If you’re venturing into the world of content and social media, you’ve probably seen many, many people offering courses online – how to leverage Pinterest to grow your mailing list, how to do this and sell that and, yes, how to offer your own course efficiently and successfully (there are courses in just about anything being offered, really – but this is my world, and thus, these are the courses I mostly come across and pay attention to).
Not all courses are created equally.
Even so, without fail, most people are using and selling a fairly identical formula – and often, the same information. You’ll sign up for a free download or introductory webinar by giving away your email address, and until you finally fork over some money or unsubscribe in frustration, you’ll be bombarded with emails daily – somewhere in there might be something useful, but the rest will be full of exclamation marks and “I’m offering a discount for 12 more hours!” One of these people even sent me nine emails in one day. I made use of their unsubscribe reason survey that afternoon. I don’t usually bother, but that one warranted my response.
Don’t be fooled. You’ll still need to work hard (even if it’s from a beach in Mexico).
Additionally, no matter what course it is, it isn’t going to take you from 0-60 upon its completion unless the teacher and the information put some really good gas in your tank. That nicely-toothed person in the photo who claims they’re making thousands a month just by smiling on the internet? It’s because they’ve put in hours upon hours upon hours of ambitious trial and error, studying, learning SEO and social hacks, listening to and recording videos and podcasts, setting up Mailchimp, segmenting their lists, setting up auto-responders, scheduling content curation and sponsored Facebook posts, and on and on and on. Having all this in place to continually generate income is the eventual goal, but it’s a hell of a drive to get there. Among all these road maps is one you can read. Follow it, and go from there.
Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe.
I am still a sucker for the free download that may help me with a bit of advice (201 SEO tips? Sign me up!), and in my earliest days of putting Abundant Content together, I signed up for every other one that “suddenly and mysteriously” started appearing as a sponsored ad in my Facebook feed. My inbox and my sanity suffered for that, though I learned a lot and eventually I became more strict about how long I’d suffer, and/or how much I’d let someone (or their segmented Mailchimp auto-responding) pester me on the daily.
I’m strong about unsubscribing (hey, i’m hiding behind the mask of the internet just like anyone else); i will totally snag that 10 page PDF you busted your butt putting together just so i could freeload it and you might, might be able to convince to remain on your mailing list (here’s a hint no one’s seeming to take yet: leave me the heck alone, at least for a couple of days, and your chances on that increase tenfold).
You gotta find your peeps.
Once I started to follow the cascading effect of people who learned how to make and sell a course teaching others how to make and sell a course on how to turn yourself into a brand and market the crap out of it by making and selling a course teaching others how to make and sell a course (got that?), I was able to begin narrowing my focus to a select few, and to seeing their instructions through from start to finish. I’m working my way through a short list these days.
None of them are cheap by any means, but they offer a ton of resources for free, they’re transparent and honest, and they speak my language. That, too, is also of huge importance. You gotta find your people. Maybe you like the former Conde Nast girl in heels and a socialite suit, kickin’ it with Oprah. I don’t own a pair of heels, and I don’t know a salad from a dinner fork. I kind of need to see a mom of three with blue hair making it in the business world, or an intelligent, accomplished young woman who calls us all (herself included) ninjas. Or yeah, that one with the great haircut and floofy floral dresses who’s out to help “heart-centered hustlers” – these are the ones talking to me right now. Who’s talking to you?
Do your research before you spend a dime.
By all means, do your research before investing in anyone’s online product. Check out every single thing they offer for free. Ask them detailed questions, personally, and see how they respond. Google the crap out of them, look for and ask for reviews from others who’ve taken their courses. Lurk on their professional social media accounts. You’ll be able to get a sense of their knowledge and legitimacy, and the online world makes things extremely transparent. Social proof will provide you with all sorts of hints and leads and people to talk to.
Read the fine print.
Recently, my officemate signed up for what she thought was a $27 online course with an associated “app” for planning your own courses and e-book offerings from start to finish. She misread that copy and woke up the other morning to find out they’d just charged her an additional $500 for an “annual app upgrade”.
She, of course, was livid and searched through every single bit of their documentation she could find online. It still wasn’t clear to her, but thankfully they explained that the $27 she paid was for a 14 day trial, and the actual app cost $500. They kindly refunded her money, but more than likely they are now also making some edits to their copy.
Like everything else, it really comes down to gut feelings and common sense.
Who you choose as a teacher is completely up to you. Obvious things like “teaching by example” are fully at play here, so if you’re taking a course on how to hack social media, it should be easy enough to see if your potential teacher has actually hacked social media. Honestly (and please don’t hate me for saying this) it could boil down to something as silly as what they call you: i completely love being called a ninja, but being called some stranger’s “bestie” while they’re asking for $1100 of my money? I just couldn’t deal, despite learning a lot of really valuable information from her free webinar.