Episode 170

How to Create Courses, Workshops, Memberships, and Community that Create Learner Results Fast with Erin Flynn

Welcome to this episode of LMScast with Chris Badgett of LifterLMS. Today we discuss how to create courses, workshops, memberships, and community that create learner results fast with Erin Flynn. Erin shares her story, and she and Chris talk about what goes into creating a solid course with high completion rates.

Erin was working as a web designer, and her clients would tell her about the bad experiences they had had with previous web developers, from a lack of communication to just plain disappearing. Erin saw these negative experiences as an opportunity to help web developers with the business part of their service, so they would not have these terrible reputations with clients.

Many web design contractors have problems with customer support, and the problems tend to stem from a lack of communication. So Erin created PDF downloads with email templates the designers could use to respond to difficult clients, so they were not stuck thinking of different ways to deal with customer support. Because, after all, customer support is not their expertise.

The agency Erin had started grew and was doing very well with bigger websites and bigger projects, but she got very sick and was out of commission for months, which hurt her bottom line badly. Erin realized that if she did more online courses with her content, she could still make money even if she has to take time off of work or goes on vacation. So now the main focus of her business is teaching other web designers and developers how to take on clients.

Most of the time the purpose of taking an online course is to learn a skill or solve a problem you are having. Chris and Erin talk about how important it is to be results driven and provide your students with ways to put their knowledge into action and to get a result out of the content they have learned in your course.

Having easily consumable content is important as well. Not having your courses take too much time is key. If your students can finish the course in one day of work or in one weekend, it will incentivize them to get it done and not procrastinate. Erin has also found that having one video rather than many modules is much more actionable and your students are much more likely to complete it.

Chris and Erin talk about the value of guest experts and how they can contribute to your content when venturing into a topic you don’t feel right teaching. Building a community around your product or service helps to add other voices to your product or service, and it offers a level of social support that is self-regulating.

To learn more about Erin Flynn head over to ErinFlynn.com and check out her the Setting Up Camp, Client First Aid, and Reaching The Summit programs she has there.

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

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and I’m joined with a special guest, Erin Flynn, coming to us from Colorado. How are you doing, Erin?
Erin Flynn: I’m good, thank you for having me on.
Chris Badgett: Erin is a kindred spirit, we have a lot in common. We’ve done web design, agency work, we’ve built courses. We’re really into helping other entrepreneurs and her course creation and membership site journey is really interesting as a case study and we’re going to kind of get into it, see what she’s done, see what she’s working on, why she made certain decisions, how those are working out, and I think you’re going to learn a lot from Erin. You can check her out at ErinFlynn.com. And we’re going to be talking about a lot of the stuff that you can see and get over to over there. But my first question for you Erin is you ran an agency or you built websites for clients, can you tell us a little bit about that transition point from building websites to helping web designers?
Erin Flynn: Yeah. So I really started noticing that my clients were coming to me and telling me how they fired their last web designer or developer because there is lack of communication or they fell off the face of the earth or things like that and what I was noticing was the people they were mentioning were actually better designers and developers than I felt like I was at the time, but they were dropping the ball when it came to basic business skills, and just talking to their clients.
So I realized that if I was able to help these designers and developers with the business part, then they would be getting their clients, they’d be making their money and they wouldn’t have these terrible reputations online they were getting. Because as you know, a lot of freelancers are known for falling off the face of the earth and that it creates a real problem. So I thought maybe I could start teaching them a few different things and the first thing that I did was I actually created a kind of an eBook, just a PDF with email templates for bad clients and really what bad clients are is just there’s a lack of communication most of the time. Where you just need to pull them back on track or set better boundaries and so these email templates helped with that and that was back in 2014.
And then I kept still doing my agency and my agency grew and we started doing bigger websites and bigger projects and that was all going really well but last year I got very sick. I was in the hospital, I had surgery and I was out of commission for months which really hurt my bottom line very badly. So what I realized was if I had more courses then I could still make money if something happened or if I went on vacation. So I really started this past year working more on the courses and the teaching which I found out that I actually really love.
So now that is the main focus of my business is teaching other web designers and developers and while I still do take on some client projects, I get to be super picky about who I work with because I don’t have to work with clients right now which is kind of a really great place to be.
Chris Badgett: I love that, where were you in 2009 when I was first getting started because I could’ve saved myself a lot of heartache, learned a lot of some of the things you teach and would have been super helpful for me. But that’s all right, the next generation can benefit from your courses and your membership.
Erin Flynn: Yeah sorry, 2009 I was serving coffee. I was definitely not helping anybody unless they needed a latte.
Chris Badgett: I totally resonate with your story in terms of clients. When I would do web design work, we’d do a discovery session or have pre-sales calls. But as a service provider, I’d always start at a disadvantage because oftentimes the client had a bad experience with the previous web person and I’m playing catch up. But pretty quickly when they see the good communication, it really puts them at ease because that’s what was lacking in the last one. So I like that you really zeroed in on that. Tell us about the email templates that you started with, so what were those?
Erin Flynn: So I would go around like Facebook groups and I mean I had my own share of problems with clients too, and so I had already had situations where I’d say actually you can’t call me on Sunday morning because I’m not working or things like that. I had already had some emails that I had written myself and used on my client’s to set better boundaries. But then I also was like looking around Facebook groups and social media whenever I saw somebody complaining about, “I’ve got this client who like they’re just impossible to work with. Like I don’t understand what they’re saying in their emails, blah-blah-blah.” And I would say, “Well, why don’t you just harp on Skype with them and here’s how you say, hey, I’m not getting what you’re saying. Let’s please harp on Skype call where we can screen share,” and so I would just write that you email and basically like give it to people.
And then I realized, I could like put all of these together and then people can just get this huge … I think I have 84 different … it’s like 40 some situations with like 84 different responses depending on how you want to respond because sometimes you want to be nice and give them wiggle room and other times you just have to be flat like no, this is not happening. So it’s grown over the years a lot.
Chris Badgett: That is super cool. That idea of templates, like not just teaching, like, “Okay, this is how to have better communication with clients, but when this scenario arises here’s if they’re on their good behavior, here’s template A. If they’re on their bad behavior, here’s is template B.” That’s really brilliant because when people are taking a course to become a better web designer, they’re looking for good ideas but they also need like actionable stuff which you’re totally short cutting that with things that they can use and that’s one way for people to learn. It’s not just hearing good ideas and information, it’s actually executing a script if you will sometimes as just part of the learning process.
Erin Flynn: And something with like a tough email, people would … because I Know, I used to do it too. Agonize for hours, like wow how do I say this, how do I tell this person what I need to tell them without making them mad or all of these different things that go through your head. Like, “Are they going to hate me?” And we often want to justify. I noticed something that a lot of people do is they send like these emails that are like six pages long saying, “This is hurting me and it’s making me feel bad.” I’m like, “No, you don’t need to do that. Here’s the two paragraphs you need send and that’s it and you don’t have to think about it, you don’t have to stress about it. Like this is polite, it’s to the point and I’m not saying that you would never ever get a client who responds poorly to that, but for the most part you just need to be very polite, clear and not go on and on about it and don’t spend three days stressing about how to respond. Just copy paste and move on.
Chris Badgett: It’s awesome. So it’s you’re almost like not just a teacher but you’re also like a guide or even a secret weapon of some kind. I know in terms of “firing” a client, the first time I ever had to do that I probably thought about it for quite a long time, obsessive the email, write it but if I had had somebody like you with your course and I put the template out and be like all right, “Maybe I’ll tweak it a little bit, so it sounds like me,” but you would have saved me like days and lots of mental stress and anguish just by having a template and I think that’s the big takeaway for the course creator out there. Is be a guide, not just a conveyor of information.
I wanted to get in a little bit to some more of your course topics and kind of unpack a bunch of scenarios around those but before we do that, could you kind of describe your three entry points to what you offer. You have the setting up camp, you have this client first aid and then you have reaching the summit. What are these different levels of engagement?
Erin Flynn: Yeah, so setting up camp is basically my free membership, it’s a great way to see how I teach and get a feel for what I do. So it’s got like the basic stuff. So if you’re starting a web design business or you’re kind of struggling with basic things like how much money you need to make in a year, that’s what base camp has and that’s a great place to get started. If you’re just kind of confused about what you should be doing in terms of your business. And then client first aid is once I created those email templates, I became known very quickly for dealing with nightmare clients. So client first aid is kind of just a list of all of the resources that I have for nightmare clients. I have a freebie course, I have the templates that we’ve talked about and then I have a bunch of articles on my blog about dealing with bad clients and how sometimes they’re actually not that bad.
But that’s kind of where a lot of people share my stuff. They’re like, “Erin knows how to … she’s got an email template for this or she’s got information on how to deal with your situation.” So I have basically all that put together right there and most of it’s free, the only paid part of that is the email templates. And then the summit is the expedition which is my membership program. So that’s more focused, that’s more for people who have been in the web design business for a year or two and who are struggling to get to the next level. Where they’re doing okay, but they’re still struggling month to month worrying about where their next clients are going to come from and how to actually make their business grow to the point where they’re not worried every month and they’re not working with clients that they dislike. And that’s a lot more focus, it’s a much smaller group where we have more in-depth discussions and I do more like Facebook lives and stuff and stuff in that group.
Chris Badgett: Awesome so three key points I want to highlight there is you’re giving away an incredible amount for free. So like the top of the funnel isn’t just a little eBook or checklist, you’re giving away a ton of value, you’re building trust, you’re getting people results in advance of asking for money. That’s really admirable and I love the idea that the templates are paid. In marketing you might call that like a trip wire or something like that where there’s like they’re not committed to the membership yet but they’re testing the waters with a pay product from you that’s really valuable. And it’s focused at a high value problem when things are really intense or somebody’s looking for a lifeline. Those are good places to put the product.
And then the other thing, probably the most important is you’re super focused. This is the same, person, the same prospect or prospect of student or student at different stages. The summit like you mentioned maybe they’re a little more advanced, they’ve two years into it and now they’re looking to scale or grow or get over some bad habits and that kind of thing or they’re struggling in the beginning. It’s the same person you’re just super focused, you’re not getting distracted on who you’re trying to serve. You’re just helping them at different stages which is really awesome.
Erin Flynn: I will say I was not always that organized. I had to go back and make sure everything made sense and figure out where things put in and I actually killed off a couple courses and programs that I had that did not fit in.
Chris Badgett: Like what?
Erin Flynn: So I had like a WordPress course on how to create a website. We all do, we all put that up there and think that we’re going to be the best like WordPress teacher ever and no, at least I wasn’t. I had that and I didn’t really fit in because then that was focused for not the business aspect, that was focused on the tech aspect and I don’t particularly like teaching tech because it changes so rapidly. In fact as soon as I created that course, they were press dashboard change two weeks later and so it looked outdated. So I pulled that course out and I like re-figured things a little bit so that it made sense for my students to go on a complete journey with me instead of coming in for one thing and then leaving because that wasn’t a good way to retain them as students.
That wasn’t a good way to make a really good impact on their business because they would come in, learn how to use Word Press and then say, “Well, why don’t you have the next level which I didn’t want to create and why don’t you have all of this training on how to create my own plugin or this and that. All these stuff that I didn’t necessarily want to do. So when I refocused on just the business part, the path became much more clear.
Chris Badgett: That is super cool. And I just want to highlight some points in that. One is that you said something that was evergreen was nice. Like having good communication with clients it’s pretty evergreen. The templates there will stand the test of time and the other is you said you stayed, you brought it back and you stayed focused on the business problems as opposed to the industry expertise technology implementation in this case for the web designer. And I think that’s super cool and it brings a layer of focus to what you offer. When I look out into the landscape of niches and I see all kinds of niches but they usually typically fall under different buckets. The main three buckets being business, health and relationships.
So if you’re watching this and you see Erin taking business knowledge, a part of business knowledge into another niche like the technical web design industry, there’s that overlap there. Like if you were to take, you could take that same customer and teach them about health and that’s what you just Googled nerd fitness and you’ll see a guy who teaches people who work from home or web design folks or people who are on the computer a lot how to get in shape. And there’s probably somebody out there with a relationships course for tech entrepreneurs. Just be really clear on where you are because I think it’s really easy especially if you’re scratching your own itch and you’re one of those people who your target market is, you can kind of expand out but sometimes you lose the focus and you also lose the positioning of what exactly it is like where you fit in the marketplace.
I think that’s super cool what you did there and sometimes cutting things away is actually part of improving the membership, not necessarily growing the catalog to a thousand programs.
Erin Flynn: And I do have a lot of programs.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about those programs, when I looked at them and if you want to look at what we’re talking about here, just head on over to ErinFlynn.com and find the membership. PS. Write Soon; how to stay in touch with past clients. I’m just going to name some of these off. How to create a good buy packet, a welcome packet. So these are like tactical. How much money do you need to make; how to price your services; how to create emergency procedures; these are all issues that I’ve had to deal with as a web designer and this is just such a time saver. Like the value proposition here is very clear to me because I’m in this industry, I understand it. How to raise your web design rates. I sold my first website for $300 and it was not sustainable. It was part of my journey but I’m sure you’ve got some really valuable stuff in there.
Niching and positioning which we were just talking about. How to get testimonials; how to create a business that fits your life and plan your ideal week. So I’m sure that has to do with not burning out and being mindful of your schedule and work life balance. Email funnels; how to get web design clients; how to present and take feedback. You just got so much stuff in here. A beginner’s guide to ConvertKit. There’s just a ton in here but I think the thing I really like about this, is this isn’t one course called “How to be an awesome web designer.” Each course at its central core focuses on a problem or an opportunity. How did you get so focused in terms of dividing things up?
Erin Flynn: Well I definitely did not start that way. I had a big course that was basically when I figured everything you need to know for your web design business. It was too big, nobody, nobody completed that course. I had like 100 students and literally no one got through it.
Chris Badgett: I haven’t [inaudible 00:17:34] by the way. I call that the resource course, it is the most dangerous, deadly and lethal course for an expert to create because they can keep putting stuff in it, keep putting stuff in it.
Erin Flynn: And it just didn’t work and especially it was also really hard for me to sell because people were like, “Well I want this module but I don’t need this other one.” I was like, well this isn’t working. So I talked to my audience and I did a couple live webinars, like no-pitch webinars where I taught them how to do a specific thing and that went over really, really well. So I started with the intro packet webinar. I did it live, I got feedback from them as it was going and afterwards about what they liked and what they didn’t and then I used that as kind of the model for everything that I’ve made since then where it’s one specific problem. You can typically do it in an afternoon or a weekend at the longest. If you want to create an intro packet, you can do it like set aside Friday, you’ll have it done by the end of the day.
And it’s something very actionable that they can get done without having to be like, “Oh, I have to wait three weeks for the next thing to be dripped out or to finish this part of it.” it’s like, “No, block your time, get it done and put it into action immediately,” and that’s worked so much better for my audience because we’re all busy. A lot of us are juggling families, with freelancing and sometimes full time jobs too. So anything that really takes more than a weekend was not getting done and I just wanted to make things. I didn’t want to just sell courses and make money without seeing results from my students. I wanted to see my students get results and make improvements in their businesses. So that model worked really well and then in the membership … okay, sorry.
Chris Badgett: I jump in and say that that laser like focus on the results is so key and that’s music to my ears as well. I get the most excited about in this industry and there’s a lot of focus on things like gamification, badge and certificates and stuff but there’s also this concept of finish lines and prizes. So if you tell me that if I take this course, there’s a potential finish line that’s only a couple of days away, and by the way, there’s going to be this prize at the end, like this intro packet will be created or this piece of a marketing funnel is going to be in place, or these templates are ready for me to use, that’s huge.
I think course design or membership design, people … their finish lines and their prizes shouldn’t necessarily always just come at the very end of something massive, like get people wins very quickly along the way. So, keep going. Tell us more about the membership.
Erin Flynn: Well, one thing that I did think of while you were chatting is … so my completion rate, like I said of that big course, zero, like a big fat zero facade. But my completion rate on the individual, like the individual workshop or somebody who goes and buys just one of them, the completion rate is like 86%. I think that’s really, really good.
Chris Badgett: You should be very proud of that.
Erin Flynn: There are other people who maybe just aren’t checking off the complete section, so it could even be higher.
Chris Badgett: Because it even be higher.
Erin Flynn: Than what I think.
Chris Badgett: So, that’s just a huge improvement to go from 0% to in the 80. And then in terms of the membership, what I’ve done is basically you get all of the courses or all the workshops that I currently have out, everything except the email templates, those are separate. But you get basically everything else and then anything else that I put out while you keep your membership active. So I’ve got … I tried monthly and I wanted to have a community around it and I found that the monthly was not good for a community because people would pop in and out, but yearly and like a lifetime has worked really well because people are in it for the long haul, they’re more serious about actually making improvements in their business and they contribute to community helping others as well.
And so they get all of the workshops as well as getting a little bit of like group coaching from me as well, which really helps me see what they need in their business, because everything that I make is based on what this group tells me like that they’re struggling with and I’m able to … If something’s not clear in a workshop, they say, “Hey, what happened in this scenario or I wasn’t clear on this part, can you go back?” And that allows me to actually make sure that they’re learning what they should be learning by purchasing the membership.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. Let me dig into some specifics there. What is a workshop? Is that a course or is that something different?
Erin Flynn: Yes, so technically I think they’re all called courses because I use teachable and they just call them courses. But everything that I put out really is a workshop at this point, which
Chris Badgett: Why do you use that word?
Erin Flynn: Because a course I feel like is learning, is something you go and you learn. A workshop, you make something; you put something into action directly. So I wanted it to be clear you’re not just going to sit there and be a passive observer, you’re going to put things into action. And so, what they are now is they’re just typically one video and you have a couple that are written instead because the format works better. But they’re typically a video between 20 to 60 minutes, so they’re short and it walks you through everything you need to know. There’s no fluff, there’s none of that, you know, “let me tell you my life story,” type thing. It’s like just straight down to business, here’s what we’re going to do, here are the steps and you can pause it and you can fill out the worksheet like as you go.
But I didn’t want to break it down into like modules because then I found that people don’t complete those because they pause after a module and then they never go back, but if it’s one video, they get it done and they actually create the thing they’re supposed to create, which was my biggest thing I wanted them to do what I was teaching.
Chris Badgett: That’s beautiful. And can you define what you do for community? Is that a Facebook group or what is that?
Erin Flynn: It’s currently a Facebook group. I really would love to do something better, for all of my audience they just hang out on Facebook and getting them to move to forums, I tried that and it did not work, so it’s just a Facebook for now.
Chris Badgett: Facebook is saving the world, if you can’t … I mean there is a thing to use where people are. I mean if they’re there, I don’t know, it’s good. What about group coaching, is that a monthly like Zoom call or webinar? What is it?
Erin Flynn: So I use BeLive, it’s a Facebook app type thing where you go live in Facebook, so I tell them, I’m going to be live at this time, it creates a post a couple days before so they can get reminders and then they just hop on Facebook, and if they’re on Facebook already, which they normally are, they get notified that I’m alive, and so they can ask questions. And I typically keep it kind of related to the workshop that came out that month, so it’s somewhat on topic, but I also open it up to any questions at the end because people have joined at different times and they might have questions that don’t relate to that month’s workshop.
But that’s like a good way, because I can’t possibly serve 100 people one-on-one, and it’s a good way for people to hop on when they have specific questions and get my without them having to book like a mentorship program or something even more expensive and maybe they just have a quick question that needs five minutes.
Chris Badgett: That makes sense, and that was monthly you said?
Erin Flynn: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Chris Badgett: And are you rolling out a new course every month?
Erin Flynn: I’m currently rolling out a new course every month and I have content planned through 2018, and at that point I’m going to have like 40 courses and I’ll probably be like we’re in a slow our role and maybe do quarterly or something because at that point no one’s going to be able to get through that much content in a realistic time frame anyhow.
Chris Badgett: And I just want to highlight what you said about listening to your people and what they’re struggling with. So is that where you form new courses from?
Erin Flynn: Yeah, so and they can request courses and also … so if they have questions in the Facebook group, I make notes of that that I can make a course about and I also survey them every so often, like what do you want to learn next? What’s format is working best for you to learn from, which is why I actually did a couple written pieces of content with nobody here recently because people always say, “It’s busy, like I’m busy this time of year. I just want something I can read without having to watch.” So I did that. And then I also send out, after they’ve been in the expedition for a while, I send out a survey and say, “What do you want to learn next?” And I ask them like all sorts of questions about how they learn best, because I really do want to tailor it to my audience not just be like, “I feel like making this and then it doesn’t work for them.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome, taking a real data driven feedback approach, being a listener and just being open-minded. I think there’s so much value and you’re really setting a really good example with that. Let’s talk a little bit about the stack of coaching courses or workshops, membership … And you may want to get into live events. Before we talk about live events, is there anything else in the stack there?
Erin Flynn: I think that’s it, that sounds right. I’ve tried a bunch of different things, but yeah I think that’s current.
Chris Badgett: One of the things people explore adding to a stack, which I think you’re looking at through your live event is masterminding. What would your approach to starting a mastermind work look like?
Erin Flynn: Do you mean a mastermind specifically for my audience, or …?
Chris Badgett: Yeah. Like a live event, or would it not be a mastermind, what would you do at your live event?
Erin Flynn: Well, at a live event, how I envision that is maybe around 10 to 20 people getting together who are all similar levels of business, who can come and probably have some sort of a specific goal in mind, where they … either they want to double their revenue or they want to spend less time working, or something like that. So everybody’s very similar with their outcome and then we can talk through what works for some people and what doesn’t and come up with things that are specific, because everybody’s business is different and you can’t just say, “You have to do X, Y and Z and it works because that doesn’t necessarily work for everybody.
But I would want everybody to have kind of specific goals and probably spend like three days, where we can really dive deep into those things and see what in their business needs restructuring, because I restructure my business pretty much every time I need to, but yearly I do a big review and say, “This is not working for me from this past year and I want to try this instead.” And that takes a long time to plan out on your own, but when you have somebody else to give you feedback or somebody who’s done something similar, it can happen much faster. And I think that would be a really great way to do a live event with some specific goal like double your revenue in 2018 or whatever. Where it’s not just, “we’re all just getting together and figuring it out,” which is fine sometimes, but as you can tell by my courses and workshops is like I want something, I want them to go home like with a plan that they can put into place immediately.
Chris Badgett: Where does that focus come from for you? Or like this obsession with results and specificity? Do you?-
Erin Flynn: I think … well, in my early years of business, I spent thousands of dollars on courses that promised the world and then didn’t deliver. Even you’d follow everything in the course and you didn’t get the results that you were expecting. And I just don’t want to be a person that creates content like that. I want people to feel like they got their money’s worth, they are able to make changes and they really accomplish something instead of, “I now know everything about pricing, but I still don’t have my prices together.” Like that doesn’t work for me.
Chris Badgett: Well, that’s super good. I want to ask you some questions just around the business model. The first one is just about bringing guest experts into the fold. Why do you do it and how does it work?
Erin Flynn: I did it because I’m not an expert in everything and I will never pretend to be. There are things that I am not very strong at and I just I don’t feel right teaching, but that I’ve had requests to learn about. So ConvertKit was one of them in terms of like how to set everything up. I’ve set on my own, but I’m not going to tell people how to set up theirs because I don’t do that. So the woman that I brought in, she’s a convert kit certified expert, that’s her job, day in and day out, is she sets up people’s convert kit accounts and tells them how to do that. So I brought her in because that was something that people wanted to know how to do.
I brought in Joe Casabona to teach about how to use a Beaver Builder because I’ve used it on my website and then now I’m starting to use it on some clients’ sites. But at the time, I was like, “I’m not qualified to teach this, but he knows it pretty well inside and out.” So, because a lot of my students were coming from something like square spaces and they wanted to do WordPress to have more power, they just didn’t know how to get started. I’m like, “He’s Beaver Builder, it’s super easy.” So that was a really great for those kinds of requests where they say, “Well, I want to get started, but I don’t know how to deal with this coding stuff.
And I have other experts, and the expert things tend to be a little bit techier overall, not all of them, but because I don’t like teaching tech and I don’t like staying on top of it, I know that I can go back to Joe. Sometime in 2018 it will be like, “Hey, do you have an updated Beaver Builder thing that you want to teach people? I he’ll … that’s what he does. He teaches stuff, so it’s no big deal for him to do an update as he’s in it all the time and he understands it. So that always works better for me in terms of keeping things updated too.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. What about having a big course catalog here, which do you do more volume in or which performs better for you? A la carte individual course sales or the membership?
Erin Flynn: It is … I’m trying to think what the actual percentage split is, the membership I think is about 60% and the about 40% with individuals sales.
Chris Badgett: So some people are coming in with a specific problem, you’d be like, “This looks great, but I just need this one right now,” and then some people are like, “I’ll take it all.”
Erin Flynn: Exactly.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that makes sense. You have an annual and a lifetime option on your membership I believe, why did you put that in place and how does that work out? What are you finding with people in that?
Erin Flynn: Well, I mentioned earlier that I had tried monthly and it was not working for the community. So when I switched to annual, I knew that people are going to at least be committed for a year, they’re going to be in the group for a year. And so I really wanted to do that because it just … it felt better. It felt like this is something where I can actually help them as well as they can actually participate because if they’re just hopping in for a month, I get that. Like I totally get … getting those deals and taking as many courses as you can, like I think that we’ve all probably done that at some point. But in terms of the community, it wasn’t working for me.
And then I have a few people who requested lifetime. They said, “You know I really don’t want to pay yearly, I don’t like subscriptions, I know that I’m going to want everything that you put out, so do you have another option for this without me buying everything individually?” And that’s not a huge percentage, but I do have a few people who have been with me like for years, they’ve bought all of my courses so far and they just wanted that one time like, “Please give me everything.” So that’s why the lifetime is there for those people.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. If you do one thing like very, very, very well is listen to your customers. It’s amazing. What about just a small side note, a lot of people are interested in having a Facebook group add on or is it an up sale or whatever. How do you manage that? Like after the year goes by, somebody doesn’t renew or pay again, how do you manage the Facebook group in terms of people wooing people out or what’s your system there?
Erin Flynn: Unfortunately with Facebook it’s all manual, so fortunately, now that the monthly membership is not an option anymore, with yearly it’s not so big of a deal, because with the monthly, people would hop in and out, so I was constantly approving them and then removing them and approving them. It was kind of a nightmare. But with the yearly, is not that big of a deal, so if they don’t renew, I guess if I’m unteachable and so I know they haven’t renewed or they’ve cancelled their subscription and then they just get … I just go in and remove them from the group and it’s never really been that big of an issue because I don’t have a huge churn rate, especially now that monthly is gone.
So it’s really not too bad, but I do wish there was like … and I tried to set this up in Zapier, it did not work. They could just like get pulled out immediately, but it is a manual process now. So, if somebody is busy, I do not recommend the Facebook group option, because there’s no good way that I have found to automate that.
Chris Badgett: What do you think is … if someone’s thinking of adding a community component besides you being the expert and having his workshops, doing the coaching calls, adding new workshops over time, what does a community add that’s valuable to people?
Erin Flynn: I think the community adds other voices, and again I’m not an expert in every single thing, so people will ask about what’s the best plugin for this or how can I make this happen on a website? And I don’t know and my Google is as good as theirs, so I don’t have the experience. So if somebody else has done that, then they can explain it and get everything, help them set up and say, “Here’s an example of how I’ve done this, here’s how everything’s hooked together.” And I think getting those kind of tech things is really helpful, but not even just tech, but business things where they say, “Oh, what’s the best time to become an LLC.” Well it’s different for everybody, but everybody talks about when it was appropriate for them to become a real business, then that can help somebody decided when’s the right time for them as well.
So I think just having those different voices is really helpful because everybody’s different and everybody’s got a different situation that they’re dealing with, and I can’t be like that though all knowing Erin as much as that sounds amazing, I just don’t know everything.
Chris Badgett: That’s wonderful and for some education entrepreneurs out there, they’re either stuck in the mindset that they have to be the guru or they feel like they’re supposed to always be the expert. But sometimes as the education entrepreneur, I think the very act of creating the community, creating the space, that is what you’re doing and helping somebody else connect with somebody else and in some ways almost do your job for you in terms of “Okay, this person has a question about how to onboard a new client,” And somebody in the community gets to it before they take your course or gets to it in a different way than you did and it worked for the person, that’s fantastic.
That’s really cool and I think that’s part of the design of it all, is just in the stack is you’re just creating space and you’re also protecting space. I mean, I doubt you have to deal with much like moderation or stuff like that, but that’s part of the job of the organizer and the entrepreneur behind the whole thing. I have one more question for you, the last question has to do with how you … what do you do for marketing, how do you get new students or new members? And I can tell just by talking to you, looking at your website and how you approach things that word of mouth is huge for you. The results that your people get and just the value that they get, I’m sure it grows organically just through conversation of people who know other people in their industry who are struggling with the same problems, “Hey, come check out Erin’s site, she’s got it going on.” But besides word of mouth, what do you do to get new members?
Erin Flynn: I’ve tried Facebook ads with limited results. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m just bad at them, I probably should hire an expert there. But Pinterest has actually worked really well for me, because my audience is typically female web designers, they’re on Pinterest a lot. And they’re looking at different designs, and are looking at business things and that’s been really, really helpful in getting people back to my site and getting people to sign up for my free membership because they’re already on Pinterest looking. So I think I spend like twenty dollars a month to basically like whip my pins and bring in new people and that’s worked really, really well for me.
And then the other thing that has worked better for actually like consulting type things has been guest posting and podcast which has been interesting because people say, “Oh, I heard you on a podcast and I want to hire you, but I don’t want like your lower level stuff, what bigger programs do you have?” Which has been kind of crazy, because I didn’t have any before, and then I had to like quickly come up with some.
Chris Badgett: You’re always reacting to your audience and your … Which is amazing and just having that open mind, that’s awesome. Well, Erin, I want to thank you for coming on the show. For anybody listening out there, go check out Erin Flynn, that’s Erinflynn.com and check out her unstoppable options there. The Setting Up Camp, Client First Aid and Reaching The Summit and thank you for being an inspiration to the course building community and really laying out a lot of great ideas and concepts and talking about what’s working for you. I really appreciate it, I know the audience has gained a lot. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Erin Flynn: Yeah thank you so much for having me.

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