there’s like the membership and then there’s just like high ticket mastermind thing. Besides obviously like having a budget for the mastermind, what makes …
If somebody has like a nice size audience and membership site and they’re thinking about getting into it and maybe they’re scared that like, “I don’t know if anybody would actually go for my big mastermind thing,” what would you say to that person and how do you identify the people? What makes people different that are really ready for that, that appreciate that?
Kamila Gornia: Well, I would make sure that the offers, the low ticket offers, you’re creating are setting people up to be ready for that big mastermind. I have a lot of stuff about Facebook ads. People that are interested in Facebook ads have the money to spend on Facebook ads likely which means they might be more open to mastermind kind of stuff. Not always, but very frequently. There’s people that focus on very, very beginner stuff like how to set up, I don’t know, something really basic. Then on the backend they have this big mastermind that’s about like high level stuff and there’s the disconnect because well, of course people that are newer they’re going to want to know how to do these DIY stuff. They’re not going to want to spend money on it.
Of course, most people are not going to be ready for that mastermind, but it’s really setting up and framing everything in a way that is supporting you in that growth and then using very specific words that are attracting those right kind of people. Even when you talk, even in your emails, it’s just mentioning that big program, mentioning that this is how you work with people, mentioning this is what your vision is for people and how you like to support people and then the right people are going to stick around. If the first mastermind has to be like four, five people or six people, that’s okay too because those can be very, very effective as well. It’s not even stressing out too much about like are people going to want it or not.
If you’re setting everything, if you’re setting these kind of breadcrumbs for people to take and they’re all going to be ending up at that place, you should be fine. If you only have like 50 people on your email list, I mean it’s going to be a little bit tough that’s for sure. Maybe you’re going to have to lower the price for the first one like mine was much lower in price for the first one because it was my first one. It’s really like looking at what can you do to make it a success for yourself. If it means not doing the recommended thing that everyone’s saying to do, that’s okay because it’s supporting you in your own personal growth in your business.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, Kamila Gornia, ladies and gentlemen. I want you to thank you for coming on the show and honor you. I feel like you came on here and you just gave and gave and gave so much knowledge and insights. I’d encourage people to go to KamilaGornia.com and there’ll be a link in the show notes and all that stuff and check out what she’s up to over there. Just thank you for coming on the show and thank you so much for sharing so much great experience with the listener.
Kamila Gornia: Yeah, of course. Thank you so much for having me, Chris. It was a lot of fun and I’m excited to support. If anyone has any follow up questions, I’m happy to support.
Chris Badgett: Is there anywhere people can connect with you besides your website?
Kamila Gornia: You can find me on my Facebook business page, too. You can message us on there. Yeah, we can talk.
Chris Badgett: All right. Well, thanks again for coming on the show.
Kamila Gornia: Thank you.


Spiritual Entrepreneurship and Helping Course Creators Thrive with Simplero CEO Calvin Correli

We discuss spiritual entrepreneurship and helping course creators thrive with Simplero CEO Calvin Correli in this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Calvin shares his story and some of his ways of approaching life and business from a spiritual perspective. He talks about how to integrate spirituality into entrepreneurship and to inform decision making in business.

Calvin grew up in Denmark, and he has always been around computers and software. Both of his parents were early on the computer bandwagon. His mother started a software company in 1980 and grew that to 50 people. Calvin was working as an entrepreneur, and he was struggling. So he worked with a spiritual teacher, and that led him towards the realization that the tools he had could be useful to the entrepreneurs he saw struggling in business. This led him to the online course world in 2008, and eventually he created Simplero.

The focus of Simplero is to make running a business online exponentially simpler with an all in one platform for delivering your courses and online content. Simplero is your consultant for everything from marketing to sales statistics. They provide you with a website, affiliate tracking, email marketing advice, and so much more.

Calvin has formed most of his business model around serving the customer and making the product efficient and easy to use for them. He shares the struggles he has faced with doing that. Achieving a balance is what is necessary to create harmony and create an efficient system and product for both you and your customer. We all get caught up in our ego and our feelings unintentionally, and this causes us to feel stress and feel badly about ourselves at times.

Chris and Calvin dive into the psychology behind decision making in business. Calvin recounts his experiences with understanding the difference between his spiritual side and his analytical, left-brain side. He shares how he incorporates both into the way he runs his business, and how his product serves his customers.

Serving your customers to the best of your ability is what makes you successful in business. Calvin has kept this close to his heart when creating his business model. He often tries to put himself in the customer’s shoes when developing new tools for Simplero. Having the most interactive features and the most customizability is not always what makes for a good customer experience. Sometimes choosing ease of use can yield better results for your business.

Chris and Calvin discuss how not forcing things in business can also be good for healthy growth. Calvin shares his encounters with business partners and employees where he did not try to force any result, and ultimately it turned out favorably for his business composition and all of the people involved.

To learn more about Calvin Correli check out CalvinCorreli.com. He has everything from a blog, podcast, and music there. You can sign up for his email list and respond to one of the emails to contact him personally. Also check out Simplero.com to figure out if an all-in-one software business platform is for you.

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 LMS Cast. My name is Chris Badgett and today we have a special guest, Calvin Correli from Simplero. How you doing Calvin?
Calvin Correli: I’m doing fantastic. Hi Chris, it’s great to be here in your company.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, Calvin has something similar to what we have at LifterLMS. It’s a platform-
Calvin Correli: Oh my God, are we competitors?
Chris Badgett: We are.
Calvin Correli: Oh God, that means I hate you now.
Chris Badgett: We’re gonna talk about why it’s cool and why we’re okay with that. Simplero is a all in one platform for delivering your courses, your online content. It’s a complete marketing solution as well. We’ll get into that in a little bit, but first we’re gonna get into Calvin’s story and some of his ways of approaching life and business and dig into that. Talk about some lessons learned and have some conversations that might benefit you as a online course creator, a membership site owner or someone needing to do digital marketing.
Calvin, welcome to the show. Tell the listener out there a little bit about who you are, where you came from and what makes you tick as a human being.
Calvin Correli: I grew up in Denmark and I grew up with computers and software. My mom started a software company in 1980 and grew that to 50 people. Both my parents were pretty early on to the computer bandwagon, it’s not like super early. I loved that. I was working as an entrepreneur for myself for many years with software and it was always a struggle. That led me to coaching and working with a spiritual teacher, and that led me to realizing that these tools that I had learned would be super useful for other entrepreneurs that I saw who were also struggling.
That led me to start to do online courses back in 2008, which led me to create Simplero. That kind of took over and became a business of it’s on and that’s been my focus for the past several years. What I realized about myself at one point is that I’m really about being of service to people. Just knowing that I’m serving people better than they’ve ever been served before, that makes me super high and excited.
I also realized that I have these kind of two sides to me, which was like the spiritual side where I feel in contact with something deeper and connected with trying to figure out what’s really going on inside of people and connect that at that level, through the heart if you will. Then there’s the other side of me that was very left brained, very business and programming and numbers and all that stuff.
About 10 years ago, I realized that I had completely suppressed the spiritual side, and I definitely very much suffered at these two sides of my being and I decided that this is … I realized that that’s what I’m about. I feel like that’s my purpose here, is to really combine these two sides, so being spiritual, but not in a way that doesn’t compromise my business brain. It just informs that part of me and we make it work very beautifully together.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Let’s dig into that. One of my favorite words is integration. How do you integrate spirituality and entrepreneurship? Has there been some struggles in that, or once you just accepted that they’re gonna play in the same sandbox it’s just the way you role. How does it play out for you?
Calvin Correli: I would say yes to both if I can. I think anyone who’s on a spiritual journey that it’s not a one time thing. It’s just like meditation. The way meditation basically works is, you come back to the breath and to that feeling of presence or … One way I like to describe it, it’s like allowing everything to be as it is. Letting go of all resistance to anything being the way it is. Then you get caught up in some thought somewhere. You get down and then all you need to do is just bring the focus and the awareness back on the breath and get back to that place of allowing everything to be as it is.
That’s what life is like. That’s what meditation is like. That’s what every day of my life is like. I’m like, “Oh my God, I just realize di got lost in thought,” like, “Breath, come back.” Even when I’m working, even when I’m talking to someone. It’s the same. You will get lost in thought. You will get caught up in ego stuff and get triggered by all things and then it’s like … Might take you for a ride that actually lasts a few months or if might just last a few moments depending on what’s going on, so yes, it has been a struggle in that way.
On the other hand, it’s also been pretty easy. After that moment of me realizing that, everything started to click together because before that, everything I’d done had been about proving myself or becoming successful, making money. I felt like I always had to accomplish something or become something in order to feel that I was worthy or I was good enough. Once I realized, well, that pattern must still be there, but what I really want to create is to create the products that I would love to use. To create the business that I would love to work in and be a customer of. To create the products that I would really love to see, versus like, “Let me try to make something that’s gonna make money.”
Let me figure out what is gonna make money doesn’t interest me a whole lot because what’s the point of making money if it doesn’t allow me to do something that I want to do? Then there’s like, “Go to work and make the money so you can go on vacation.” That was never appealing to me. I love creating things, so I just want the money to enable me to create the things that I want to create because I enjoy creating stuff.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Let’s talk a little bit about how the spiritual piece can inform decisions in entrepreneurship or even just knowing yourself and knowing your values inform entrepreneurship. One example I would just throw out there is, you mentioned in the beginning of the show that we’re in fact in some ways competitors, but for me, the spiritual person in me, the values in me, I really care about course creators and these creative education entrepreneurs. As long as whatever we’re doing is in service to them, that’s really my highest and best use. I heard you were a great guy to talk to, so why would I not do that because we may be competitors?
That’s one way for me. What about you? How does that spiritual nature inform business in a unique way perhaps? Or a counterintuitive way?
Calvin Correli: Well, on many levels. This is definitely one of them. I want to support people who are creating things, wherever they’re creating things. You’re creating your work and your piece of art, your product and that’s amazing. More power to you. I think there are several levels. Apart from what I just talked about, there’s also for me that as a founder, as the entrepreneur, there’s that part where whenever I’m faced with some kind of challenge, I will tend to address it at multiple levels. I like to think of it as body, mind and spirit.
At the body level if you will, there is like, “What are the concrete action steps that I can take that are gonna make a difference here?” An example could be hiring. Finding really good talent to hire and to work with was a struggle for me for quite a while until the last year basically. Beginning of last year that really transformed. The action level is like, “Let’s write an ad,” or, “Let’s run some kind of recruiting,” or like, “What are we gonna do for this?”
The mind level would be like, “What kind of beliefs and thoughts do I have around this topic?” One of the things that was challenging me was, “I don’t feel like I’m worthy of working with [good 00:08:58] people,” or I’m like, “Who would want to work with me?” That kind of thing. That’s good to look at.
The level of spirit would be just like dropping the words and going even deeper into like, if I had put myself … For example, one of the things I love to do is imagining myself being where I would want to be with this. Working with amazing people and having this great chemistry and all that, which is exactly what I have now, which is amazing. Then just notice what happens inside of my body. Where is my body getting contracted and what does it feel like that may be connected to or familiar to? Just sitting with that, eyes closed and just exploring and loving everything that comes up in that process. I call that the spiritual level.
I also work with a healer in visualization and these things. I just find that once I start to look at a problem at all those three levels, that’s when it really starts to move. It really has.
Chris Badgett: Could you give a little more detail on how that started to move for you the way you said, I think a year ago, in terms of the hiring struggle? What got better?
Calvin Correli: What got better is the most beautiful thing because I was in this, not exactly custody battle, but I was in a battle with my ex wife over … She lives in Copenhagen with my kids. She decided suddenly at the end of the before that it would be best for our kids if they didn’t see their dad at all. Funny enough I disagreed. I ended up having to go through the legal system and they basically sided with me, so now I’m seeing them, which is amazing.
What I also did was, I had to fly to Copenhagen to got to a meeting there and on that trip, I happen to meet this young programmer and we just hit it off chemistry-wise. After I got home, I emailed him. I was like, “Hey, would you be interested in doing some contract work for me?” He was like, “Sure, why not. That could be fun.” We had like five hours a week. We did that for a while and it was like, “Dude, I want to have you full time.” A few months later, that just worked out.
What’s so beautiful about it is that I did all of this work and then the right person just showed up. It was as a response to a job ad. It wasn’t anything. It was-
Chris Badgett: You weren’t forcing it.
Calvin Correli: He just showed up and it was the exact right time. That relationship then transformed me because this guy is super smart. That showed me how important that is and how much it is to work together with someone who’s super smart. That led me to realize that another team member wasn’t working, not because she’s not smart, but because it wasn’t the right fit for her, and then on and on and then it was just a completely new time. Everybody just kind of … It just kind of happened.
We needed someone else to do customer service and I was like, “let’s ask in our community and see if there might be someone.” I hired someone [inaudible 00:12:19] as an assistant to help out with that. She was like, “I believe in this one,” and then we hired her and it was perfect. She’s still with us. It’s amazing.
Chris Badgett: That’s a great story. I think the concept of trying to force things, especially if you’re a startup, you gotta be scrapping. You’re executing all of these processes that you’ve read about, heard about, done before. Part of the spiritual approach is like letting go or let it be or be here now or whatever. It’s almost more effortless.
Calvin Correli: I love that Buddha saying, it’s like, “Not too tight, not too loose,” like how you tune a sitar. Supposedly the Buddha said … This sitar player asked him about how to meditate and how to, whatever his thoughts or something, and the Buddha answered, “Not too tight, not too loose. It’s like you do with the sitar” I think that’s the thing, you don’t want to be just like [inaudible 00:13:12], but you don’t want to hold on.
For me, it’s very much about holding on to that vision, and just showing up every day. If it starts to feel like work, if it starts to feel like not fun, if it starts to feel like a struggle, then I’m like, “Something needs to change.” I might still sit at the computer and … It doesn’t mean I walk away from the project or working at it, it’s just like, well I will for a bit, but it just means something has to change. I’ll have to find a different way around this. Sometimes I might leave it for a month or two and then come back to it if it’s still important to me depending on what it is.
Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. Let’s dig into that a little deeper. If we look at a course creator out there, somebody looking to come online or try to actually build an online business full time or one the side with education … There’s a thing I notice sometimes where some people kind of get in this make money online trap. They get really focused on that and executing on tactics that are supposed to work to help you make money online.
Through that process, people often miss their most valuable asset, which is just being themselves and really caring about their students or their learners or their perspective customers. Really focusing on their problems, not executing marketing tactics. Yeah you need to build a business, you need to … There’s certain pieces you need to put in place and best practices, but what … With your awareness in spiritual entrepreneurship and living on purpose, what are some pitfalls you see out there and how do you advise people if they’re getting a little bit off track or a little bit too focused on the money and things aren’t working? What should they do?
Calvin Correli: Oh boy, where do we start? Pay attention to your body. How are you feeling your body? If you’re tense, if you’re feeling scared, what is going on in your body? Take that as cues, as input that informs you. Oftentimes I’ll see people do things and write in ways that just doesn’t feel genuine for them and I’m like, “Just trust that you don’t have to do that and pay attention to that.”
Put yourself in the shoes of your clients, of your customers, of your recipients, like, how’d you like to be communicated to? How’d you like to be treated as a customer, as a client? Make sure that you treat other people the way that you want to be treated. Not because of the golden rule, but because that’s what works. What works for you and what really makes you connect with the people that you want to buy from and make you respect them. Trust and the relationship that you have with your audience is your number one asset and it’s easier to squander than to build, but it’s easily built when you’re just being real with people.
Chris Badgett: Even this video, well this is a podcast and [inaudible 00:16:32] just be listening, but there’s a video version on YouTube. I’ve done a lot of videos for various things over the course of LifterLMS. People often say like, “I appreciate how authentic you are. You’re just talking. There’s not all this wizardry going on.” People appreciate that. Are you perhaps familiar with a Dutch guy named Wim Hof?
Calvin Correli: I’m not, no.
Chris Badgett: He’s known as the Iceman. I just took an online course from him. I’m all about online courses from every single angle, but … I took it. He does a lot of stuff with breathing, cold exposure and meditation. He’s climbed Mt. Everest in shorts, he does all these things under the ice. I went through his training program and did a bunch of cold exposure and worked through the breathing methods he does. I got a lot of the-
Calvin Correli: What do you mean [crosstalk 00:17:28] cold exposure? Like in the shower or in the bathtub with the ice cubes or?
Chris Badgett: You can go to the shower, bath. Right out my window is the Atlantic Ocean so I can actually go down to the ocean, or like a freezing river and that kind of thing, but you can just do it in the bath and shower. Through his whole thing … Once you see Wim Hof … Maybe after this interview just google and find a video and check him out.
I’ve never seen somebody in an online course format be so genuinely themselves. He’s just kind of a wild Dutch guy. He’s developed this system and he’s worked on it for years. He’s funny, sometimes he curses. He has fun, he jokes. It’s like-
Calvin Correli: What does it do for you?
Chris Badgett: It does a lot of things. It helps with sleep. It helps with stress. It helps with just mental focus. It actually helps with pain. I have chronic low back pain that I’ve struggled with for a long time and it’s helped me work on that. It has all of these different benefits. I’d say the big on though is just an overall reset of the autonomic nervous system when you go through the exercises. It’s very cool.
On the authenticity note, I’ve never had so much fun in an online course, just experiencing somebody who was able to capture that learning journey and teaching all this in an online format. It was so cool and I wish everybody could do that. All the course creators out there … Not everybody has to be all funny mountain man guy, but it’s just so refreshing.
Calvin Correli: Sometimes what happens is like … If you have a belief system that goes like, “Well, I’m not worthy of this. Who should listen to me? I don’t have anything of value.” Even though you do, but you have all these stories going on in your head. Then it might actually be a little tricky to be … Might be easier to put on the marketing persona than to actually try to connect because this stuff gets in the way. The other piece of advice I would give people is really, really investigate your thoughts.
I’m madly in love these days. Have you ever heard of Byron Katie?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Calvin Correli: Loving What Is?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Calvin Correli: I read that book first like 10 years ago in 2007. Then I kind of forgot and then I come back and then I forgot and then I came back to it. Recently like a month and a half ago, I just went on a binge and I got every single audio program on audible.com. She has a lot of recordings from live seminars and workshops and I’m like, “God, this is so awesome.” We can work on all kinds of things, but if we don’t look at our thoughts and how we’re torturing ourselves with our thoughts and keep perpetuating things that are not true and that are hurting us, then to a large extent, nothing else that we do is gonna matter.
Chris Badgett: Is that how you look at … You mentioned some things around self love and self hate. Is examining your thoughts how you become aware of that? Where do you go with that?
Calvin Correli: Yeah. It’s like noticing in your body when you’re feeling stressed and then identifying like, “What is the thought that’s causing me this stress now?” Usually some sort of resistance to something, like, “I should be different,” or, “This should be different,” or something about the future or, “This is gonna be awful,” whatever it is. The realization is like … But you need to do it as in inner realization for yourself, but it always ends back to that whatever is causing you pain is not whatever is out there. It’s your thinking that it should be different. It’s your thinking about it that’s causing this pain.
Unless you address that, the tendency for all of us is to, “Well, if only I had more money or more customers or more success or different leaders or different … Or my partner was different or my body was, or whatever. Then I would feel better.” That is never true. That is never ever true. You will feel better for like 30 seconds or maybe at lost like 30 hours, but then there’s gonna be a new goal. There’s gonna be a new goal. There’s gonna be a new goal because that whole process, that’s the self hate part of it. It’s not here to make you happy. It’s here to keep scaring you and make you unhappy. You don’t have to get any amount of money or success or physical anything in order to find happiness, it’s right here, all the time, every moment.
Chris Badgett: Where does this self hate come from, or lack of that urge to push you to of the present moment to some better future state?
Calvin Correli: The urge to get out of the present moment to a future state is a belief that there is something wrong with the current moment that needs to be improved, then it’s going to be better at some point in the future. That’s just the thought that we happen to believe. An important point is that … I used to think that whenever this thought would enter my head, that something like, “Oh, this might happen,” or, “I’m a failure,” or “I’m not good at whatever.”
I thought that just because the thought enters my mind must be because there’s some truth to it, which is totally not the case. We have thoughts in our heads all the time that have zero truth value whatsoever. Getting that disconnect between, just because it’s a thought doesn’t mean I have to believe in it, and then realizing that it’s not true. Sorry, I totally lost my train of thought there.
What was your question again?
Chris Badgett: Where does the-
Calvin Correli: Oh, where does it come from?
Chris Badgett: Where does it come from, yeah.
Calvin Correli: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think it comes from when we were kids. Our parents were brought up that way. It’s like, “well. You need to do this, and then you can be …” Like, “Stop doing that. Don’t so that. It’s too much. You’re like this. Be that,” and so we learned to always monitor ourselves and be like, “Oh, am I good enough? Am I not good enough?” And then punish ourselves when we’re not meeting whatever standard and rewarding ourselves when we are.
I think as kids we internalize like, “I have a need for attention or food or whatever and it’s not being met by my parents.” We just tend to internalize that as like, “It must be because of something in me. If I was perfect, if I was better, if I was good enough, then I would be …” and then that system just keeps going and going and going, and it can go for a very long time. I’ve done it for … And we all still do it. I still do it until I wake up out of it, but it’s like, get and the scale in the morning and like, “Shit. Why am I like … Oh, if only I was a few pounds lighter I would feel better.” It’s like, “You know what, actually experience tells me that I will for a very little bit and then it won’t really matter.”
Chris Badgett: Is self love basically the opposite of that?
Calvin Correli: Yes.
Chris Badgett: Like, be in the moment and everything’s okay? And go easy on yourself? Even thought you have two extra pounds, it’s okay to be happy?
Calvin Correli: Yeah exactly. Why wouldn’t it be okay to be happy? How does being unhappy make anything better? Self love ends up being everything love, which ends up being just not resisting anything. The whole thought mind and the whole ego mind is resisting what is. That’s all it is. It’s all it does and as long as that’s in control, it’s gonna find something to resist. Like, go to the most perfect, beautiful beach and the weather is amazing and whatever. There’s fresh coconut water and it’s just … Give it like three or four days, I bet you, you’re gonna find something to complain about. It’s just how it is. It’s just how it works and that’s fine.
I think the point is just like when we get back to business, it’s to always be mindful of how this stuff works and realize that it’s not … Enjoy what you’re doing right now and do things that you’re proud of and that makes you happy right now and just feel good to you to do. Building towards your business and then trust that it’s all gonna work out.
Chris Badgett: Right on. What would you advise somebody who’s building a membership site or course in terms of, get in touch with your authenticity, but then in the method that they teach or treat other people in their platform. What’s some advice you have for somebody trying to figure out, maybe they’re an expert at something but they’re not necessarily trained as a teacher, like, ow do you really connect with people in this world?
Calvin Correli: Focus on genuinely being of service to people. “How can I serve thee people today?” Let that be your curiosity. A tenancy I think that I definitely can see in myself is like, “I need something. What can I get? What can I do so I get this thing for me? Need more [inaudible 00:27:38]. I need more,” whatever it is. I’m not saying that’s wrong necessarily, but I think it’s really helpful to have that focus of, “How do I genuinely serve these people? What is it that they need? What is it that I can do? Where is the confusion or where is the thing that I can answer or help them with?” Just focus on that every day.
Why did you get into this business in the first place? What is it that drew you to it? Sure it a way to make money, but I bet there’s something much deeper than that, that just lights you up about it. “I want to work with amazing people and see what they’re doing and just have fun.” Great, let’s connect with that energy and make sure that we bring that into our work every day.
Chris Badgett: I love that. One way I think to say that to is, be of value. Don’t just try to extract value, like email addresses, money for courses or memberships of whatever. You need to figure the mechanics of that, but it’s all about delivering value to the people and loving what you do.
Let’s talk about Simplero a little bit-
Calvin Correli: And just stay with it. That’s what I’ve seen over and over again in all kinds of areas. If you just stick with it, even if it’s just for your business an hour a day, even just 20 minutes a day, keep at it. Keep doing it and eventually … Keep being curious about yourself, about your s=customers, about the whole process. Eventually you’re gonna [inaudible 00:29:15].
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. I think you were mentioning earlier that you were getting around … Simplero’s about eight years old, which shows a track record of sticking with it. I’m sure there were some ups and downs in early days, maybe it wasn’t gonna work, you didn’t know.
Calvin Correli: Yeah, yeah. There were moments where I was like, “Oh shit, maybe I’ll sell this thing. I don’t want to do this anymore.” What kept me going was that I had customers and they were using it. They were excited about it and they were asking me questions and I was like, “I can’t ever let these people down. I have to keep going.” It remind me of that Steven Pressfield concept of Turning Pro. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. I have to show up for these people. They depend on me. It’s their livelihoods. They’re feeding their families and their kids through this business. I need to show up. That pulled me through it.
It’s been a few years since that. I think five years since I ever had that kind of thought or idea, but yeah, it really helped to have that relationship and that respect with and towards and from my customers to pull me through that. I’m so glad that I kept going.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That trust that they put in you, I mean, if you needed to close it up, you can do that but people put their trust in you like you said. They’ve built their life around it so that’s a good motivator there.
Well, when I look at Simplero, I’ve done a lot of work over the years. Agency work, I have a product in the same space. I’ve been around a lot of different membership sites and online courses and marketing things, but this, it just looks like a complete end to end solution. This might be the elusive all in one platform.
Calvin Correli: Right, yeah that’s the idea.
Chris Badgett: What is the top bullet point feature areas that it addresses?
Calvin Correli: Let’s start with [inaudible 00:31:30]. [inaudible 00:31:32] all of that. The ethical [bribe 00:31:36], the whatever you give them, which could also be a [inaudible 00:31:40] course or whatever you want to make it. Modules that you’ve put on your website, all that stuff. Products, anything you want to charge for, however you want to charge it. You can sell lectures, workshops, seminars. You can sell coaching sessions, eBooks, online courses, videos, audios, drip, whatever you want. We don’t really support things that needs to be physically shipped. That’s kind of the delineation, but pretty much anything else.
To the membership sites and delivering content and a discussion forum and the membership site and all that stuff, you can do your website on Simplero as well. It’s our most recent major addition, which is really cool. It’s just beautiful, simple website builder that’s designed for what we do. It has a box for testimonials. It can show your products if you’re one of those businesses that has multiple products that people can buy and all that.
Affiliate tracking. Landing pages that you can have separate things that you can traffic to for … Squeeze pages to get emails or for a sales pages for your products. What else we got? I think we got pretty much everything that you need for that business.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Sometimes we say that the best solution is not always, I mean, it’s different depending upon what your needs are and you’ve got a really awesome, all in one platform here. Simplero hosts the website so you don’t have to deal with all the stuff like, we’re in the WordPress space. You own your website, you gotta deal with updates. WordPress is open source. Things are changing. You’re installing other plugins. That’s not for everybody.
Calvin Correli: I think for a lot of people it’s just that knowing that there’s one place to go to for support when things break, it’s like they know it’s us, and we will take care of them. We will help out. We’ll get it fixed. You don’t get thrown around between you know, “Oh, it’s not really our fault. It’s the hosting company. It’s this other plugin creating the …” whatever it is.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Well, let me ask you a question just as an entrepreneur, but also keeping in mind for course creators if they have a diverse skill set or knowledge base. When I look at something like Simplero, and I know just as well from being in the learning management systems space and all of the Ecommerce and all the stuff involved, it’s like an infinite … If you’re gonna do the complete solution, it’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole over here or this.
I guess my question would be from a software company perspective, how do you prioritize things in your product roadmap and make sure only the essential features stay in or that you build towards and make sure … Because, it’s like … If I were to talk and name brands and stuff like that, this is like a combination of Infusionsoft, Leadpages, membership site stuff, I mean, all these other disjointed things, and you were able to bring it all together. That’s hard to do. It’s really hard to do.
Calvin Correli: It’s a lot of work. I can attest to that.
Chris Badgett: How do you stay focused and how do you prioritize it? Is it really just as simple as staying focused on what your customer needs without having to go anywhere else? Is that it?
Calvin Correli: It really helped that I was doing this business on my own to begin with, so I really understand it and I really know … I have a good strategic mind, so I have a really good sense of what you need and what you don’t kind of thing. We put a lot of effort into comping up with the simplest solutions that we can. I see a lot of programmers that have this tendency to just write more code and more details and more features than are needed and it ends up being really costly for everybody. It’s costly to do and maintain and users get confused and stuff.
I’m not gonna say we always get it perfectly, but that’s what we really strive to do. I built this pretty much solo for like five or six years and so it had to be simple enough for me to build and maintain on my own. I didn’t have the luxury of a large outsourced team or whatever [inaudible 00:36:40].
We have a pretty good sense from a big picture place. I’ve spent quite a bit of time really digging into the vision for this product. What it is, what it isn’t and how it all hangs together. That’s stayed fairly consistent. I did it pretty early on and stayed very stable so that’s testament to the quality of that which is very, very helpful. I think that’s the biggest danger, is when the vision keeps shifting around, then you can kind of see that in the product over time and it just becomes this mishmash.
Our customers, they keep telling us what they want to see and it’s one of the things that we enjoy the most, is that close collaboration with customers. Just, what was it, yesterday or the day before? I think it was the day before. It was like, finally the [Nth 00:37:39] customer was like, “Hey, you know that pre-header in the emails that people can see in their Gmail inbox under the subject line or whatever email they use, I’d really like to customize that and be able to decide what it’s gonna say. We were like, “Yeah. You know what, let’s just get it done,” and so, mix that down and you get it done in a few hours and push it out.
When those moments happens, where it’s just right there and the customer is asking for it and we’re like, “All right, let’s just get it done.” Then we can do it and we can get back to the customer and say, “Here you go. It’s done.” That’s what we live for. That’s the most fun thing ever. That can be small things or biggish things or things that seem very big, but end up being very small. They’re also the opposite, that seem very small but end up being very big.
Chris Badgett: For those of you listening, go check it out at simplero.com. S-I-M-P-L-E-R-O.com. Just to close it out Calvin, I want to thank you and honor you for coming on the show. Sharing your experience and just jamming together about all these issues that entrepreneurs and educational entrepreneurs specifically face and how you’ve dealt with them and stuff like that. I love your last point about staying true to the vision, like it’s more effortless if you really get clarity of your vision and then just stay with it. If you’re clear with it, it’s probably gonna stick for a while if not your whole life. Could you for us, just kind of as a parting thought articulate that vision that has stayed true for you over these years and how you wanted to serve?
Calvin Correli: That’s a very good question. Are you looking for something specifically that you saw, or are you just like-
Chris Badgett: You mentioned that because your vision has been the same for the past-
Calvin Correli: Right yeah, yeah. Okay, got it. I don’t know that I can necessarily. For me, I’ve done this with other entrepreneurs where I start some business and then you get lost in the details and you kind of forgot what it was all about. What I’ve done is, I’ve brought usually like a founder team together in a guided meditation and then, “Close your eyes,” and then I would guide them through this process of reconnecting with that moment.
I think about it this way, is like we’re getting touched by something that inspires us literally to start this business. Bringing people back to that moment of connecting with, “What made me want to do this?” It’s a very felt thing. From there, I’ve seen these amazing processes of people just realizing and started to cry and having these, “This is what it was all about,” I guess got lost in the struggle. It’s a very felt thing, but the idea is to take someone who’s really good at what they have to teach and offer and really care about that. Care about their audience and how they can help them.
One of the other things backtracking a second … I’m not very good at being short. One of the other things was that I really … I had this vision in 2008 of how I wanted to do my part in transforming consciousness on planet earth through entrepreneurship, so I create these businesses and products that touch peoples’ soul in a deeper way. It’s funny, Steve Jobs actually talked about that, like products can have a sense of enlightenment about them that affects people.
Simplero is one of those things and I realized that instead of my sitting down and doing one on one transformational work with a bunch of people, I could write software that enabled other people to do transformational work with people. Basically, anything where you have that openness to change. Whether it is learning something new, there’s an openness, there’s an expansion. I love that so I want to support that in any way.
The vision is really for anyone who has that aura about them of wanting to teach to expand themselves and their clients lives et cetera. I want it to be super easy for them to go in and … We take care of all the things that can be automated. All the things that are technical, and you can just focus on building your relationship with your audience and transforming their lives and transforming yours in the process.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome-
Calvin Correli: That’s very sharp.
Chris Badgett: In the spirit of staying with what is, I’m gonna ask you another question because it’s coming up for me. I think you just mentioned it. You referenced Steve Jobs saying how products could have a spirit. I also heard you say in another video or something about that, products having a soul or your business having a soul. Could you speak to that a little bit? You’re the creator of Simplero. We’re entrepreneurs, we have companies, we have businesses. The people out there listening are creating their own membership sites or course or education companies. How can this concept of the business or the work [of art 00:43:14] having a soul, can you help shine a light on that just a little more before we go?
Calvin Correli: For me it’s where I go to when I need to make decisions about it and also for motivation. It’s a place that I go very often. It’s like, “This is what this is about.” There’s me and what I’m about as a founder, and then there’s the product and the company and what they’re about. It’s really tuning in to a very felt sense of, “What is it?” It doesn’t necessarily have words, but it really helps me make decisions and get into a more grounded … I like to think of it as like employing my whole mind, body instead of just my mind. Letting my mind be part of my body and letting my body and all the awareness that’s in my body be part of my mind and inform decisions. It’s hard to put in words. It’s very operational, it’s very practical in making choices.
Chris Badgett: What’s that feeling? I know what you mean, like if you’re at a great … If you’re in a great company or having some kind of great experience with a product, whatever that is. There’s a feeling. It kind of has its own vibe-
Calvin Correli: [inaudible 00:44:45] often I can feel it, like restaurants. You go into some place and you’re like … you get a weird feeling like, “I’m not really getting a read on what is this, what’s going on and, how do they want me to feel?” That kind of thing versus some other places that are just beautifully designed and you’re like, “Ah, okay, yes. Here it clicks in.” Might not be my taste, but at least I know exactly what’s going on here.
Chris Badgett: I have a theory with restaurants and actually just cooking in general, that one of the best things to do to make great food is, it has to be made with love. You can tell. I can tell this-
Calvin Correli: Which is why it’s completely crap that we pay … Cooks are generally paid minimum wage and when you tip, it doesn’t go to the cooks. It only goes to the wait staff by law and all that stuff. It’s pretty messed up.
Chris Badgett: Right, for sure. Well, Calvin Correli ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming on the show. Where else besides simplero.com can people go to find you and connect with you on the web?
Calvin Correli: Well they can show up at my door. That would be awkward, we haven’t talked before. On the interweb, you may find me at calvincorreli.com, which is my full name. I’m sure you’ll put a link somewhere. I have a blog and I have this video show that I do called The Calvin Show. I have a newsletter there as well that I write to occasionally. Please feel free to write me back. If you hear this, email me. The easiest way is to get on the newsletter and then you’ll get emails from me and then you can just hit reply and I’ll respond. I always respond to my email.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks again for coming on the show.
Calvin Correli: That’s a big promise. Do I have to do it forever now?
Chris Badgett: Yup. This video will be live forever. Well thank you and have a great rest of your day and we should do this again sometime.
Calvin Correli: Thank you so much Chris. It was really fun. I was really glad to meet you and thank you to everyone who listened or watched for sticking with us and for being here and for doing what you’re doing.


Sell and Manage Courses Plus Coaching with LifterLMS Private Areas

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about how to sell and manage courses plus coaching with LifterLMS Private Areas. In this episode Chris is interviewed in this episode by Ali Mathis, and Ali is a part of the LifterLMS team. Ali and Chris discuss the new LifterLMS Private Areas add-on, and they get into the nitty-gritty details of how you can use it to engage your students and offer a customizable way of monitoring your students’ progress.

In this episode you will learn about the Private Areas add-on recently released for the LifterLMS plugin. Ali and Chris talk about what the add-on is, who it is for, and what it has to offer for you and your customers. Ali and Chris also get into the origin of Private Areas and where the idea came from.

The Private Areas add-on is something that emerged out of the community of customers and people using LifterLMS. A member of the WordPress community, Chris Lema, was talking about the need for coaches to have a private page per student per course to serve as personal content, in addition to the lessons in the course that everyone goes through.

Private Areas allows you to sell your base course for a specific dollar amount, and then have a more expensive course from the same website that includes coaching. We floated the idea of Private Areas around in our Facebook group, and a lot of people said they wanted it. So we set development on it into motion. If you haven’t joined our Facebook group, you’re welcome to join it here. Private Areas also allows you to integrate a tiered pricing model into your course or membership site.

Private Areas allows you to create private posts per student. It also works with memberships, where you can create a private post or series of posts for each member in the membership. You can also build a series of posts in advance and have those trickle out automatically when somebody enrolls in your course.

In today’s world, focus and holding someone’s attention can be difficult with all of the distractions out there online. So having the ability to send specific messages to students directly through your course is optimal compared to sending them messages through Facebook or email. Talking to your students directly about their projects will also help them finish your course and find success in their endeavor.

You can check out the Private Areas add-on here. It is also an advanced add-on that is included in the Infinity Bundle.

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 with a special guest, Ali Mathis from the LifterLMS team. How are you doing, Ali?
Ali Mathis: Good, Chris. How are you doing today?
Chris Badgett: Doing good. We’re going to turn the tables. I’m not going to be the interviewer today. I’m going to be interviewed by Ali about our new product, Private Areas. Ask me anything, Ali.
Ali Mathis: I’m pretty excited. Can you start by telling us a little bit about Private Areas, Chris? What is it? Who’s it for? How did the team get the idea to build Private Areas?
Chris Badgett: Great question. Private Areas really is something that emerged out of our community, our customers, the people using the LifterLMS software. Specifically, somebody named Chris Lema was talking about the need for coaches specifically to have a private page per student per course. It’s like personal content in addition to the lessons and the course that everybody goes through en mass. This was a really interesting concept. Chris had been talking about it for a while.
We floated the idea by our Facebook group. If you haven’t joined that, just go to Facebook groups and do a search for LifterLMS VIP and you’ll find it. People were really interested. They were really interested in the idea of offering coaching in addition to courses. Either that’s how the program was structured, or it was like an upsell where you could, let’s say, for example, have a hundred-dollar course, but then have a thousand-dollar course plus personalized coaching offer from the same website.
People just got really interested in the idea and lots of people said they wanted it, so we created it. We rolled it out. If you’re listening to this, it’s already live. You can go check it out on LifterLMS.com. It’s also an advanced add-on and therefore included in the Infinity Bundle. That’s what it is. It’s basically the ability to create private posts per student per course, and it also works with LifterLMS memberships where you can create a private post or a series of posts for each member in a membership.
Also, one of the really neat things we snuck in there, another feature that you can do is you can actually build an automation or series of posts in advance and have those trickle out based on when somebody enrolls in a course. To better describe that, let’s say you offer a course plus coaching, but you know that your private posts, you’ve developed a system and a routine you run through with your clients, so you create those private posts in advance. This one rolls out on week one. This one rolls out on week two. This one rolls out on week three. It can be personalized with the person’s name in it and stuff like that. It’s a automated sequence that you go through as a coach and mentor or teacher every time with each individual student.
I can get into more details of how to use private posts too.
Ali Mathis: Before we go into more details about that, just from a big picture level, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about or ask you a little bit about why somebody would want to use Private Areas instead of, say, just sending an email with information or an email with an assignment. What’s the benefit to Private Areas in that respect?
Chris Badgett: One of the most precious resources in today’s world is focus and attention. If you do your private coaching outside of your platform, whether that’s in Facebook or email, there’s an opportunity for attention to get distracted. It’s really important. If you are doing a coaching program, there’s nothing wrong with sending personalized emails to your customers, but why not bring them back to your site instead of their inbox to receive that private content? It’s more of an integrated platform solution, as opposed to stringing together different apps to make it happen.
There is a time and a place, like as a coach or consultant, for using other tools, let’s say something like Zoom to record a private coaching session that’s part of your offer, but you can then record those videos and then perhaps put that replay video inside somebody’s private area. That’s something that they can come back to over and over again, and it doesn’t get lost in just the email inbox and gets deleted. It can stay there. There can also be further, deeper private conversations below that private post so that it’s not just a static piece of content, it’s also a conversation.
Ali Mathis: Just, again, from a big picture level, to me it seems like adding private areas to your courses as a coach opens up an opportunity to have different tiered pricing and maybe a bigger revenue stream, essentially charging more for courses that offer private areas. Is that what you envision in terms of a business model for coaches and teachers that are using Private Areas?
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. There’s no question that if you give somebody personalized attention … Because not all human beings are exactly the same. Some people get stuck in different places or have different challenges or have different starting points. Think about it. If you were to publish a book, or think about some of your favorite books, what if that book author was also creating private content just for you and your unique situation? That’s super valuable, and that’s why if you add private coaching to your education products, it does require more of your time, but it becomes a lot more valuable, especially in the service of the results, that you promise to have that private individualized learning opportunity.
Ali Mathis: Cool. Let’s get into a little bit more of the nitty-gritty details here about how you can use Private Areas. You’ve written a couple of really great blog posts about it. You touched on the first one already, which is re-posting a link to a recorded training call. Is there anything more you wanted to say about that one?
Chris Badgett: I would just say that’s a pretty easy one to add. If you are doing your course … I’m not necessarily a big fan of lifetime access, especially for coaches, because in the “real world” a lot of our best learning experiences and coaching opportunities are not lifelong partnerships like marriages or family bonds or something like that. Some of the coaching that happens in life and learning experiences that happen in life go over a specific period of time with a specific group of people at a specific stage in their life, business, relationship, whatever.
If I were to offer a course that’s promising some kind of fitness result, like we like to use the example of helping somebody to learn how to run their first marathon, it’s really a four-month program. Yeah, I might give you lifetime access, but the training is really the four-month training program, including private coaching. I could publish those videos, like my private coaching calls, to see how the training runs are going, see if we got any injuries we need to deal with, and things of that nature, but it’s really for a specific period of time just leading up to that very first marathon race for that person.
Ali Mathis: Got you. Cool. Let’s talk about some of the other examples you’ve touched upon in some of your blog posts. One that you’ve talked about a lot is publishing a personalized action plan for your students. Can you dive a little bit deeper into that one and give me some examples, real-world examples of how that would work with Private Areas?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Personalized action plans are one of my favorite ways, and least scary ways, to add some kind of personalized coaching or element to your course. The reason it’s not scary is coaching, you think, like, “Oh, I’m going to be on the hook for monthly, weekly calls forever, for a specific period of time,” whereas an action plan is really specific. It might be I have a course on how to … Let’s say it’s a business training course on how to grow your business from the six-figure to seven-figure mark. My course is great, has lots of great content and information and ideas in it, exercises that you’re supposed to do and steps you’re supposed to take, but I know not all six-figure businesses are exactly the same and have exactly the same challenges or starting point. If you’re at $100,000 a year or $500,000 a year, the course may be relevant, but your starting point is a little bit different and the strategy to get to the seven-figure mark might be completely different.
If my course is great, I do some kind of needs assessment where they fill out a form and get some key metrics as a teacher that helps me understand where they’re at and what their blocks are. Then I can develop a personalized action plan for that specific customer that takes into account some of the nuances of their exact situation. That’s how I would use Private Areas in that case. Let’s say that’s all that’s offered, it’s the course plus a personalized action plan. You see this sometimes in the fitness industry. Someone will create a custom workout plan or a custom diet plan in addition to just the general training.
Ali Mathis: With Private Areas, is it all or nothing? For example, if you have one course, can you offer Private Areas to some students and not others?
Chris Badgett: Yes. All your courses could also include Private Areas if you structure your learning opportunity that way, or some courses could offer that and others would not, or memberships. I would say the most common way I see people starting to use it is they have a course that’s more passive in nature, but then the course-plus-coaching, which is powered by Private Areas, is an upsell and it costs a lot more than the course. I see the course, I like to describe it as a do-it-yourself more kind of learning experience, where the course-plus-coaching is more of a done-with-you learning experience.
Ali Mathis: Certain students could choose the upsell, and certain students could keep the base package if they wanted.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. It could be a question of budget and what people could afford, or just what’s the best fit for that person at that time. Maybe the course by itself is enough, or maybe they really need the individualized attention.
Ali Mathis: Another example we’ve talked about in the past is publishing a form to collect information or assignments from your students. My questions to you about that are how is that different than just doing that in the general course without private areas, using Gravity Forms?
Chris Badgett: You could accept put a form in your lesson content, like in a regular course, but the place where it gets interesting with Private Areas is that it’s not just the private post, which could be content, it can be videos, images, text, audios, forms, downloads. It can be all kinds of things. But the private area is also the conversation below that piece of content. If you have a form in a private area where the student is submitting very personal, sensitive, private business information, first of all, they’re going to feel much more comfortable knowing it’s in their private area.
Then, second of all, once you receive that information, it just makes sense to follow up either directly below that form with a conversation with the student about the data points they just submitted through the form or the uploads or the photographs or whatever, or create a new private post that’s a next step in the process. But in a lot of learning situations in life, business, and relationships, privacy is critical for some sensitive matters, so it’s all part of that. It’s that privacy element and it’s also the conversation below the content.
Ali Mathis: Can you give some specific examples of the kinds of information somebody might want to collect in a form?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Ali Mathis: [crosstalk 00:13:56]
Chris Badgett: In the business world it might be revenue metrics, team size, marketing strategies currently being used. It could be cash flow economics or profitability metrics. In the fitness industry it might be things about weight, calories, nutrition, exercise numbers, those kinds of things. In relationships it could be something really personal, like, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with your marriage?” and those kinds of … Like, “How many time a month do you do something with your spouse that’s just the two of you?” These kinds of things. If you have a relationship course, you need to assess where your people are at.
There’s always a spectrum. It’s not black and white. You may have a customer avatar that’s called your ideal prospect or student that’s a good fit for your course, but what the reality is is what happens is you may think about that one person as you create content and stuff like that, but you’re actually going to attract a spectrum of people that are not necessarily all the same.
Ali Mathis: Right. That makes sense. This one is my favorite, which is the Private Areas really allows you to publish personalized messages encouraging your students, but what I wanted to talk to you about are some of the challenges around making sure students finish their course, because that’s the teacher’s and the coach’s ultimate goal, and how Private Areas can maybe help improve that course completion, conversion ratio.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s a great one. One of the things that makes a learning management system a higher level than a traditional online course or membership site — and LifterLMS can handle all scenarios, online courses, membership sites, and the needs of a learning management system — but one of those LMS pieces is reporting. People who have a LifterLMS site can look at the reporting. They can even set up notifications that go out to the teacher or the coach if somebody passes or fails a certain quiz. You can just go in there and look at the reporting and see if somebody stalled out. You can look at the group of people in a particular course or people who joined on a certain date or whatever and you can look at their completion rate.
What happens in the online education industry, especially since it can be so anonymous — which Private Areas is a big counterintuitive way to attack that problem, it’s not very anonymous — you can see how people are doing and you can reach out to them and you can connect with them. I like to think of it this way. If somebody’s doing really good or really bad, by creating a private post for them it’s almost like giving them a personal card, but it’s a digital format. It could be like, “Amazing job on lesson five.” Or, like, “Is there anything I can do to help?” could be a private post that goes out if you notice somebody stalled out at lesson three and appears to not be engaging anymore. They’re going to get an email notification about that.
It puts the responsibility … It’s of course up to the student. Sometimes the teacher will just shed all that responsibility, like, “Look, my course is amazing. It’s up to them. They just have to do the work.” But I believe in shared responsibility. I believe that it’s also the teacher’s responsibility not only to make a great course, but also, if things aren’t working out for their students that are especially buying the program, it’s up to them to improve it. Maybe that involves a little human interaction and some private posts to help nurture when things aren’t going well and celebrate successes when they are going well.
Ali Mathis: Yeah. If I’m a current LifterLMS customer, what do I do if I want to try out or purchase Private Areas? Is it compatible with all versions of Lifter? Where would you tell people to start if they love what they hear and aren’t sure what to do next?
Chris Badgett: If this sounds interesting, if you think coaching and mentoring and potentially adding that business model spike that you can do in terms of revenue based on offering coaching in addition to courses, if this sounds interesting to you, I would encourage you to head on over to LifterLMS.com and check out Private Areas in the store. It is an advanced addon. It can be purchased by itself. You do need to have I believe it’s LifterLMS 3.11. You’ll need to be at least at that version to use Private Areas. You can just update LifterLMS, the core software itself, and then grab Private Areas.
What a lot of people do is they actually get Private Areas as part of the Infinity Bundle, which includes all the products made by LifterLMS, all the design tools and third-party integrations in the Universe Bundle, and also the advanced addons that are in the Infinity Bundle and continuing to be added as time goes on there.
Ali Mathis: Just from a little bit more of a technical level, say I’m a Lifter customer and I purchase Private Areas and I upload the plugin. Then what happens? Does it just appear? Do I have to activate it? What are my next steps to use it?
Chris Badgett: All you have to do is upload it just like a regular plugin, activate it, and then you’re going to get a new little menu item in your WordPress area called Private Posts.
Ali Mathis: Got you.
Chris Badgett: It’s from there you can start creating them. Then, I would encourage people, if you want to get into the automation thing and setting up a series of private posts that roll out automatically, you can do that, but maybe just start with take your course and add a second access plan that includes coaching. Give it a higher price, whatever makes sense to you. Then, when people buy through that access plan you can start creating private posts for them or whatever you promise in your coaching offer.
Ali Mathis: If you get stuck when you’re uploading Private Areas, I know this is a softball question, but I’m assuming you can just contact support and the Lifter team will help you?
Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Yeah, if you listen to this and you haven’t used Lifter yet, it does a lot of different things, and the team is here for you. You can just log in to your account on LifterLMS.com, and if you have any questions or get stuck in any way, the team is standing by to help.
Ali Mathis: Cool.
Chris Badgett: There’s a whole support system ready for that. That’s just part of what we do. We know that learning new software takes time. Sometimes you don’t know where everything is and you have questions, and we’re here for the community.
Ali Mathis: Awesome. Thanks, Chris. Thanks for answering all my questions.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Thanks for putting me in the hot seat, Ali. I really appreciate it. It was fun to-
Ali Mathis: I like it. We should do it again.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, we should do it. Thanks so much for doing this. For those of you out there listening, go check out Private Areas at LifterLMS.com. Thanks so much, Ali.
Ali Mathis: Yeah. See you, Chris. Thanks.


Digital Nomading with Online Church Volunteer Training Entrepreneur Scott Magdalein

This episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS is about digital nomading with online church volunteer training entrepreneur Scott Magdalein. They discuss Scott’s teaching business and some issues he has faced as an entrepreneur in the teaching space and how he has dealt with them. They also talk about the freedom of location that being an online entrepreneur can provide.

Chris and Scott discuss the freedom of location that being an entrepreneur online has allowed him to pursue. Scott is currently on a boat in the Bahamas with his family. They have been on the boat for about four months now. Having the ability to own a business and not be tied down to a location is one of the best things about being an online entrepreneur. It is also the reason that some people start an online business in the first place. Chris shares his experiences with traveling around in an RV for nine months with his family.

TrainedUp is a training platform and video library Scott created. It has content that churches can use to train their volunteers. The course has some videos in it already that apply to all of the churches that would be purchasing the course, such as ways to change a baby’s diaper and leading youth ministries. The course also has an interesting aspect where the churches can also upload their own video training as well that has some content more specifically related to their church.

Having a distinct problem you are solving is important for success in any industry. Many people believe that if you diversify and sell solutions to many different problems in different industries you will make more money and ultimately be more successful, when the opposite is true. You will find more success if you niche down and try to solve a specific problem really well. Having more areas of focus can confuse the customer and dilute the value of the services you perform well.

The problem of untrained volunteers in churches is the problem Scott aims to solve with his course. This can help make church services that rely on volunteers run more efficiently, it can help protect the church from liability problems, and it can help to create a better experience for everyone involved.

Many churches already have in-person volunteer training, but they face difficulties with attention and keeping track of all of the volunteers and exactly how much training they have received. So Scott’s course alleviates much of the confusion and frustration with that by giving people the ability to take the training at home or whenever they have time, as well as giving the person administering the training the ability to track their volunteers from the back end.

Scott shares some details on where his company is going in the future in terms of some changes to marketing for their course in order to better serve their customers. Chris and Scott also discuss the possible application of Scott’s course curriculum design in enterprise-focused companies.

To learn more about Scott Magdalein check out his Twitter at @ScottMagdalein and his Instagram at @ScottMagdalein. You can visit TrainedUp.Church to see everything going on there as well. Scott has been on a previous episode of LMScast where he and Chris discussed SEO, and you can find that episode here.

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 Christ Badgett, and today we’re joined by a special guest, Scott Magdalein, from TrainedUp. Thanks for coming on the show, Scott.
Scott Magdalein: Thank you for having me again, Chris.
Chris Badgett: It’s good to have you back on the show. For those of you who haven’t seen or heard Scott before, we did an episode on SEO many episodes back. Scott has a lot of wisdom in that area, and that was a really good tactical, full of lots of tips kind of episode. So go look that up if you’re digging this conversation.
In this episode, we’re gonna get more into what Scott’s teaching business is, some issues he’s facing as an entrepreneur in the teaching space and just general marketing issues and how he’s working though them. And we’re gonna talk a little bit about the digital nomad, remote lifestyle, because Scott is actually coming to us on a boat today. We’ll end with that, but just to kind of plant the seed, you’re on a boat. Where are you right now?
Scott Magdalein: We’re in the northern Bahamas in the Abacos area, anchored off an island called Elbow Cay.
Chris Badgett: Elbow Cay. Awesome. So somewhere down there below Florida, out there somewhere.
Scott Magdalein: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But we’ll come back to that in a little bit. Scott and I met at a business mastermind conference, and we’re both in the learning space and had a lot in common, and it’s been great getting to know Scott, but for those out there who don’t know who you are, what is TrainedUp, your learning platform, all about? What is it?
Scott Magdalein: TrainedUp is a training platform and library, it’s a video library, training content that churches can use to train their volunteers. So we provide both a very simple training platform that’s course based, but it’s very simple course based, and then that’s baked into, kind of coupled with video courses that we make and provide for the churches to use out of box. And also part of our training platform allows churches or ministry leaders to create, upload, record with their webcam right to their training account, to be able to create their own video training as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s really awesome. And just to kind of restate it and make it super clear for the listener, Scott has a training platform that he gives access to to solve a very specific problem in the church industry, and it comes with a catalog of courses, and people can also upload their own courses into the system. What problem are you trying to solve with TrainedUp?
Scott Magdalein: It’s a very specific problem, the problem of untrained volunteers in churches, where you have a church full of people who are trying to serve and want to help out on a Sunday morning or during the week or whatever, but those people, the jobs that they have to do aren’t typically their week to week jobs or day to day jobs like you might be a janitor in a school, but on Sunday morning you’re changing diapers in a preschool room. So there’s some training that needs to go along for the, it’s to get the job done well, and also for liability reasons, to know what not to do with a roomful of preschoolers. Like don’t feed them all peanut butter sandwiches. You can’t do that kind of stuff.
So just to help churches be able to do really thorough training without having to, kind of overcoming some of the existing obstacles to volunteer training in churches right now.
Chris Badgett: That’s really awesome. I love that. I think that’s such a pro way to go about things, to really start with the problem. Not necessarily, Amanda, you’re trying to build a business around this and all this, but you’re really starting with solving a specific problem out there in the world in a specific place, like in church organizations who have volunteers.
And what are some other niche scenarios that emerge in the volunteer space besides, it sounds like there’s things some people may not have thought about, like well if you have a volunteer scenario and there’s small children involved, there’s some basics that some people know, especially if they’re not parents. What else, what are some other common issues?
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, so another one would be, and most of this is volunteer training for adult volunteers that work in various different volunteer roles in the church, so another one might be youth ministry, working with middle school and high schoolers. So you have a handful of adults that say they’re gonna volunteer to be good influences and work with the youth in the church, and that’s great. There’s also a lot of risk that comes along with having untrained adults working with a bunch of other people’s kids that are middle school and high school, so there’s liability issues with alone time with adult and a teenager. Need to make sure to train them not to be alone with students. How to recognize risky behavior, so we do a lot of training on recognizing self-harm behavior or risky behavior, bullying behavior, recognizing depression characteristics or traits, signals.
So we produce training for churches to be able to train on those specific things with their volunteers. Another one might be that we focus on is adults who lead groups of discussion groups, which is not a typical kind of skill that you might learn in the working world, but on a weekly basis, adults have to sit around on a regular basis and lead a discussion on a Bible topic. And that’s not typically a thing that we do on our day to day life, and so those people that lead those discussion groups, almost 100% of those people are not trained Bible teachers at some seminary, so they need some training on how to lead those Bible discussions. So we also offer training content about that.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. So there’s all these layers of problems, so it’s training volunteers, who are then put in situations where there might be problems or challenges they need to overcome. And then, what problem are you trying to solve specifically with technology? You could do in-person volunteer training, right? Why did you build TrainedUp-
Scott Magdalein: You could if you want to, Chris. Actually, churches for decades have done in-person volunteer training. Volunteer training itself is not really anything new in churches. There’s some common problems that we’re trying to help them overcome, which is low attendance at volunteer training meetings. And so since you have low attendance, you typically, churches that really care about it, tend to increase the frequency of meetings to get everybody there, but then you’ve got a calendar stacked full of volunteer training meetings you have to go to, which nobody wants to go to a training meeting.
And then the church tries to make it fun, they try to have food, and it starts to get expensive, and still you don’t get a lot of attendance at volunteer training meetings. And then even with that, you don’t know who was there and wasn’t there, who was paying attention, who got a phone call and missed something critical. So not only is it difficult to get a full coverage of training for all your volunteers, especially as your church grows, but also the accountability level of knowing who’s trained and who’s not trained and who understands the really core principles that they need to know.
Chris Badgett: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. I just love how specific and niche down your topic here and your platform and design of it all is for, and the content itself. That’s wonderful.
Well, let’s talk a little bit, go ahead? You have another point?
Scott Magdalein: [inaudible 00:07:35] the concept of, so a lot of the teaching space and the learning space, it’s a lot of an individual entrepreneur creating content or creating training for an end user to train that person. So me, I might create a course and sell it to a learner. So that’s good, there’s a ton of that, that’s needed. There’s a huge niche that’s not being served, and really, this is the niche we’re serving. We’re specifically [inaudible 00:07:58] church space, that is training the people inside of organizations and on selling that training, to make training within that organization easier. So there’s a whole niche. We’ve debated internally about which niche do we really want to focus on, we feel passionate about churches and church volunteer training, it’s something that me and my team, we love and we care about deeply.
But there’s even just in volunteer training, there’s a whole space of non-profit volunteer training that’s completely underserved. Not just with a platform for it, from a technical perspective, but also from a content perspective, being able to give organizations like Habitat for Humanity or Make a Wish, or anything that might, any soup kitchen in any city in America where there’s training that needs to happen before they show up, for quality reasons, make sure that the volunteers are doing a good job, but also for liability reasons. So volunteer training is a much bigger problem to solve, and it can be solved from a teaching entrepreneurial perspective outside of the church realm.
And then of course there’s the whole training and teaching inside of companies, employee training. That’s being solved by some large enterprise-focused companies. But there’s a huge space with an opportunity to be able to teach basic skills to employees inside of small businesses that’s just not being served well by other companies that are out there.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, one more question before we shift into kind of what’s going on in your world on the marketing side and the customer segmentation side. How did you come up with this concept, which I think is brilliant, of I’m gonna have some general training that’s gonna be good for everybody, but then all in their accounts to start uploading their own courses too that are unique to them. Where did that idea come from? That’s pretty cool.
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, that’s actually just me over the last two years of running TrainedUp and learning what my customers need. We’ve been serving churches with training software for a couple of years and realizing that for somebody who’s not a big portion of their time committed to producing training content, it’s not easy to work with an LMS. So like you guys, what a great lift, LMS is a great tool, but for somebody who, it’s just a small piece of what they do, setting up a learning management system and then thinking about course design and thinking about production and thinking about-
Chris Badgett: It’s a lot.
Scott Magdalein: It’s a big piece. So we did a couple of things. We realized that it was a big hurdle for our customers, for churches on our platform to think through that. So we did a few things. We simplified. Super simplified. We have this new version that just came out last month, super simplified the entire learning building phase into this absolute most simple core thing where yo have a topic you want to teach, you teach the one topic and you add a couple of questions. And that’s it. There’s no scoring system, there’s no bells and whistles. And once your volunteers go in, they watch the video and they answer a couple of questions and that’s it.
And so we moved away from curriculum design concept and moved into you teach a topic and you ask a couple of questions about the thing you taught. So we made that much easier for them. And also we built in some tools to make it easy to just record with their webcam, so they don’t have to set up an extra separate camera and then do the video production and then import and upload and all that stuff. So we made that just like a click a button, record it, click save, and it’s done.
And then the other side is, there’s 40,000, 50,000 churches just in America that all pretty much do the same thing anymore. You go to a church and there’s a church service and there’s a guy that preaches and there’s some music and your kids go over here to this thing and there’s some volunteers that help the kids learn Bible verses or whatever and they play games, and then the older kids go up to the youth room upstairs and they play games and they learn about, and so it’s very similar across all these churches. So with [inaudible 00:12:01] training is just an obvious thing to be able to provide, if somebody needs to learn how to change a diaper in this church, then someone will need to learn how to change a diaper in that church. And why are we putting the burden on all these churches to create redundant training? Why can’t we just do it for them?
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s really interesting just from the society level where kind of in the past, it was like from the top and telling people what to do. And now that everything’s democratized and distributed and everybody’s a publisher, you’re kind of pulling back a bit, like well, you don’t actually have to do it all. Here’s some tools to do that, and you can also be a publisher and do it too. That’s really brilliant.
Well, if we look at the, I like to say when you need to make a decision about building a course or creating a learning platform, it’s all about focusing on the end user or follow the value chain all the way down and if that, in most cases the student wins, everybody wins. And in your case, it’s even more complex, because it’s like that baby who needs a diaper changed, it’s that kid at church who needs to have a good experience with the volunteer or whatever. And then it goes to the volunteer, and then it goes to the trainer of the volunteer. And then it goes to the person who provides the training to the volunteer. And then it goes to, well who’s the person that actually buys the training for the volunteer? And then eventually it ends up at TrainedUp.church where you guys are at.
But what, if we follow that back, who is your customer and what has been your experience as a platform owner? I know you care about solving these problems that are multi-layered, but what’s your experience like around the person making the buying decision versus the people that actually use it, versus the people who first hear about it? How does it work?
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, it’s much more complicated than selling a course to a person who’s gonna watch a video and get value out of it. So for us, solving the problem for the church is more than just providing good content or a good user interface. We have to, to be able to solve, let’s say Joe Blow. Joe Blow’s a youth pastor and he’s got 15 volunteers. Any time he adds a new volunteer, that person needs to be trained up really fast, which is why we call the company TrainedUp. That person needs to be trained up and ready to go within a week or so, and he also has a rank of volunteers that he has to keep up to speed on best practices and policies and stuff like that.
So Joe works within the context of a larger organization. And so we need to serve Joe and help him train his volunteers, but his reality is that he also interfaces with other ministers within his church. He also has kind of an upline where he also reports to maybe the executive pastor or the senior pastor in his church. And that senior pastor, even at that, has accountability back through to the congregation, where the congregation usually keeps the pastor accountable [inaudible 00:15:12] that sort of thing.
And so there’s a lot of levels of complexity with Joe’s situation. So for us to serve Joe well, we have to figure out how we get the software to Joe and the content to Joe in a way that Joe can use it and have good, trained volunteers, but also help him navigate the complexity of adopting new software in a context of his organizational realities.
Chris Badgett: So onboarding. The onboarding into the system, there’s that too.
Scott Magdalein: Sure.
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Scott Magdalein: There’s the onboarding. Sure, yeah.
So we actually are in the process right now of completely redoing, not completely redoing, but of redesigning how we sell the software-
Chris Badgett: Let me jump in and ask you a question there, because if you do that, which is awesome, it’s all about iteration and continuation in improvement. Usually that means you’ve made some assumptions that weren’t correct or at least were suboptimal. What was the earlier thinking?
Scott Magdalein: Okay, all right, all right. Our assumption for was that we can sell at a simple one flat rate and sell it to a church. And the church as a whole, all the staff in the church, all the ministers in the church, the church would purchase it and all the ministers would use it. That’s ideal. The church would say all together, “yes, we decide that we’re going to use this software.” But the reality is, it’s not the staff that’s using the software. It’s two or three volunteer trainers, people that are responsible for their own volunteers within that staff. So you might have a staff of six or seven people in that church, but you have the youth pastor and the children’s pastor and maybe like the small group/Sunday School director person, and those are the three people that do the most volunteer training.
But we were assuming that the whole church would purchase it, which was I think a bad assumption. So we’re actually shifting and running completely new Facebook ads and changing our pricing and changing our new landing pages, all geared toward instead of selling as a flat rate to the entire church for unlimited access, we’re going to break it down and even break down our library into specific ministry areas and then market just that ministry context just to that one person. Am I making sense?
Chris Badgett: What’s a ministry area? What do you mean by that?
Scott Magdalein: Youth ministry. So like the ministry to middle school and high school students and the one person, man or woman, that’s responsible for that ministry.
To date, we’ve been marketing to the entire staff, as a group they would have to make a decision on it, which group decisions never happen. All it takes is one person to say “I don’t think we need that” for that decision to be gone. On the flip side, if we can talk to Joe Blow youth pastor and say, “hey Joe, this is a tool that you can sign up for yourself, you don’t have to get any permission from anybody, it fits inside of your budget for your department, you’ve got the credit card with the limit that you’re allowed to use. You can just sign up and just train your own volunteers.” And Joe is the one making the decision for it, then that greatly simplifies how we can serve Joe. Instead of worrying about serving the entire church, Joe’s church, we can say we’re gonna serve Joe really well. And if Joe really likes it, maybe he’ll pass it to Suzy who leads children ministry, or Sharon who leads the small group Sunday School ministry. So he might share it with them. Eventually we might serve the entire church, which would be great, but at the very least we can serve Joe really well and help him train his volunteers, which is really what our mission is as a company.
Chris Badgett: I heard somebody say recently that it’s really good to go, a common mistake in online education is to not be niche enough. So you just broke it down, and then you broke it down again, and now you’re breaking it down to, okay, the youth pastor, this one’s for the children, this is for the teens. So are you saying that they can actually, depending upon where they sit, if they’re in the teen group, there’s going to be different pretty populated courses in there?
Scott Magdalein: Yes. So once we finish this little transition, which we started yesterday, Joe youth pastor will be able to sign up and pay, it will be 40% of the cost, so instead of $99 a month, it will be $39 a month. And he will be able to have all of his own people in there, and he’ll only see access to the library of content that’s specific for his ministry. So it’s only youth ministry content, plus some of our general stuff. We have safety training that’s applicable for across the board, we have common use, general volunteering concepts, Biblical concepts for volunteering in churches kind of stuff that will be accessible to him as well. But he won’t get access to like the care ministry or the children’s ministry, or the greeters or whatever. He’ll just have youth ministry stuff.
To help serve Joe really well, because we really want Joe to be successful in his volunteer training. If he’s successful in his volunteer training with TrainedUp, then TrainedUp is successful.
Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. That’s really cool. So what else have you changed? What did you change, for example, in your Facebook ads?
Scott Magdalein: So we’re still in the middle of it; I wish I had better data. Maybe we could do another podcast in a couple of months and I’ll tell you how it went.
Chris Badgett: All right.
Scott Magdalein: So what we’re doing is we are still running our ads currently that are aiming at whole churches. So we’ve still got tests running in that, so we don’t want to mess with those tests. We still need a couple more weeks testing those. What we’re gonna do, we’re gonna subset, or another set of Facebook ads. And right now we’re just doing Facebook ads, trying to keep the testing really simple. And we’re gonna aim those Facebook ads specifically at three ministry areas: youth, children, and small groups. And then each one of those ads is gonna land on landing page specifically for that area of ministry.
So Joe Blow youth pastor is gonna see an ad for train your youth ministry volunteers. He clicks the ad, he lands on a page where it talks about training youth ministry volunteers with example videos of some of our training that we have for youth ministry volunteers. And then pricing specifically for youth ministry and a sign up form for youth ministry. It’s just him. This blinders, zero [inaudible 00:21:29] focused on just serving that guy. He’ll never even see that there’s children’s ministry, other ministries.
Chris Badgett: That’s really cool. That’s textbook customer segmentation. They’ve got their own pricing, you’re really speaking to the subgroups and going after that. That’s really cool. Well, I can’t wait to hear how all that works out.
Scott Magdalein: Me too.
Chris Badgett: Let’s shift gears a little bit to where you are right now. You’re in the Caribbean, or the Bahamas-
Scott Magdalein: I’m not sure if it’s technically Caribbean-
Chris Badgett: What is the difference between the Caribbean and the Bahamas? Is it one-
Scott Magdalein: I don’t know. People say that they’re sailing the Caribbean; they never say that they’re in the Bahamas. It’s always like Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico or even further south.
Chris Badgett: I gotcha, I gotcha. Well how long have you been on the boat? When did you leave? You were actually on the boat in dock for a while, correct?
Scott Magdalein: We were. We lived in St. Augustine, Florida, for a while on the boat. And then we left in January and we took about a month going down the coast, taking our time, and then crossed over to the Bahamas in middle of February.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. So-
Scott Magdalein: We’ve been here since February.
Chris Badgett: So you’ve been, left the dock about four months ago? Is that right?
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, I guess. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Scott Magdalein: We haven’t touched a dock since. We’ve been sitting on anchor ever since.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. When I first met you, I had actually just got off of about nine months in an RV, so we kind of share this passion for location independence and digital nomading. Not just working from home, but taking the home on the road or on the sea or whatever. Tell me about it? How’s it going for you? What’s going well? Obviously, it’s great to be out on the ocean and in the sun and all that. What are some of the big highs, and what are some of the challenges?
Scott Magdalein: The highs are anecdotal, mostly. So two days ago, three days ago, we were anchored a lot further south, down around a place called Little Harbor. It’s real remote. And probably about two, two and a half hours from any kind of civilization. And I was working in the morning, Erica, my wife is Erica and we have two boys, three and five, they were about a quarter mile away or so on a beach. She put the boys on a paddle board and taken them to a beach while I was working in the morning. I hit a spot in my workday, I was like, I’m kinda done for now, I could work some more in the afternoon, but I hit a stopping point. So I would say I put on a bathing suit, but really I just jumped in the water and swam over to them and hung out on the beach with them in the middle of the day, left my phone and computer on the boat and went and swam in crystal clear blue waters.
Chris Badgett: Living the dream.
Scott Magdalein: Saw a sea turtle as I was swimming, saw a couple of starfish and plenty of conch. And then went back to the boat, ate lunch, and started working in the afternoon.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Scott Magdalein: Got a little exercise, good quarter mile, half mile swim.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s the typical bay stuff. And I know what you mean by the anecdotal. It’s just those dream experiences. Unique, great quality time with people you love and being out there in nature, having no choice but to disconnect from technology and leave work behind and be around all the other animals and great things out there in the world. That’s awesome.
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, for me, this whole running an online business, for us it’s kind of a software and content business, but a lot of content entrepreneurs have the same opportunities to be able to run a business that has no ties to any location or even any kind of real schedule, like a set schedule. So you can go where you want to go. For us, not everyone wants to live on a boat in the tropics, but living in a cabin, living on the road like you did in a trailer for what was it, six months, nine months?
Chris Badgett: Nine months, yeah.
Scott Magdalein: Nine months, yeah. Essentially, to have the options laid out in front of you, what you want to do. Our biggest problem now is, with all the options in front of us, what do we want to do from here?
Chris Badgett: It’s a big world.
Scott Magdalein: It’s a big world. A lot of water in this world and we live in a boat. Nd so we’ve got plans in the fall to travel up the east coast. Might make it to Maine.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s be cool. Yeah.
Scott Magdalein: Actually do have plans to make it to Maine. Probably not this year, but maybe next year. It’s a long trip up the coast. But at least go up the coast to the Carolinas or whatever and spend some time in some pretty islands up there.
Chris Badgett: By the way, I’m from North Carolina, and over by the Intracostal Waterway, by Riceville Beach, maybe if you’re in that neck of the woods we could hook up over there too.
Scott Magdalein: So there’s Buford I want to go to and Beaufort. I want to go to both places.
Chris Badgett: I used to go to summer camp as a kid around there, so I know that area. It’s awesome.
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, so we can hook up there. I haven’t seen Chris since last November, so it’d be cool.
So anyway, just the opportunity to do whatever, whenever, wherever. And the only tie-down is be sure that we’re serving our customers well. And sometimes that means working a full day of work, most of the time it doesn’t. Honestly, I don’t work full days, I know the age old adage is as an entrepreneur you work way longer than normal hours. And I guess there have been times when I’ve worked those long hours, but you don’t have to be a slave to your business. You can organize and design your business to fit your lifestyle, rather than fitting your lifestyle around your business.
Chris Badgett: What are some of the challenges, and I’ll just roll off some of mine just from the RV story and some of the other various nomading things I’ve done. I’ve lived internationally with kids in Costa Rica and done different things, but I mean the trailer specifically is kind of small, as I imagine a [crosstalk 00:27:34] boat would be. Which is good, but sometimes you’re climbing over somebody just to get to the other side of the room. So you’ve got that.
Scott Magdalein: Walking a gauntlet of toys along the ground.
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Or just, you probably don’t run into it so much on the water, but trying to find a spot to park or camp or whatever, or anchor, and for whatever reason you can’t stay there, so you’ve got to roll on, kids are tired, it’s not good timing. I don’t know, those kinds of things, it’s not all puppy kisses and rainbows, as I like to say. But what are some of your challenges working from the road?
Scott Magdalein: Well, for us, we have a boat with no air conditioning, so we have the windows and doors open all the time. And then sometimes like right now, it starts to rain. I don’t know if you can see that, you probably can’t see it, but it’s raining pretty hard and we have the doors and windows open, so we’re getting water inside the boat.
Chris Badgett: Okay. So what are some of the challenges business-wise? Do you ever have any, more just related to work, not so much like family and work or location and work, but just being remote. What other business challenges to do experience just bing a digital nomad that wouldn’t be really an issue if you had an office somewhere or whatever?
Scott Magdalein: One is consistent internet. We’re pretty remote out here, and I’ve got a pretty reliable system set up for my internet, but sometimes coverage isn’t good, so that can be a problem from time to time. Because of the way that our life is, my computer isn’t always charged. We have to run a diesel generator to charge my computer, so that’s tough. Sometimes I just have to work from my phone.
We had to shift in how we did business with clients and how I interacted with clients. I used to do all our demos, now I do none of our demos, because this isn’t the most professional background for when you’re talking to somebody about spending a hundred dollars a month on training software. I’ve found somebody who’s very professional. He’s, in fact, much better than I am at it. So there’s some trade off with that.
One challenge I guess is that we’re in a small space, and so when I’m working and in a meeting or having to focus, then I have to find a place to get away from the kids, because we’re in a very small space.
Chris Badgett: Where are they right now?
Scott Magdalein: They’re all taking a nap in the aft cabin.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Scott Magdalein: That’s great, so they take a nap in the middle of the day and that helps. But right now, if I were in a trailer, travel trailer or something like that, wanting to get away, I could just step out the door and go walk and find a nice quiet spot. Here, I can’t just step off and walk somewhere, we’re surrounded by water and we have one way to get to shore. We have a little dinghy to get to shore. So if I take the dinghy to shore to get some alone time, Erica’s got no way to get to the shore with the kids. There’s some dancing that goes around about managing, but you find a rhythm. It’s worth it.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Sometimes I share a story from that recent road trip, just being in Yosemite Falls or Yosemite National Park, you could see Yosemite Falls from where I was, and it was beautiful. It was awesome and I was running my business from there. But also, at that same moment, we had something going on and I had to pull one of those longer days, so here I am, my wife and kids have gone off to the Falls or whatever, I’m sitting in my car with the engine running to provide power to my laptop, I’m stealing wifi from the main lodge at Yosemite to finish a marketing website. I can see Yosemite Falls through the window, but I’m not out there enjoying it. I can’t complain, I’m just saying it’s not always great, it’s not always perfect. On the end, in my opinion and in my experience, net, it’s a great thing to do if you like traveling and exploring, and nothing helps you bond as a family and get to know each other’s quirks than living in a small space together.
Scott Magdalein: That’s true. We say small homes build tight knit families.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, they do. They do. Well, Scott, I want to thank you for coming on the show again. And for those of you listening, you can find out more at TrainedUp.church. That’s where Scott is at. Where else can people find you and connect with you on the internet?
Scott Magdalein: Really just Twitter. I don’t do anything other than Twitter. So Twitter is, I guess Twitter and Instagram, Twitter is Scott Magdelein. And Instagram is Scott Magdelein. And I guess the spelling of Magdelein they can find somewhere written, because Magdelein’s kind of hard to spell. But on Twitter I mostly tweet about church training stuff. And then on Instagram we just tweet our life on a boat, so it’s a little bit more scenic on Instagram.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well thanks for coming on the show and sharing your journey as an education entrepreneur and teaching some valuable lessons about knowing your customer and figuring out how to position and talk to them and segment your marketing and things like that. That’s really a goldmine of experience you shared. And also thank you for sharing your story and what you’re up to and sharing that with us as well.
Scott Magdalein: Yeah, thanks for having me on again, man.
Chris Badgett: All right.


Teaching Technology, The Art of Metaphor, and the Online Educator’s Journey with Joe Casabona

We discuss teaching technology, the art of metaphor, and the online educator’s journey with Joe Casabona in this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Joe shares his experiences with online education and teaching at the University of Scranton.

Joe is a very passionate teacher. He has a lot of education and teaching projects that involve teaching online. Joe is also a professionally trained computer scientist and web developer. His podcast, How I Built It, is where he gets into entrepreneurs’ interviews and examines how people built up software businesses. Joe started freelancing when he was fifteen-years-old, and he did it throughout high school and college. He majored in computer science and got his master’s degree in software engineering.

Using your strengths to your advantage is important when creating captivating content. Joe has always liked being around people, as a natural extrovert, so teaching in front of large groups gives him energy and allows him to perform and make his training sessions entertaining. Coming up with analogies in order to help someone understand a point is one of Joe’s strengths, and that helps to communicate his points to others.

Chris and Joe discuss some of the aspects of an online course and what makes it successful. Defining a clear starting point and a clear finishing point is critical for your course. It allows your customers to be able to assess for themselves weather or not your course is right for them by being specific on what the prerequisites are for your course.

Joe has a course about how to use Beaver Builder to create a website. His course gives an interesting and engaging take on website building. Joe creates a website as he goes through the course, and he uses the different modules of Beaver Builder on each page. He does not go through all of the features, but he goes through the ones that are applicable to the tutorial website itself.

A course becomes a lot less engaging when the material in the course is taught as bulk information. When you attach meaning to what you are teaching it is a lot easier to remember. That is one of the things that makes Joe’s teaching strategy entertaining and engaging.

To learn more about Joe Casabona, you can reach out to him out on Twitter at @jCasabona, and you can find him on most other social networks as well. You can find his personal website at Casabona.org. You can also check out his website at WPinOneMonth.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, Joe Casabona. How you doing, Joe?
Joe Casabona: I’m doing great, how are you?
Chris Badgett: Good. Joe is one of those super passionate teachers. He has a bunch of education and teaching projects that involve teaching online in some component and also his skills as a professionally trained computer scientist and web developer. Those projects are called “WP in One Month”. He has a “How I Built It” podcast, where he gets into entrepreneur interviews and gets into how people built up software businesses. He does some teaching for the University of Scranton online in Health and Pneumatics. So, Joe, thank you for coming on the show.
Joe Casabona: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m very excited to chat with you about teaching and course development and stuff.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Awesome. For the people who haven’t heard of you yet, can you give us a little bit of your story? Like, where you came from, you know, who are you, and what makes your clock tick? Like, what are you up to?
Joe Casabona: Yeah, definitely. I am Joe Casabona. I am about 31 years old. I’ve got a wife and a six, seven week old daughter. Aside from that, I’m a web developer and a teacher. I kind of fell into both. I knew I was really into computers when I was a kid and then my parents asked me if I could build them a website. They were like, “Joe, you know, we know you’re good with computers, can you build us a website.” Then I said, “I don’t really know how to do that.” And they said, “We’ll pay you.” And I said, “Yeah, I’ll do that. You’ll pay me? Absolutely.” Like, sure.
I absolutely loved it. So I started freelancing when I was 15, I did it all through out high school and college. I majored in Computer Science and have my masters in Software Engineering which was really fun to do. I love planning software. In grad school, I got a teaching assisting-ship. I would essentially do like a 10 minutes lecture and then have the students work on some project as a supplement to another course that they had to take in the computer science department. I really enjoyed that. I realized that I like teaching as much as I like programming. While I have been kind of in the higher up space and the agency world, I’m a front end developer, a crowd favorite. I wanted to continue that passion for teaching. I taught in person classes at the University of Scranton for a while, and then when I moved away from Scranton, that’s when I decided to start WP in One Month, as a way for me to continue developing courses and teaching people. I think that’s everything- oh, and then “How I Built It” was kind of like an off shoot of WP in One Month. I was asking a lot of people how they were building their online courses and their websites and I said, “Hey, these are conversations that are probably great for public consumptions. So, I started the podcast I guess about eight months ago, nine months ago.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Where does that come from in you, because some people, they’re really good at something, whether that’s web development or whatever kind of skill or craft, but they have to work hard to figure out that teaching piece, or how to be a good teacher. It sounds like that was just kind of natural and enjoyable for you out of the gate. Where do you think that comes from?
Joe Casabona: Yeah, I was thinking about that with my wife because I realized that it did come naturally and I was like, this is not something that comes naturally to a lot of people. I think probably, I’m an extrovert. At Word Camp US, I walk in, there’s like thousands of people and I was immediately energized, I was really excited to be there. I did drama club a lot, so I knew I liked being in front of people and entertaining. I try to make my classes entertaining. I hope they are. I’ve always had a thirst for knowledge and I like explaining the things that I’ve learned to other people. It’s something that definitely comes natural to me and I really enjoy doing it and I’m also really good at coming up with analogies, which is something that really helps me with teaching. I think it’s a combination of things. I enjoy the being in front of people factor, I love learning myself, and so I take what I learn and I like distributing that knowledge to other people.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s really cool. Let’s talk a little bit about your course in the WP in One Month and there’s this lesson we go through as course creators, where maybe we don’t want to make something too general or we’re teaching the people as if they know too much, like we’ve forgot what it’s like to be a beginner. Basically, that’s just a journey of discovering your target market and figuring out, okay, I’m a web developer, I can teach people, but where in the journey are they? Or, how did you define the target market and who you wanted to teach to.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, that’s something that’s super tough, whether you’re teaching online courses or in person. I remember explaining to my Intro to Computer students the difference between a post and page in WordPress and they looked at me like I was insane. It was something that I’d been working with since 2004, or whenever [inaudible 00:05:49] 2006. It was very inherent to me, and they were like, they’re both pages on website, and I was like, okay, I’ve got to reel it in a little bit and explain.
When I define my target market- well, Shawn Hesketh is a good friend of mine, and he’s been a bit of a mentor, and he runs WP101. There’s no way that I can compete with his audience and the quality of work that he does, and I wouldn’t want to anyways, because he’s a friend. So, I was like, alright, 101 I’m going to leave to Shawn.
Chris Badgett: The beginner market.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly. My good friend Brian Richards runs WP Sessions and that’s a bit more of an advanced market, right? There’s like programming classes out that wazoo, I feel. So, I was like, that’s not really the market I want either. So, if WP101 is 101, that’s beginner. WP Sessions is like your graduate level courses, like demystifying databases and things like that, like WPCLI. THat’s like the 501 courses- I want to be in the middle. So I decided I’m going to go with 301.
I read a great article about how the website Implementer is dying. People are graduating from Implementer to programmer and so there are these 10,000 dollar websites, but there are small businesses who cannot pay that. I thought, hey, I’ll target the Implementer. There’s an obvious selling point there, to say, “Hey, if you take my course for 50 bucks, you will immediately get that money back the first time somebody hires you to make a website for 500 bucks.” It’s also a market that I felt was untapped and it’s something I really enjoy doing. There’s a lot of cool tools out there, I like using them. I said, “All right. 301, Site Implementer, and Intro to Programming.” So, I’m going to take somebody from their beginner journey, I’m going to teach them some new skills, and I’m going to start them on their path to the 501, the WP Sessions. That’s a long story on how I came up with my target audience, but I think there’s a lot of good context there.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s really good. I think defining a clear starting point and also a clear finishing point is just critical. For me, listening to what you’re saying, I’m actually a WordPress Power user, but I’m not a developer. At [inaudible 00:08:22] LMS I have a business partner, CTO, he’s hardcore developer, but I’ve always been curious. I’m more of the marketing and the business side, but it’s been on my list to really get a better understanding of programming. With all the words you’re using and the way you’re describing it, I’m like, “Man, I need to take Joe’s course so that I can kind of stick my foot in the water,” and the more I understand that it’ll just help inform my thinking there. I really appreciate what you’re saying there and I think what you’re talking about also just reveals that it’s not just beginners and advanced, there’s this whole spectrum and no matter what the topic is, just pick your slice or your segment. You’re not necessarily at one end or the other.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. Knowing how to use WordPress is one thing, and then knowing how to set up a podcast website is something totally different, because there are endless tools and themes and things and content that you have that you don’t know just from learning WordPress. Teaching somebody how to use WordPress is excellent and again, I can’t say enough great things about WP 101. At the beginning of each of my courses, I say, “If you don’t know how to use WordPress, go over here and learn how to use WordPress first, because I’m not going to cover that. I’m going to show you the tools that I have found from my 15 years experience, the ones that I think are the best or the ones that I use personally and we’re going to build a site together.”
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. So, I know you have a course on Beaver Builder, right?
Joe Casabona: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: So, what does a course like that entail? What is the learning objective and how do you pitch that course?
Joe Casabona: Yeah, so Beaver Builder, [inaudible 00:10:17] with Beaver Builder is my most popular course because there’s a very obvious community of people I can market to which is great. I’m part of the Beaver Builder group. I thought, I use Beaver Builder a lot, a lot of people are using Beaver Builder but, I reached out to Robby and Justin, the guys at Beaver Builder, and I said, “Hey, I want to do a webinar on how to use Beaver Builder. Would you guys want to sponsor that?” And they said, “Yeah, absolutely. Our knowledge base is still growing.” So, I did an hour long webinar, it was really popular and I decided to parlay that into a course.
For all of my courses, because we’re building something, I like to come up with a concept. I want a concrete thing, I’m not just going to walk through the features of Beaver Builder because that gets kind of tedious and kind of boring and you can read that. What I did was, I came up with a concept called Millennium Flights. It’s a travel service to take you to different planets. We built a website for that. So, I came up with five pages of content, I looked at the modules that Beaver Builder has and I said, “Okay, what content would be good for this module?” So I can kind of show and demonstrate.
The big value add for that course was I also showed students how to use the [inaudible 00:11:48] of theme. A lot of people are using the plug in, there’s lots of tutorials out there but the Beaver Builder theme was a whole other thing. I said, here’s how you use the Beaver Builder to design a good site, here’s how color theory works a little bit, here’s how you combine fonts. So, the concept is, you have a blank slate. We have a business, and we want to build a website with Beaver Builder. Each module, I introduce it, this is how Beaver Builder works, here’s how the theme works, and then we’re going to build each page as a lesson.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. I’m a huge Beaver Builder fan, the Lifter LMS homepage, our demo site where we demo the software, we use Beaver Builder, and it’s what we recommend when people are looking for a page building tool. If anybody listening is working with Lifter, or just building websites in general, I highly recommend you check out Joe’s course on Beaver Builder.
I really want to dig into one of the things that you mentioned there, which was, you didn’t do a course that was a feature tour. What you did, is you created the interplanetary travel business website. The reason I want to dig into that is because we have a tendency as course creators to often try to put too much into a course. We teach about this in some of our other podcast episodes, but we talk about three different types of courses. There’s the Resource Course, there’s the Learner Process Course, and then there’s the Behavior Change Course. Then there’s kind of a fourth one that’s like a hybrid of some or all of those.
A lot of people- what I don’t recommend doing is building a resource course, especially your first time around where you’re just building this library of knowledge. It can be harder to sell, it’s way more prone to getting bloated and getting too much and people not finishing it. Resource courses are good for the right target market and the right student at the right point who needs general knowledge about something.
What I heard when you were telling your story there, is you took what could have been just a feature tour, like, here’s the Resource Course 101 Beaver Builder, here’s what all these modules and things do. Instead, you contextualized it and put a story around it and be like, all right, let’s build an actual website. So, now we’re talking about a process which is a lot easier for people to learn by, and also you kind of have a- it’s just more fun and it’s easier to communicate on. I just want to commend you for making that call. And it’s extra work as a teacher, I mean, you can just shoot from the hip and roll out a Resource Course, or you can plan out your curriculum and be like, all right, I’ve got to get some examples, I’ve got to get some exercises and really think it through. Tell us more about that.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, well thank you very much. It is a lot more work and I gave a work camp talk last year on developing a course for WordPress, where I define my process and I come up with the [inaudible 00:15:02]. That gets reworked. It’s not a waterfall, if we’re going to talk about software development. It’s not a waterfall process where I’ve done one and now I’m onto two. It’s more of an agile, or it’s like a circular process. Where I’ve done one, I start to do two and I’m like all right, well, the about page doesn’t really lend itself to this, so let’s go back and revisit the content.
I tell people, learn by doing. That’s how I learned web development, it was pretty effective for me. It also makes things concrete, right? Like, I can explain to you how to throw a fast ball. You take the baseball and you make sure that your fingers are on the seams and you throw and you release your- or I can throw a baseball and then give it to you to throw and adjust. That’s the approach I want to take with my courses, because like you said, it sticks a lot more. I’m not just saying, “This is the post module. You can make three different kinds of layouts with the post module.” I say, “Here’s our recent news, here’s what we want it to look like, here’s how we do it with the post module.” People are actually seeing a website come together.
They generally, if people are taking my courses, they probably have a specific task in mind anyway, so my course is helping them figure out that specific task.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, I love that. I like what you said, people are seeing a website coming together. What it is, the simple way to say that, is to show, don’t tell. Don’t just talk about the features, let’s dig in and throw the ball or build the site. That’s awesome.
In our pre-chat, you also in your portfolio of teaching ability, besides public speaking, online courses, you also do this online course for the University of Scranton. My understanding of that, you help create the curriculum, but you also have some live components, office hours and things. Can you tell us- some people would call that blended learning, like blending the live with the online, or the passive asynchronous content. But, tell us what goes down in your live interactions. What is that like, and what kind of tools do you use for that?
Joe Casabona: Yeah, so the official name escapes me, it’s like an intro to Health and Pneumatics. Basically we combine Health Administration with Computer Science so what we’re doing is we’re giving people primarily in the Health fields in this course, an introduction to Python Programming. I’m very familiar with an introduction to Python Programming because I learned Python basically for this course. I knew that you could read a text book and learn so much but programming, especially if you’ve never seen it before, you have to set up your environment, and you have to make sure that everything is running correctly and things like that. So, we built in- I developed this with another professor at the University- Professor Jackowitz. We built in two live check ins. We use Skype, I think the University uses Engage for their online learning platform and they have a thing called Big Blue Button or something for video chat but everybody has Skype, just about, so I use that.
I tell my students that it’s going to be a face to face thing because I want to see them, I want them to see me so it’s not just another kind of virtualized thing. I ask them, basically, “How’s it going, do you have any questions, what issues have you run into? I noticed with your first few assignments you did this, can you talk me through that? Did you have any stumbling blocks here?” It adds a human component, right? You can read a tutorial or you can take a largely text based course and then you can maybe leave a comment or a question in the Q&A form or something like that, but I want my students to know that there is somebody on the other side of the computer who’s actually keeping tabs on them.
Again, it’s a little bit more work. Like, I could just answer their questions via email and not have to set up a time for all of the students, but it’s a passion I have. I want to make sure I’m doing my due diligence cause they’re paying all this money to take the course, I want to make sure that they’re getting the most out of it. I want them to know that programming is hard, I know, I’ve been there, and I constantly remind myself of that. You’re not going to get it on the first try, and that’s okay. That’s why I’m here for you.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. There’s two things in there I just really want to highlight, which was the feedback loop. If you’re teaching online and you don’t have a feedback loop, I think your words were, “Were you struggling?” Or, you talk about obstacles and things like that. If there’s no mechanism for that, you’re really limiting the upside. It’s more of an owners manual or a video version of a textbook and that’s it. But, once you introduce that feedback loop, people are different. People struggle in different ways. When you hear things over and over again, the same problem, then you as the teacher may be like, oh, well I need to improve this lesson over here because my people aren’t getting it. Or maybe somebody just needs personalized support and you have to have an avenue for that. It’s also, yeah that’s more work, but you can charge more for that if you’re doing it on your own without a University, or if you are connected with some kind of school, when you have the ability for customized support, that just increases the value of the program. That’s awesome.
Joe Casabona: How great would it be if like on Christmas Eve, you’re building something for your kid and you could just video chat with the person who put it together, and be like, “Hey, I can’t find the piece that I need. It’s four in the morning, my kids are going to be up in an hour.”
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s a really neat- there you go! See, that was one of Joe’s talents right there which is analogy. I don’t know if that was exactly analogy but you took something and you put it into context into a story that makes total sense. I’m going to remember that now and forever on Christmas when I’m fiddling around with something like, where’s the red phone? There’s not one. So, that’s awesome.
The other thing is, if we’re really committed to doing great work in education, we’ve all been in those classes where the teacher’s teaching the same curriculum in the exact same way they did for the past 30 years. The feedback loop is also an opportunity to improve as a teacher and to adapt with the times. Especially with technology, things are changing all the time, tools are changing, resources are changing. It’s an opportunity to become a better teacher when you have a feedback loop, and just the very active teaching in and of itself, even if you’re not a natural teacher, is just another step on that journey to mastery. When teaching forces you to think about things, challenge assumptions, build a process, build a methodology, find an analogy and a way to communicate and explain it, that’s really cool.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. It’s cliché to say, but you learn from your students as much as they learn from you because you learn one way when you’re teaching it to a room full of college kids or somebody in their forties who’s getting into work for us for the first time. They’re going to consume information different, and having that feedback loop is really going to improve your methods, give you better courses and add value, which then translates into more money for you, probably.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, absolutely. Let me ask you and dig into the personal side a little bit. I’m a father, I have two kids at home. I have side projects, I’ve got the main the business, I’ve done client work, but now I’m really focused predominantly on Lifter LMS the product. Being a digital entrepreneur and being an online educator, it can be a bit overwhelming. The internet never sleeps, there’s boundary issues, the phone follows you around everywhere. What are some of your struggles with that and how have you overcome it or found some tools that really help you along the way? If you’ve got a family and you’re doing this thing, you’ll fall apart if you don’t put things in place to hold it together. How has that been for you?
Joe Casabona: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. A few basic things, I got married last June and my daughter was born in March, so before I had time to figure out married life being a digital entrepreneur, I had to figure out married life with a pregnant wife and now a daughter. So, I’m still getting the hang of that. I am very lucky that my day job at [inaudible 00:24:39] allows me to work from home, and they gave me one month family leave, which was excellent because I had a lot of great time with my daughter, and I got to really settle in and think on, my life is totally different now than it was ten months ago. I’m married and I have a kid. What do I want to do? I kind of knew this already, which is why I started WP in One Month and my podcast. Client work is very time consuming. Somebody is paying you to get something done in a [inaudible 00:25:16] amount of time, and every hour you bill is an hour where you have to be in front of the computer. I think probably, people can glean from the things that we’ve been talking about, but there’s no such thing as passive income, but there’s definitely income that you can make without being directly in front of the computer all the time. That was the [inaudible 00:25:39] behind starting my two side projects.
As far as balance goes, I really am still trying to figure it out. I got these noise canceling headphones because every time my baby cries, I want to comfort her, even though my wife is still home. That’s still a learning process for me, my wife knows nine to five, I’m at work. I’ll wake up early … Here’s the process I’ve been doing, I guess. I’ll wake up for her early morning feeding, so she’ll wake up around five thirty or six. I will get up with my daughter, I’ll feed her, I’ll put her back in her basinet around seven and from seven to nine, I’ll work on the personal stuff. I’ll take a break here and there to see her, and then in the afternoon, where generally I would keep working on stuff, I will spend time with the family. If she’s sleeping and my wife is sleeping, that’s when I’ll take some time in the afternoon to work on other stuff. But yeah, it’s tough. Balancing a full time job and the side projects and a family is tough, so there are a lot of things I’ve been thinking about and what I really want for the future, but that’s for me and my mastermind group to sort out.
Chris Badgett: Right on. You mentioned the Mastermind group, so support network, not doing it alone. Support on all levels. Like, Masterminds for business mostly, it can be as your personal to. You have family nearby to help support. It’s all about support. Scheduling, boundaries. I’m the same way with you, I get up early. For me, I usually have a morning routine that starts at five A.M., but some of my early stuff is the most experimental me time, the world is not awake, I’m just kind of in my own world. I have certain blocks of time, and yeah, it might take me longer than it did when I didn’t have kids and wasn’t married but I still get it done, and I’m happier to have all those other things, too.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. It’s about time boxing and setting priorities. I have my [inaudible 00:28:11] techno daily planner. I’ll hold it up for you. It’s just a little planner, it’s a daily thing. I map out my days. I’ve got my bullet journal, where I have my priorities for the month and for the week. It takes 20 minutes of planning at the beginning of the week and maybe ten minutes each day to say, “What am I working on today?” Get those things done, is basically what I try to do.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I’m very similar. I have a similar journaling process, and it’s super helpful.
Well, let’s shift gears a little bit to what would you advise somebody who, maybe they don’t have the extroverted personality like you, but they really want to teach and it doesn’t feel natural, what should they try- like where do you get the most joy out of teaching, in surprising places?
Joe Casabona: Huh, that’s a great question. Watching people get it is really exciting to me. Actually, you know what, watching people get it is a lot of fun, but that’s an obvious answers. When people don’t get it, I kind of like that, because it’s a new problem for me to solve. I think in the pre-recording, or maybe I said it during the show, when I first explained posting pages to an Intro to Computer course group of students, they’re college freshmen, they all have to take this course, and I said, “All right, we’re going to set up a WordPress.com website.” So, I’m walking them through the admin and I say, “Posts are blah and pages are blah.” And that immediate feedback, they didn’t have to say anything. They just kind of looked at me like, their faces screaming, “What are you saying?” I had to dial it back, and I had to think, “Oh, man. How would I explain this to somebody who has never made a website before?” Resolving a problem that I’ve had solved for a long time was really fun.
I had a great teacher in college, Dr. Maclusky, probably an introverted guy, definitely a computer science guy, but when we solved a problem on the board, like say we were writing a program to determine if a string is a palindrome, which is something that reads the same forwards and backwards. Race car is a palindrome. We would talk through it and he would look at the board as if it was the first time he was solving this problem. And he would talk through it like he’s never thought about it before. That’s a pretty common computer science 101 problem to solve. That meant so much to me, that he wasn’t just like, well, what do you do next? He was like, “Oh, yeah. Maybe we should remove spaces first. Oh, yeah. That’s a good point, we should definitely make everything lowercase before we check, right?” Because uppercase and lowercase letters are considered different by computers. Just watching him solve the problem again with out input is something that really stuck with me. That’s a lot of fun. Taking a problem you had solved for maybe years and resolving it in a different context is awesome.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s really beautiful, just working with beginners and avoiding that curse of knowledge and just taking a step back and realizing how much that you had relegated to your subconscious mind, your processes, that ability to move all that away, go back to first principals. If you’re going to teach somebody to build a house and you’re looking at a piece of forest or raw land, or the blank chalkboard and really get inside the mind of the beginner or your student. That’s such good advice. And that can be really fun. What a gift to give someone, to give them the ability to see things in a new way and have new ways to solve problems.
Joe Casabona: Yeah, there’s this great XK CD comic that I reference- you’ve probably seen it- that I reference in my talks, and it’s the difference between saying, “Oh my God, you’ve never seen Star Wars?” and, “Oh my God! You have never seen Star Wars!” Like, I get to show you Star Wars. The idea in the comic is that there’s people out there who don’t know what you know and you get to show people what you know now. That’s another thing that’s stuck with me. I shouldn’t get mad at people who’ve never seen Star Wars. I get to watch Star Wars with them now and they are experiencing it for the first time. I love Star Wars.
Chris Badgett: And there you go, with another analogy. Joe Casabona, ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank you and honor you for coming on the show and sharing your course building and your education entrepreneur journey with us. If people want to find out more and go check out your Beaver Builder Course or any of your other stuff you’ve got going on, where can they find you on the web?
Joe Casabona: I am Jcasabona on Twitter and most other social networks. My personal website is Casabona.org, where I link to all the millions of things I’m doing, and then the website WPinOneMonth.com, one is spelled out. That’s where you can find me, if anybody wants to say hi or reach out on Twitter or wherever, feel free to do so.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks again, Joe, for coming on the show.
Joe Casabona: Thanks for having me, I had a lot of fun! I love talking about this stuff.