Episode 47

How to Start a Location Independent Digital Nomad Business with Online Courses

Do you dream of making a living from home? You can be a digital nomad like Tim Ferriss describes in his book The 4-Hour Workweek. In today’s LMScast Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett outline from their own experience how to start a location independent business with online courses.

You run a location independent business from wherever you are – at home, on the beach, or while traveling the world. The key word here is “business,” because you must provide value that people will pay for to generate income. Fear of failure keeps most people from doing it. What kind of business could you successfully build?

One option is to create and sell online courses using an eLearning development tool like LifterLMS. Your greatest hands-on involvement is in putting the courses and system together. After that is done, you automate maintenance, marketing, and sales through the software. Then you can be minimally involved while your courses generate passive income.

There is work, time, and a lot of hustle involved. These activities can seem daunting, but the 4-hour workweek is undeniably a compelling idea. The impetus is the realization that you can do everything differently.

The first step is to form relationships and build an email list of people who share the same interests as you. After enough interaction with those people, you will be able to create courses they want to take and are willing to pay for.

Next, learn all you can about business, eCommerce, and website design. The more you learn, the more you can do yourself. You shouldn’t have to pay someone else for the services you need until your business really starts to expand. Once you have all that down, you can start creating your first course.

Pre-selling your course is a great way to get started with customers ready to buy. A proven method is to offer a pilot course at a discounted price to a select group of interested students. The fact that you are only accepting a limited few will generate interest. Your benefit is that you will learn from that test group how to build a better course and work out the rough spots before you present a fully developed course. They in turn will have your attentive focus.

Starting out this way you can realize $1,000 to $2,000 profit each month. Maybe not enough to quit your day job yet, but your earning potential will increase as your email list grows. The first course you complete successfully also builds your proof of concept, as well as your confidence.

Being clear on why you are doing this is crucial. What do you want to accomplish in your life that your current work situation prevents you from doing? What would your daily life look like if you had a more flexible schedule working from home, or from any other place you might rather be? Having that mental picture is highly motivational.

If you are having trouble deciding on the kind of course you want to create, look at courses that are already working at sites like Udemy. You will find lists of topics ranging from general to niche subjects. In fact, offering a niche interest course can be the best way to start.

The most important part of establishing your location independent business is finding something that excites you enough that you are eager to share it with others. Our LifterLMS course development platform is designed to help you build your courses quickly and intuitively so that you can focus on your students and your subject. You can try a demo of LifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Joshua: Hello everyone, we’re back with another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage, and I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett, and today we’re talking about how to start a location independent digital nomad business with online courses. Chris, you are quite the digital nomad. Let’s kick it off for us. How do you do this?

Christopher: Well, I think it’s important to define like what the terminology means, and they’re kind of related. Location independent business just means you can run it from anywhere.

Joshua: Right.

Christopher: Digital nomad is kind of taking into another level where you are like traveling around your country or the world while you run your business, so that’s the digital nomad part.

I’ve done that before, it was like web agency work. It really doesn’t matter where I am. I spent last winter in Costa Rica. I was working with you for a while when you were in Thailand last year. That’s like the location independent part and nomadic while traveling, that sort of thing. When I was in Costa Rica, I didn’t stay in one place. I was in the rain forest, and then I was on the beach.
The important part of this terminology here is also the word business. It’s one thing to like travel and be on tourism and that kind of thing and vacation, but business is where you’re still adding value and creating income for yourself and your company while you roll around. That’s what it’s all about. Online courses is a great way to create a business that is location independent, that does allow you to be a digital nomad and travel the world.

Joshua: Yeah. I think like the cool thing about my life, and I’ve kind of reached the location independent digital nomad status, but I’ve done it with a web agency, and the challenge there is that it’s not as hands off as online courses, and I don’t want to say that online courses are hands-off or even …

Christopher: They can be. They can be.

Joshua: They can be. That’s more what I want to allude to is that you don’t have to engage at the level that I will engage when I start to do some of my courses, but you can. I think it’s really interesting to me to think about doing more and more courses. I have one project which is around Paleo cooking and food, and I really want to go and dive deep into that, and then I have another one that’s just more personal branding that I haven’t even really started, but talking about fear and entrepreneurship, and it all starts with building a community of people and then creating something that they want to purchase.

There is a whole methodology. I mean I think the first thing if I would break it down for people would be, first things first would be take the time to really build relationships and build that email list. I mean even if you can get a 100 people on an email list, the success when you launch a course is like 10X of what it would be if you just launched it without anything, because you have the people that you’ve engaged with, but that takes time. That takes a lot of hustle, and I think a lot of people who want to live the kind of suitcase entrepreneur lifestyle or vagabond lifestyle, they don’t understand the work involved in that. Like I don’t know why, I think there are lot of people who read The 4-Hour Workweek, and they don’t see any work in that whole entire book.
For those of you who don’t know, it was a fundamental just changing, life changing book for me. It kind of like pulled the scales off my eyes in terms of I was on the typical conveyor belt progression of life, like get the undergrad degree, get the master’s degree, find the wife, have kids, buy the house, buy the car, get the dog, pay for their education, and so forth and kind of move up the scale. That book said, ah you could do things differently, and so I did.

Dramatically I jumped out and went to China, worked in manufacturing for a while, wound up sick, and I didn’t really have much of an option and had to figure out something to live, and so on my parents’ couch, I started my consulting company, and it started first things first educating myself with online courses. Second, started building relationships. I think if I could do it all over, I would actually flip that. I’d start with building relationships. Once you have the relationships, and you have some sort of education about how to execute a business and build certain things like a website and what not, and all that stuff is available for free online. You don’t need to go pay anyone to do the basics. To be honest with you, the pay should come at the more advanced levels. Then you can start thinking about building a course, and I think one of the most powerful things that you can do is go through this progression that I learned, and I’ve executed a million different ways, not a million, a handful of different ways, and it’s always worked, and that is pre-sell your course.

Lot of people have a mental block with this, like how do I sell something that doesn’t exist? That doesn’t seem right, it doesn’t make sense to me. It does take a lot of grit because you can walk an unethical line. Like if you pre-sell something, and you don’t let everyone know that you’re pre-selling, I do think you can get into some pretty shady things, but the way I do it is, I say, hey, I’ve had a lot of requests for people who want me to build a course on X,Y, and Z subject matter, and I’ve been resistant to it, so I’m playing kind of the reluctant hero.

I say what I’m going to do is I’m going to offer a four coaching spots, and I’m going to coach four people for a month, and out of that I’m going to build a course from what I’ve learned from working with these four people. What I do is I actually for the people who sign up to be coached, they’re getting a lot of special attention for one, and you’re playing on a lot of different triggers. You’re playing on scarcity, only four people or ten people, whatever you want to do. Only certain amount of people are allowed in, and there’s like this early investor narrative, which a lot of people know, especially if you’re in the United States. There’s this idea if I get in early, it’s going to be better for me.

If I invest in the company early, it’s better for me. If I buy a certain type of car earlier, generally I’m going to get a better deal. Like for instance, I bought a Scion tC the first year it came out, and I got a way better warranty. Then like three years later, the Scions were probably a little bit better cars, they worked their kinks out, but the warranty wasn’t as good. That is just like this like underlying things like as an idea that if I can get in early, I will benefit. Our LifterLMS VIPs, they have not paid for anything outside of their license for LifterLMS. I mean they’ve gotten everything for free, and we’re rewarding them for taking action early.

You reward this group for taking action early by giving them focused attention. You give them the course that you create when it’s created afterwards, and you have kind of a laboratory to create your course. Then once you create your course, you just launch it to your list. This is like the abbreviated version, but you take this progression to heart. I’m breezing through it in 10 minutes here, but you can create a business that average estimations of income, I mean you could at least start out with something that’s allows you to have at least the 1,000 or 2,000 dollars extra cash per month, and that will start you on a pretty good progression. Then, you’re at a point of scaling, which really comes back to creating more relationships. Yeah, sorry for the ramble Chris, but that’s …

Christopher: That’s good stuff.

Joshua: It’s been the way that things have worked for me, and so I want to make sure I share that with people.

Christopher: That’s awesome. Well just to give you guys a couple of tips on how to start a location independent business and become a digital nomad with online courses, there’s a couple things just to keep in mind. One is like Josh said, an extra 1,000 or 2,000 dollars a month can be a good goal. You don’t have to like flip a switch and immediately quit your job or do drastic change. Like try to get some traction and get the confidence, and then you can focus on scaling and maybe if you want to do exclusively online courses for your income, but I recommend not just like quitting your job and being like I’m going to go and create a online course or membership or a BuddyPress course for a social network.

Take your time, get some proof of concept like Josh said, pre-selling is good. You can ease into it basically. The other thing is to get really clear on your “why.” For some people, it might mean sitting on a beach somewhere with passive income landing in their bank account. For other people, it might just be being able to work from home with your kids. It’s not like just because you become location independent or a digital nomad, it doesn’t mean you have to travel the world and create courses while you fly around the world, although that’s terribly possible, but for some people your “why” is really important. Maybe you just want to be able to have the flexibility. Let’s say your parents are getting old, to be able to be have that location flexibility to move around and be with the people you care about. So get in touch with your “why.”

The other is the lot of resistance people have is like, what kind of course can I make? I think one of the best places to go to get ideas is actually like one of the big course market places like Udemy. Just go there and browse around. You’ll see some major topics like introduction to entrepreneurship, but you’ll also see some really niche courses about like, I’m just making this up, but like jewelry making for Turquoise, or something like super specific. I would encourage you to actually start with something really niche specific. Yeah, those are just some three tips to help you get going to start building your location independent business, and it gets you excited about the opportunity to becoming a digital nomad with online courses.

Joshua: Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Well until next time, we’ll talk to you then.

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