I spent most of last year creating an online PR course. It literally took me from January through to September to create it and September to December to launch it.
I sold it to 12 people. 12. Those 12 sales just about covered my costs to create the course but they certainly didn't pay for the hours and hours of time I'd invested in creating it.
Of the 12 who bought it, I'm not sure anyone completed it, even when I ran a bonus Publicity Challenge, guiding and motivating them step by step.
Was it a crap course?
No it wasn't. If they had followed the course they would have learnt a huge amount about how to get in the press. They would have generated publicity for their businesses and had an ongoing content plan to keep rolling out stories to the press, in social media and via blogs and newsletters. Some of the course participants did manage to achieve press coverage regardless by diving on the opportunities I sent their way. I wanted to give them real value and I believe I did.
But here's what I learned. People - even with the best of intentions - don't have time to stick to a course unless it is for an immediate and pressing need. (I'm bolding that just in case you are thinking about creating a course yourself - remember this!).
When I wanted to learn how to create an online course, I bought a course that taught me how to do it. I followed it and completed it because I had set myself a clear goal to get it done. But had I just liked the idea of creating a course but not been committed to doing it, I wouldn't have completed it. Because it took a lot of work! In fact I've recently wasted money on a Facebook advertising course because it all got too complicated and time consuming to the detriment of the rest of my work. Lack of time, lack of a real need and a big financial investment are going to stop people buying your stuff.
What I realised is that while my course was teaching people how to do PR, what they really wanted to know was how to do a specific thing that they needed at a specific time. For example, if they are about to launch a new product and need a press release, they want to learn how to write a press release. Or they might have spotted a press opportunity relevant to them but they don't know how to respond to it. Or they might even have got in the papers but now aren't sure how to make the most of it.
Each of these are specific problems they are facing at a very specific time. They don't have the time to go through a whole course just to get the answer they need right now.
So I've been ignoring my course all of this year, feeling disheartened and unsure what to do with all that hard work that I did last year. Do I keep pouring money into it, advertising it and hoping that people will buy it? Frankly, I didn't have the heart (or money) to keep doing that. Here's what I've done instead:
I've created Campfire Coaching.
I took the modules in that course and reworked them. I made each module answer the specific questions I was hearing from people about how to do a particular thing. And I turned them into short 30 minute videos with downloadable cheat sheets or workbooks to help them do the thing they need help with. I have also priced them so that they are £30 or less except for the first video - How to get publicity effortlessly.
(That particular video is £45 because anyone who watches it and implements the very simple steps I tell them, will get in the press with almost zero effort. I show exactly how I got into Top Sante, Healthy, Good Housekeeping, Psychologies, Telegraph and BBC in this video. I believe it is hugely valuable and people I have delivered this training too have said the same. If you do no other training on how to get publicity, do this one.)
Here are the direct links to the various coaching modules:
On top of these coaching modules, everyone is also welcome to join The Campfire Club - my Facebook group - for free. So you can get even more advice and support there.
I intend to add to the Campfire Coaching section of my site with other short training modules on a variety of topics - e.g. how to write great web copy, how to create a USP, how to write blogs people want to read and share, how to create and run a Facebook group, how to write newsletters people want to read and respond to, or how to create a content calendar. I'd love to know what you need the answer to. If I can answer it, I will make a training video for it. Leave me a note in the comments about what training you'd love.
Please do go and check out the brand new Campfire Coaching section of my website. If you order any of the coaching modules between today and 30 November and use the code: CampfireCoupon at checkout, you will get 10% off.
If you're a parent, summer holidays have either started or will be soon. Even if you're not, summer is typically a quieter time for businesses as everyone heads off to the beach or drinks their bodyweight in Pimms while burning sausages on a bbq.
This quieter period is a brilliant time to catch up on the big projects you've been planning on doing but haven't had the chance to get to yet. Things like giving your website a makeover, or changing your business direction, plotting out new products or services, creating new marketing campaigns or comms plans for the rest of the year.
While others are sunbathing, you can be plotting out the rest of the year so that come September you are ready to roll!
Some ideas to use the quieter weeks well:
Here's how I can help you over this period:
Clarity - if you want to change your business in any way, whether that's new packages, new clients, an entirely new direction, new messages, I can help you get the clarity you need. I recently helped Juliet, a coach, restructure her packages. This is what she had to say:
"I just wanted to say that I've had time to go through the summary doc in detail and love all the ideas, the ones we discussed and the new ones. And the angles you've suggested for the copy. I'm now in the process of restructuring my services and creating new material. Argh so much to do, but it's fun too and am feeling a lot more positive about the future of the business."
Copy - if you need fresh copy for your website or any of your marketing materials - perhaps a job lot of blog posts or newsletter content for the next few months, I can write this for you. You can lie on the beach while I take care of the words you just can't seem to find. Return to a heap of new content all done for you. Here's how I helped a nutritionist, a new product and a life coach find the words they needed.
Communication - if you are finding it hard to come up with regular marketing updates, I can help you either with one-on-one coaching, or by spending an intensive day with you planning, brainstorming and training, or by writing you a communications plan that you can roll out. Here's what a producer of babywear said after I had a one-on-one strategy day and wrote her comms plan:
"I found the session very useful and feel like you managed to put into words what the brand stands for. I also think we nailed who the target consumer is. Thanks so much for the comms plan and for all your work – looks very comprehensive! I will start reading this evening – excited to get started with it!"
Publicity - a quiet period is also a good time to learn a new skill. So whether you want to spend just £49 and 75 minutes listening to my PR Masterclass on how to get in the press fast, or you want to get an in depth understanding of how to get in the media on an ongoing basis with my Publicity for Solopreneurs course, use the time wisely! I also have a PR Firestarter Kit that gives you the tools to get your story out to the press with minimal effort. Summer is quiet for media too and they are always on the hunt for good stories. Use the lull to get fabulous publicity.
I also have kids on holidays so will have less time available to me so get in touch ASAP if you want my help with any of this before I get booked up. Email me.
Many people think that getting publicity is difficult. That it takes a lot of time and effort and planning and writing press releases and calling journalists….
But it doesn’t have to be. You simply need to know where to look and how to respond to opportunities that arise.
Take this example I had recently.
A freelance journalist was writing an article for the Telegraph Small Business section about business values. She put out a request on Twitter using the hashtag #journorequest, saying that she needed to interview people on the subject.
So here’s what I could have done:
Here’s what I did:
Subject line: Business Values (so she would know which feature I was emailing her about)
Let's look at that a little closer:
She replied and said:
This is brill, thank you Melissa. Am hoping to include.
A few days later she sent me the text she would be including in her article, so that I could fact check it. I did. I also said this in my reply to her:
One more thing – not sure if you need an image for this piece, but I've attached two. Both were taken at my Campfire Retreat where I helped small businesses get clear on their business values while demonstrating my own values of freedom and adventure via the setting.
By offering a picture, I was potentially making her life easier. And if it was used, it would give me a bigger focus within the piece. Publications often need images to bring stories to life, so by offering one it can save the journalist and picture editor time.
A week or so later, the article appeared. You can read it here.
What's great about it?
You can get in the press very easily if you know where to find the opportunities and how to respond to them. Hopefully this post will have given you some pointers (like looking at #journorequest on Twitter for a start), but if you want more tips, I have a series of bite-size coaching videos that will tell you where you can find press opportunities (not just on Twitter), how to respond to them, what kind of stories the press want, how to create news, how to work with the press – and a whole bunch more including plenty more real life examples to learn from.
Take a look at the different training videos here.
Incidentally, if you want help figuring out your brand values as per the article mentioned, check out my Clarity package.
I can't wait to see you in the press.
If you set yourself the goal to get publicity in 2017, then this is your moment to make it happen!
PR, publicity, getting in the press - whatever you want to call it - is one of things that most small business owners would love to get. There's something about seeing your business featured in a magazine or newspaper or leading online site that makes you do a crazy happy dance. Because it reinforces that you've made it! All those hours you've poured into your business, and now it's recognised in the press. And that's just one reason getting publicity is great. Here are a few more:
- It massively boosts your credibility
- It lets a far bigger audience know about your business
- It brings in sales
- It positions you as an expert
- It opens up new avenues
- It reinforces your brand story
- It's free!
But despite all of those benefits, most small business owners don't bother trying to get in the press because they don't know how to do it and it all seems too difficult. It's not. If you know what to do.
I have created a course specifically for people like you that will:
I know that its easy to get beguiled by a course, buy it and then never do it. So I have created the Publicity Challenge. Without charging anything extra for the course, if you buy it before midnight on 22 January 2017, you will get:
So if you would like to join in the challenge, go to www.publicityforsolopreneurs.com.
Are you in? I would love to have you join me and I would love to see your business get the publicity it deserves. SIGN UP
A final note for Virtual Assistants: If you are a VA and have been looking for an additional revenue stream, offering PR as a service for your clients is a great option. Using the techniques outlined in this course, you can apply them to your clients, get them in the press and charge them for this new service. The course will pay for itself once you've got your first client signed up.
Before I start - if you're a scroll to the bottom type person and just want the immediate answer - I'll save you the scrolling hassle. Here's the link you need to click to get the help you need to create an online course.
For the rest of you, let's continue:
Earning passive income is the holy grail for many entrepreneurs. Selling what you know as an online course instead of trading your time for money has huge appeal. You can literally earn money while you sleep.
But while there are countless internet marketers out there telling you how you can make 6 figures and live the dream, is it actually true? How hard is it? Are the numbers they're quoting turnover or profit?
I recently launched my online PR course - Publicity for Solopreneurs. It was a HUGE learning curve for me so I thought I would share what I did, what kind of results I got and some tips if you're thinking about doing this too. I am going to be revealing my actual numbers - not just of sales, but what it cost me to make the course - so that you get a very realistic idea of what's involved. SPOILER ALERT! It's not a 6 figure sum.
Why am I sharing all this confidential info?
Because I strive to be the exact opposite of all the fake success stories out there that leave mere mortals feeling like they're failures. Like air brushing photos to get rid of wrinkles, too many people air brush the truth from their launch success stories. So that's not going to happen here.
Ready? Let's do this.
How I got started
I knew that I wanted to earn passive income. I have a deep knowledge of how to do PR. I knew I wanted to create a course using that knowledge. But I didn't have a clue where to start.
In fact, I had created a course once before, hosted it on a rubbish platform and sold exactly one. (Incidentally, the one person who bought it went on to get amazing press coverage reaching half a million people off the back of it - so I knew what I was selling worked. I was just selling it wrong.)
I recognised that to do this properly I needed help from an expert. As chance would have it, I saw an ad for a free cheat sheet on how to create online courses. So I signed up.
That got me into David Siteman Garland's sales funnel for his course Create Awesome Online Courses (CAOC). A course about making a course. Ironic.
After watching his free video series, he seemed to know his stuff so I decided to take the plunge and buy his course even though it cost $997 (£659 at the time). Sometimes you just have to put your hand in your pocket and pay if you want results. Incidentally, the fact that his sales funnel was effective (it worked on me) and it's what he teaches you how to do too when you launch your course, gave me confidence that it was worth investing in.
Laying the foundations
The thing about buying a course, is that you actually have to do it. So I got stuck in because creating a course was my number one priority for 2016. I began in February by doing market research on what people really wanted when it came to publicity and getting in the press. In CAOC David tells you how to test whether your course idea is a good one and then how to name, price and position your course. It also outlines what type of course content works best and how to plan it all out before you get started.
When I had tried to do this on my own in the past, I skipped all three of these steps and just moved straight to step 4: creating the content.
If you are planning on selling a course, you really do need to do this work first to avoid being very sad down the line when no-one buys it.
In my previous course I thought I was ever so snazzy having some downloadable PDFs and even audio of me reading the PDFs. Sigh. That's because I had no idea how to create videos of my course materials. But I learnt how in the course. Here's what I invested in to make it happen:
Building a website
You may think that after creating all that course content that the hard work was done. But no. That is just the beginning. Now I had to figure out how to get the course online so that people can buy it and access it, without the rest of the world seeing it.
Again, CAOC explained exactly how to do that. There are several ways but I chose a platform that David and his team created (a clever upsell from him but one that was worth every penny). It taught me how to build a wordpress based course website including all the complicated bits like payment systems and membership plug ins. (Cost £330 - this is an annual fee).
Marketing and launching it
So now that you have your course finished and online, you think you can sit back and enjoy it right? Wrong. This is where the REALLY hard work starts. Yes seriously. With my previous course, I got to this point. I had made the course and stuck it on someone else's third party platform and then quietly said: 'Hey everyone, I've got a course. Come and buy it.'
And funnily enough, no-one did. Ok. One person did.
The trick is to build a list. In CAOC you are taught how to start building a list by having a freebie. You then need to keep talking to the people on your list to show them that you know what you're talking about (incidentally, you can be doing this in the background while you are doing all the previous steps).
Once you are ready to roll, you have to create a launch sequence with a series of videos, which then opens up the sales page, which then only stays open for a short period. David goes into all of this in his course.
I found this the hardest part. It requires you to automate your newsletter system and create opt in pages. It was at this point that I decided to outsource and get some technical help. It was money very well spent as it took my Virtual Assistant a few hours and it would have taken me weeks. So my costs for this were:
When I started this process I had 350 people on my mailing list that had been grown entirely organically. By the end I had 750 - so I managed to add 400 people. 750 is still a very small list size for a launch.
I was disappointed in my Facebook ad conversion and I think this is a really challenging area - but it's an area that is new to me so I need to keep tweaking and adjusting it moving forward.
Let's recap. So far I had spent £2600 roughly on getting this course live. Some of the costs - like Convertkit, Leadpages, Wistia, Screenflow and the microphone - I use for other elements of my business so it's slightly unfair to say that they are exclusively for this course, but without them, I couldn't have created the course so they are going into my costs.
I sold the course for an early bird price of £379. This was a ridiculously low price given the amount of content in the course but I wanted to ensure I had some sales. (According to CAOC, pricing low is a no no but I was scared to go too high. Notice the word scared - because launching a course is a scary business so you need to put your big girl pants on).
I sold 8. Total sales of £3032. Profit of £432.
Now given I had worked on this for 7 months, making £432 (which is less than what I charge for one day of my time) doesn't seem like a successful endeavour. Right? I felt like a big fat failure. And you might be thinking that creating a course is a stupid idea.
I went onto the private Facebook group for CAOC users and told them my tale and here is what I was told:
Professional online sellers who have been doing this for years typically get (at most) a 2 to 3% conversion from their mailing list. The fact that I sold 8 off my list of 750 means I had slightly more than 1% conversion, which for a first attempt is actually really good. I was also told by countless people in the group that their first launches achieved far lower sales. But they now make 6 and 7 figures, simply by tweaking and adjusting and learning. The trick: Don't give up. This is just the start.
Here's one example of the many, many comments I got in the Facebook group from fellow course creators:
And so that is what I plan on doing. I am continuing to follow the course advice on what to do once I've launched, how to create an evergreen sales funnel and how to provide excellent value to the people who did buy the course - all of which I am doing.
I have done the hard work. Now I have to rinse and repeat.
So if you are considering setting up an online course, here are my top tips:
I know many of my clients have heaps of knowledge, which they could sell as a course but they don't know how to. You could be a cake maker, a soap maker, an HR expert, a yoga instructor, an accountant, an excel expert, a child-care guru, a hypnotherapist, a B&B manager, a writer, a cleaner - whatever you do or know, you could turn that into money. And now you can learn how to do it.
Make 2017 the year you stop selling your time for money. It's time to grow!
If you have any questions at all about my experience of going through this, drop them in the comments below or ask over on my Facebook page.
PS - if you missed my Publicity for Solopreneurs course, hop over here to get my free guide and video series, plus access to the course.
In September I launched my online course - Publicity for Solopreneurs.
Next week I am going to share my actual results from the launch and my learnings from it, but first I want to share why I even bothered to create a course in the first place.
Perhaps creating a course isn't something you've ever considered. Or perhaps you have but thought: 'I don't know how', so didn't take it any further. But I want you to know that you should consider doing it and you can learn how to do it. There are opportunities and course ideas everywhere.
Just last week I was talking to my cleaner who had won a listeners' choice award in our local area. We got to chatting about where they could take the business and we discussed a franchise model. But really, most cleaning franchises (in my experience as a customer) tend to charge customers more and do a job that is less good. And becoming a franchisor is a BIG intimidating step for a sole trader.
So I said, 'If you want to grow your revenue but are limited by how many hours you can physically work in a week and don't want to manage an ever increasing staff contingent, why not create a course and sell it?'
I could see the 'Huh?' in his eyes.
I explained, 'Well you guys do a great job cleaning. And I bet there are loads of people out there who could clean and make some money but don't know how to start finding customers or how to do a good job or manage payment etc. You guys could take all of your knowledge of starting up an award-winning cleaning business and sell it as a course that other potential cleaners could buy. You make passive income without working more hours.'
I could see the cogs start whirring in his brain. I was onto something.
You see as long as you know something and have some experience or knowledge, you can create a course. So why would you want to?
Here are the five top reasons why I created an online course - perhaps they'll inspire you:
Having the freedom to spend my time they way I wish is hugely important to me. If I want to go watch my kids at an all day rugby tournament, I want to be able to do it. If I want to take two weeks to climb Kilimanjaro and go on a safari, then I don't want anyone telling me I can't. Heck, if I wake up and decide I feel like lying in my PJs eating dry cereal out of a box while watching 'Say yes to the dress' on repeat, then try stopping me. I want the freedom to live life on my terms. But I also want to make money. That old chestnut. So making a course was a way for me to earn money while retaining my freedom.
2. Stop trading hours for cash
This links nicely to point one. It's not just about being free. Even if I could care less about being free, I still only have a finite number of hours in any given day. To make more money, I need to either never sleep or I need to charge more and more and more. And eventually I will price myself out of the market. The only way to stop trading your hours for cash is to find an alternative. That alternative for me was a course.
I want to be able to grow. I'm not talking world domination here. But I want my revenue to be greater than it would be if I just sold hours. And I want to reach more people. With an online course, you can sell it to people around the world. They don't have to be local clients.
4. A sense of creating something
I have spent my entire life helping clients grab the limelight. I help them win awards. I get their products and services in the press. They are creators of things and I have always felt like the person who helped them promote their thing, rather than being a creator of things myself. So making a course meant that I was creating something that I could call mine. It is an asset. I've have literally taken the knowledge I have in my head and turned it into something I can sell for money. And that is cool.
5. To help small business owners get publicity
I believe that when small business owners do their own PR, they get the best results because they are building direct relationships with a journalist, rather than going through a middle man. Yet I see many small businesses paying a fortune for PR companies and getting no results, or who just avoid doing PR because they don't know how to do it. I wanted to teach them how they could get amazing publicity really easily if they just learnt the basics. So my course had a 'bigger than me' element to it too.
So there you have it, my top five reasons for creating an online course. Next week - as I said - I will share my actual figures and learnings from doing this, but if you are interested in learning more about this topic, I suggest you sign up for David Siteman Garland's free video series that is out now. It that will take you through some seriously in-depth training on how to create an online course.
I bought David's course on how to create an online course and without it, I couldn't have done it. But for now you don't have to buy anything. You can just get some fabulous free training. I learnt so much from his training and it put a fire in my belly to get this goal of creating a course done. This time last year, I was watching his training. A year later, I have launched my course. Which means this time next year, you could have launched a course too.
Here's the link to the training again. In the comments, why not let me know what course you'd create if you could and what your number one reason for creating it would be.