I’m Molly! I’m super excited to share with you guys my top takeaways that helped me to grow a successful online course. Because of that course I was able to do things that I never really thought were possible.
I was able to “retire” my husband from his job at a school district where he worked in the basement in a windowless server room. I traveled Europe for a month with some friends, I even brought my mom along for some of it!
Because I was able to grow my course to $2 million per year and make all this happen, I’m excited for you because I know the potential!
So get your pen and paper out because we are going to get to work. (This is a bit of a long post, so if you prefer to watch a free training that goes over the same stuff, check it out here)
7 years ago I may have been in a place similar to where you are today. I was a hustling business owner that was putting in a lot of hours and was feeling a bit burned out.
Are you feeling like that?
I was driving all over the state to shoot weddings on weekends, weekdays were shooting boudoir and portraits, and my nights were spent running the business, marketing, financials, and so on… You get it I’m sure.
My desk was filled with caffeinated beverages (an actual photo of my desk years ago). All nighters were a common occurrence for me.
Then one day it started catching up with me. I was laying in bed one night and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.
I felt like I was having a heart attack, so my husband rushed me to the hospital!
After hours of tests they concluded that it wasn’t a heart attack but rather a panic attack. If you’ve never had one before I can tell you this.
It is terrifying.
I knew something had to change, I couldn’t keep pushing myself harder and harder. I needed a way to grow my business WITHOUT trading more of my time and health for money.
It wasn’t that I didn't love my business, I did. It was quite successful. I won the best photographer award in the city for multiple years, I was featured in the local newspaper for my photo business. I was taking home multiple six figures, had a beautiful studio, amazing clients, and it was fun!
But I had been at it for years and although it was profitable and fun I knew if I wanted to build true wealth and true FREEDOM something had to change. I couldn’t keep putting in long hours. Especially when I thought about my future… It was time for my business to take the next step but I didn’t know how.
A few weekends later I had a booth at a women’s business conference promoting my services and taking photos. I met a woman there and we became fast friends to this day. I shared with her how I was hitting a ceiling, burnt out, and needed a way to build TRUE wealth and freedom in my life. I needed to move on from being tied to trading my time for money.
She told me how she could totally relate. She had a full time job AND a freelance business. But she had recently found this thing online called “online courses”. She explained that they were kind of like a workshop but they lived online so people could enroll at any time, the students work at their own pace, and I just had to record the course and each student could learn from the recorded course without my direct time. She then shared that within a few months her course was so successful that she was able to quit her job and only do her side hustle when she wanted.
She did all of this at home in her PJs.
I knew this was the answer to my problem so I raced home to research it more.
Once I saw the power of online courses, the freedom they bring, the wealth that can be grown and how you can impact people at scale - I was sold.
I went all in and my first PROFITABLE course brought in $70,000 in 7 days! … and unlike other gurus this was a course for artists doing what I did. Not a course on how to make a course!
Now I have over 7 years experience building courses in different niches AND now I’m helping my students do the same.
So what would you do with $70,000?
Join masterminds with your business heroes?
Retiring your husband?
Before we get to that, there is something I skipped over just now...
So that story I just told, it had a small but important caveat. That was my first PROFITABLE COURSE
That wasn’t my first course and it is important to know the real story. Because there are a ton of people who claim to be overnight successes and hide the stumbles along the way.
I don’t want you to think that success comes easy. It doesn’t. It takes hard work, sacrifice, and lots of failures along the way that need to be turned into LESSONS!
I also don’t want you to think that I got lucky, had special privileges, had loads of money, or some high up guru helped me for free until I made it.
So let's talk about my first course. It was called Boudoir Business Camp. I paid a ton of money to a guru and followed their traditional launch method.
They gave me the typical advice of “Just choose something you are passionate about!” so I did!
I followed their instructions and spent MONTHS building the course, following and planning and executing my launch. I followed their instructions exactly to the letter. All this work I put in, the hours I grinded and the extra overnights ON TOP of running my studio (which was already putting me in the hospital due to panic attacks)... It was building up to this one moment. The massive launch when I would reap what I had spent months sowing!
The Day came! The Launch was here!
… and the numbers came in!
It was a massive flop.
I ended up wasting almost a YEAR building a following, building the course with expensive softwares (PLURAL), and launching this thing. I spent $10k on the assets they told me I needed to launch.
So not only did my course flop, I lost months of work I could have been putting into my studio and lost almost $10k of my hard earned money.
So this is exactly how I felt about gurus and launching after this experience.
You sit on a throne of lies!
So, what was the difference between the failed launch and my $70k in 7 days course?
It was my Profitable Course Kickstart Framework.
You see, the first time around I listened to the Gurus and honestly I believe their advice is not only outdated, but also slow moving, enormously risky, and expensive.
I knew there had to be a better way!
I had all these marketing techniques that worked great with my photo business. So I decided to try and apply them to kick starting my course. After putting it all together the end result was my Profitable Course Kickstart Framework.
It is focused and effective. There are only three components to it.
That is pretty much all you have to do to have a profitable course.
That said, there are a couple caveats. This won’t work for everyone. The secret is that this builds off of your existing skills. So if you are a small business owner, professional, freelancer, coach, consultant, content creator, speaker, author, or have a full time job doing something you can teach others… AND you have a passion for what you do, then this is for you.
If you have only read some Gary V books, watched some Tony Robbins videos on YouTube, and want to teach mindset while never actually putting anything into practice successfully…
...Then this probably won’t work for you and a traditional launch method may work better as you have a lot of work to do before being ready to sell anything.
Let’s back up a bit and take a look at the “old way” of doing things, otherwise known as Launching.
Launching consists of a few core components. First you are going to need a website to host your launch assets. Then you are going to need to hire a copywriter to write a sales page for you (If this isn’t your first rodeo, then you might be able to do this yourself… but I’ve been doing this for 7 years and my best sales page is nothing compared to what a good copywriter can make for me.)
Next you will need a graphic designer to get all your graphics, branding, and everything looking pretty. They will also be in charge of making all of your course assets look good as well.
Then you will need the tech software like email marketing, course hosting, maybe social media scheduling software, payment software, et.
This all comes up to around $9,215 (at least this is what I spent on my first launch).
So big deal right? $9k doesn’t sound that bad when I see people making six figures from launches all the time on social media! Well here is the dirty little secret. Next time you see someone post those impressive launch numbers see if they show you revenue or profit.
Except the math doesn’t work out most of the time.
Let me break it down for you. In addition to that 9k in assets you also spend $2k in facebook ads at $5 a lead (assuming you absolutely killed it with paid traffic) and you end up with 400 registrants. The industry standard (and personal experience) tells me that 30% will show and 5-10% of those will buy. Say your course is $997 that would yield you $7,976 cash at the end… Which sounds great right? But let's not forget to subtract all the $$ from the assets you bought to do your launch. You just ended up $1,239 in the hole.
Not to say that launching won’t work, but it isn’t the best way to start off your course PROFITABLY.
So, we know the old ways of launching your first course do not really yield a profitable course. What can we do?
I use my Profitable Course Kickstart Method.
To get started you will need a few assets. All of these are free. First you are going to need google drive, a paypal account, a facebook account (or social media of your choice), and a Canva account.
The secret to building a profitable business from the ground up is to start profitably. It sounds simple but it is so true once you understand that principle.
With this method you won’t need fb ads. You will be using facebook to build a community of people that are interested in your product. If you are a food truck operator and are building a course on how to run a food truck, make a group for food truck operators. Just keep working on that group until you get to around 300 members. Post some good content, give some value, and get to know them. This should be a fun process, you are building a group of people that love the same things you love!
While you are building that following, fire up Canva and start building some simple assets for your course and put together an outline using my post it power hour method. Don’t spend too much time here though. The biggest mistake I see is people branding and rebranding themselves because they are scared of the next step. DON’T! If you want to build a profitable course you are going to need to sell. You probably won’t feel ready to sell right away (which is why I like to teach people to start selling immediately once they have their idea, else they will spend months avoiding it).
Now that you have a group of people in your group that know you, like you, and have learned a bit from you, it is time to SELL! Start out selling people a beta round of your first draft of the course. Have them check out on your free paypal page and add them to a “members only” group. Teach your course based off of your post it power hour LIVE. Interact with your students. Get feedback. Learn. But make sure to get them results.
Say you do all of that. Now where are you compared to launching?
Well for $0 you probably sold around 5% of your group. At a price of $997 that is almost $15,000.
But wait! There’s more!
You also have your first draft of your course done and delivered. You also have invaluable feedback from your first students to make your second version of your course even better.
And you have TESTIMONIALS from people you have served!
How cool is that?
I hope you found this post valuable. A lot of hard earned lessons went into building this framework and I hope that my mistakes and missteps help you to avoid some of your own. If you want to find out more about my frameworks, I host a free training here. I also have a great facebook group where I share what I’m working on and tips and tricks of the trade. Join that here.