The Course Itself Is Less Than Half the Battle

Marketing your online course - photo of hands holding table with text "Marketing Plan"

For much of my consulting career I’ve been a follower of Alan Weiss, the Million Dollar Consultant and I can remember being struck many years ago by an assertion he made about what it takes to be a successful consultant:

You need to spend more than half of your time marketing.

This was a response to the large number of questions he got (and still gets) about what the right methodologies are for consulting. About negotiating “deliverables” with the client. About how best to handle billing. About just about anything other than actually getting the clients that would lead to building a successful consulting business.

Most of the people I encounter who are trying to sell online courses should take Weiss’s advice to heart. [Read more…]

7 Ways to Elevate Your Expertise

Whether your aim is to sell online courses, become a consultant, or otherwise make money off of your smarts, being an expert in your field or industry is certainly important. But for most of the readers here on Learning Revolution, that’s already a done deal. They are experts. The bigger challenge right now is how to become known as an expert.

known as an expert - compass with needle pointing the word expert

Believe me, this is familiar territory for me. Most of my work – and by extension, my income – is heavily dependent upon me being known as an expert – and that has to be based on a heck of a lot more than me just saying I’m an expert (which, of course, anyone can do).

Become Known as an Expert: 7 Focus Areas

So, with the hope that it will be of some help to readers here, I thought I’d share seven areas I focus on to make my expertise more visible. For my money, anyone who really wants to be known as expert – and increase the chances of pulling prospective customers to them – needs to be doing at least some of what follows. [Read more…]

Benefits of blogging. Or, is your blog the asset it should be?

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The benefits of blogging are huge.

If I had to name the three things I’ve done over the years that have enabled me to break free from working for others and create an income and lifestyle based on my own terms, consistently building e-mail lists and speaking – whether at conferences or via digital channels – would be number two and three on the list.

But number one – by a long shot – would be blogging.

That may go against what you hear in other places. Blogging just isn’t as trendy as it once was, and truth be told, I don’t spend quite as much time on it as I once did (more on that in the future). But when I reflect on what has fueled the success I’ve had to date, it’s clear to me that nothing else has been as big a factor.

There are at least three huge benefits of blogging.

1. Blogging Develops and Showcases Your Expertise

The first is that if you blog consistently and do it reasonably well, you will build a body of work that showcases your expertise.

The market for online courses and other knowledge and learning products increases daily. If you expect prospects to fork over money in exchange for your expertise, then you need to demonstrate your expertise clearly and work to elevate it over time. A blog is one of the easiest, most straightforward ways to do this.

Writing blog posts helps you to develop and focus your expertise and figure out which parts of what you know are most valuable to your prospective audience (through Google Analytics, comments on your posts, and tracking which posts gets shared the most, just to name the most obvious options).

The feedback you get as a result of effective blogging is invaluable for ensuring that you ultimately develop the right offerings for monetizing your expertise.

As a bonus, the content you develop for blog posts can very often become content that you use in other offerings, including courses and books.

In fact, I encourage you to think strategically about blogging as a way to create larger offerings. Create an editorial calendar that is essentially an outline for your course lessons or book chapters and use it to guide your blogging over the course of weeks or months. By the time you are done, you will have made a huge leap toward creating your course or book, and you will have valuable content posted on the Web that will help bring people to you.

Which leads to my next point.

2. Blogging Gets You Found In Search Engines

Building a body of high quality content is also your ticket into getting found on Google and other search engines.

You can spend all sorts of time trying to figure out the latest and tricks for search engine optimization, but the one factor that has remained consistent over many years is high quality content. Write content that people find value and publish through a highly optimized distribution platform like a blog, and you will be found.

There is a good chance, for example, that you got to the Learning Revolution site originally because you found this post – which drives thousands of unique visits per month – through a search engine. (This entire site, by the way, is built on WordPress – the world’s most popular blogging platform – using StudioPress.)

Now, in most cases, simply publishing a blog post isn’t going to drive huge amounts of traffic to you over night. It will take time, and along the way you will need to pick up some basic knowledge about topics like search engine optimization. But if you keep at it, you will build a major asset for your business, one that will help make it sustainable by driving search traffic to you over time.

3. Blogging Puts You In Control

And that leads me to my final point: your blog is a powerful point of conversion, one you totally own and control.

This is a key reason I don’t advocate betting too many of your chips on platforms like Udemy. They can be valuable parts of your marketing mix, but you really need a home base where you call the shots – including how you price your course – and control all of your valuable data – like customer e-mail addresses. That way, no matter what course platform you use – or switch to in the future – you won’t lose any of the valuable Web presence you have built up over time and that is critical to long-term, sustainable online business.

A blog-based Web site, built on a platform like WordPress (free, open-sourced software), is almost always your best bet, whether you are looking for e-mail sign-ups, social shares, or e-commerce sales. WordPress, in particular, is very flexible and offers any number of plug-ins to help you accomplish just about anything. Really, it is a full-blown content management system, but at its core, it has some of the best blogging capabilities available.

Upping Your Blogging Game

One of the inspirations for writing this post was that I noticed that Darren Rowse over at Problogger had launched a “new incarnation” of his 31 Days to a Better Blog challenge. 31 Days to a Better Blog is completely free (though Darren does also offer a related paid product) and there’s no telling how many people it has helped. I remember following along way back in … hmm, 2007? … when I was building my first blog, Mission to Learn. No one knows blogging like Darren.

(The “new incarnation,” by the way, is that 31 Days is now being delivered as a podcast, one of my favorite channels for content.)

I encourage you to check out the 31 Day challenge podcast.

Jeff

Photo Copyright: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo

3 Valuable Resources from My “Do This Now” Folder – Marketing Edition

Do It Now

One of my personal “best practices” is to keep a “Do This Now” e-mail folder of tips and techniques that can help me grow my business. When I find something really useful and actionable, I e-mail it to myself, put it in that folder, and then act on it as soon as possible. (I also don’t let the folder grow beyond 10 items – at that point, something has to get done and removed before anything else is added.)

Naturally, many of the tips I collect are highly valuable not just for me but for anyone trying to sell online courses or other educational experiences, so I thought I’d share some recent items that I found very valuable. These cover three areas that I think are essential for effectively marketing educational products (each of which I cover in Leading the Learning Revolution): blogging, e-mail, and Google Adwords.

Here you go:

[Read more…]

Boost Your Brand and Rocket Your Reputation with Dorie Clark

Dorie Clark - Branding Expert - PhotoWondering how to really stand out and create long-term customer loyalty in the competitive market for lifelong learning, continuing education, and training? Building brand and developing a rock-solid, trustworthy reputation have never been more important, and few people know more about how to do these things than my guest on this episode of the Learning Revolution Podcast: Dorie Clark.

Dorie is a branding and marketing expert who shares her insights regularly in well-traveled channels like the Harvard Business Review blog network and Forbes. Her new book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future – the focus of this podcast – was published by Harvard Business Press Books. Her most recent book – definitely relevant for anyone visiting this is site –  is Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It.

I knew Dorie was just the person to talk to when it came to exploring how education businesses – from training firms, to associations, to individual subject matter experts – can better manage their presence and impact in the market place. Listen in for some great insights and practical tips on how you can boost your brand and rocket your reputation.

Listen to the Podcast

Podcast: Play in new window | Download | iTunes

Show Notes

00:42 – Get the podcast on the free Instacast or Stitcher Radio apps to download or stream it to you mobile phone or tablet without having to connect to your computer to sync.

[Read more…]