$12k/month Evergreen Online Course Funnel

When I got started with online courses I tried just about every "guru" strategy out there from SEO to Pinterest to posting on Instagram and Twitter multiple times a day.

I did ALL THE THINGS that I thought other people were doing to get people to buy their courses, but I ended up with low course sales and income that was wildly unpredictable.

That's when I decided to try something different. 

Within four months I was able to take one $97 course and scale it up to over $10,000 a month in revenue using ONE simple automated funnel. Here are screenshots from my SamCart account for each month so you can see the progression. 

Month 1: November 2017

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Month 2: December 2017

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Month 3: January 2018

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Month 4: February 2018

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Month 5: March 2018

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Okay, for some of you, $10k a month might not be that big of a deal. But I know for most people just starting out, $10k a month is a REALLY BIG DEAL. So I want to share exactly what I did to quickly growing my course sales month after month. 

1. Stop doing ALL THE THINGS

Blogging, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Groups, SEO, Snap Chat... AHHHHHHRGH! The list goes on. 

This is what we are told we NEED to do to "grow our audience." And those things can help. Maybe you get a lot of traffic from ONE of these sources, and if so, that's fine. Keep on doing what your doing. 

But the best thing that I did, was to STOP doing all of these things and focus on creating JUST ONE FUNNEL that actually worked. 

 

2. Create an "Educational Journey" 

Sending people who don't know you DIRECTLY to a sales page DOESN'T work (at least it didn't for me.)

People need to get to know you BEFORE you ask for a sale.

Formats that work well for this are: 

  1. Free mini courses, 
  2. Challenges, 
  3. Workshops, and 
  4. Educational video series 

These formats give people a chance to see you in action. Potential students can get a feel for your personality and teaching style before they buy (which reduces your refund rate). And you get a chance to show people what you actually know, which boosts your credibility as an instructor. 

Your customer journey should always include these 3 things:

  1. Tell people who you are and why you are qualified to teach on the subject.
  2. Educate people on the BIG problem that your course solves. 
  3. Solve a SMALL problem that gets them one step closer to solving the big problem that your course solves.

You can also highlight how your product has helped others, or the results that others have achieved from working with you once you get into your sales sequence, but I've found that people do not like to be sold to during the pre-launch phase when they are still getting to know you. 

I use a free 5-Day Challenge that provides loads of value upfront. I include tutorials, action assignments, accountability check-ins, and the ability to interact with me. 

 

3. Automate, automate, automate

This will save you time so that you can work on other things like creating/improving your course, interacting with your students, or (gasp!) relaxing. 

I automated my educational "Challenge" using ConvertKit (to capture emails and send automated email sequences) and Teachable (to drip video content out over 5-Days -- and to deliver my actual course.)

Personally, I can't recommend these two resources enough.  However, you could use any other email automation provider/course platform that you like. 

 

4. Don't be afraid of paid ads

The entire first year I was in business I REFUSED to use paid ads.  I was determined to get all of my traffic FOR FREE because I had a VERY limited budget. 

Here's why that mindset is bad for business...

Paid advertising makes your monthly income more PREDICTABLE. 

Relying on social media, SEO, and "word of mouth" will keep your income in flux, which will keep you struggling month after month. 

If you want to see profits faster, start experimenting with paid advertising. 

I know it can be scary to pay for advertising, especially when you have a limited budget. That's why it's important to start SMALL and SLOWLY scale up so that you can collect DATA along the way. 

I knew what my potential students were searching for online, so I created a blog post on a topic I knew they would be interested in. Then I used Google Ads to target keyword phrases that were related to the topic of my blog post. 

Note: I started by spending just $5-$10 a days on Google Adwords. Once I saw that my funnel was working (i.e. I was earning more than I was spending) then I started to increase my daily ad spend a little bit each week

Within the blog post I included a signup form so that people could sign up for my free Challenge which led into a sales sequence for my full course at the end.

This worked well because I wasn't trying to pressure people into signing up for something. I was respectful and chose to provide valuable information on a topic I knew they were interested in without the expectation of them doing anything for me in return. If they decided they wanted to learn more from me, I simply gave them an opportunity at the end. 

I was really skeptical that this would work because this approach is so indirect and non-pushy, but 62% of people who viewed the blog post signed up for the 5-Day Challenge. 

Leadpages® - Leadpages 2018-03-27 14-49-26.jpg

 

5. Know Your Numbers!

This is REALLY important. In fact, it's almost impossible to become profitable without this piece.

4 numbers that are CRITICAL to your success: 

1. Sales Conversion Rate (find it by dividing leads by sales -- then multiply by 100.)

For example, if I get 100 people to sign up for my Challenge and I end up selling 6 courses, my conversion rate is 6%.

2. Revenue Per Lead (find it by dividing total sales revenue by total number of leads.)

For example, if 100 people sign up for my lead magnet and I end up earning $5000 in total sales, my revenue per lead is $50 per person. 

3. Cost per Lead (find by dividing total amount spent on advertising by total number of leads.)

For example, if I spend $1000 on ads to get 500 leads, my cost per lead is $2. 

4. Profit per Lead (find by subtracting cost per lead from revenue per lead.)

For example, if my revenue per lead is $50 and my cost per lead is $2, then my PROFIT per lead is $48. 

Your revenue per lead will tell you how much you can spend on advertising without losing money. That's why it's so important to track your numbers. I track all of my numbers on a weekly basis so I can closely monitor how my ads are performing.  

Once you start collecting data you'll quickly see that becoming profitable is nothing more than a simple math equation.

 

FREE Live Training

7 steps to launch your own profitable online course

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My bizarre method for creating online courses that sell amazingly well

When I set out to create my first online course it took me FOREVER...

I spent months agonizing over the topic. 

Then I spent a few more months wondering how long it should be, which platform I should use, how much I should charge, you know, all the things we waste time on...

Then it took another couple of months to get up the courage to get on camera (maybe you can relate?)

Then there was the editing. So much editing. 

Then, after all of that, I had to figure out how get it in front of the RIGHT PEOPLE so that I could sell the darn thing.

I made a few sales, but...

I quickly found out the hard way that the course I created wasn't EXACTLY what my students really needed. 

Sure, it had a LOT of information. But they kept telling me that they wanted something different. 

So I had to go back to the drawing board to not only create a course that my students actually wanted and needed, but to create a course creation process that was more efficient and more effective. 

I had two goals:

  1.  I wanted to be able to create courses MUCH FASTER and stop wasting time, and 
  2.  I wanted to get feedback from REAL STUDENTS to help shape the course content so that I didn't have to guess about what to include in my course.

My problem in the beginning was that I thought that I had to create a gigantic, super comprehensive course upfront so that it would be just be done... and perfect... 

But the thing is...

That's not the right way to think about course creation.

That's actually a recipe for disaster. 

Your courses should evolve to fit your student's needs over time. 

The method that I'm about to show you kills multiple birds with one stone because:

  •  It allows you to test topics very quickly, 
  •  You get feedback from real people so you don't need to guess about what to put into your full course, 
  •  You get social proof and testimonials that you can use to promote your course and make more sales (yay!), and
  •  This method actually creates your marketing and promotional materials for you at the same time. 

Here's how it works:

  

Instead of spending months or years creating a course that I have no idea if people will buy or like or whatever, I create a "concept course" first. 

If you've ever heard of a "beta course" this is a similar idea, but it's different. 

While a beta course is typically a full course that is being tested before being launched, a concept course solves a very specific problem that is related to the main topic that you want to teach. It is NOT a comprehensive course on the topic. 

You can think of a concept course as a mini course, a workshop, or a challenge that has a very specific purpose or solves one problem. 

For example, if I ultimately want to teach a comprehensive course on dog training, my concept course might focus on teaching one specific trick or command. 

The idea here is to run people through your concept course to get critical feedback -- because this is going to tell you what you should do next. 

Here are a couple of questions that your concept course should answer:

1) How much interest is there in the course topic?

This is good to know, because if no one is interested, there's no point in wasting time creating a full course. Instead, you can pivot or come up with a different idea to test. 

2) What are the goals of your target student (in their own words.)

It's really important to understand the underlying motivations, needs, and desires of your students so that you can create a learning experience that gets them the results that they really need. 

3) What do your target students want to learn more about?

When students go through your concept course, they will naturally ask questions about things that were not covered. You can use this information to decide what to include in your full course.

4) What common common questions are being asked? 

This is super important to understand because, when we know a topic well, we tend to gloss over things that WE think are obvious, but might not be so obvious to someone who is learning. 

Using this method allows you to create online courses that your students actually want and need, rather than spending a whole bunch of time creating something that was doomed to fail from the start. 

It removes a lot of the risk and helps you to iterate and refine your ideas much faster, which leads to succeeding much quicker. 

At this point you might be thinking --

"Okay, I see the potential, but this seems like a LOT of extra work." 

I promise you, it's not. 

 I've come up with a way to test my "concept course" ideas before I create any content at all.

If you would like to see exactly how I set all of this up, click the button below to let me know and I'll put together a free tutorial to share all the nitty gritty, step-by-step details with you. 

This step ^^right here^^ should give you a big clue about what happens next :)

Can you guess what it is?

2018 Teachable Review

(The Good AND the Bad)

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Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission of you click through and make a purchase. 

 

I've been using Teachable to host my online courses for about three years now, so I thought I'd share some of the things that I love about the platform, and some of the things I think could be improved. 

If you're not familiar with Teachable, it's an online software program that allows you to create and sell your own online courses.

Teachable is very similar to other independent third party course platforms I've tried, like Thinkific. However, it's not an online course marketplace like Udemy.

I'm sure you're much more curious about what I DO NOT like about the platform, so we'll start there...

However, I do have plenty of GOOD things to say about Teachable. I've been able to grow my online course revenue to over $12,000 a month on this platform, essentially on autopilot. So make sure that you read about all of the GOOD things this company has to offer online course creators as well.  

Also, make sure you check out the time limited bonuses at the end of this post :) 

 

The Bad

 

Downside #1: Getting your money 

My biggest complaint about the Teachable platform is that you have to subscribe to their $99/mo Pro plan if you want to have immediate access to your course revenue. If you are on the Free or $39/mo Basic Plan you have to wait six to eight weeks to get paid out from Teachable. 

When you are just getting started and trying to bootstrap your online course business, having immediate access to your funds is essential. I know for me personally, I would roll all of my course revenue back into paid ads to pay for traffic so that I could continue to grow my course profits month after month. I wouldn't have been able to to that if I had to wait two months to get paid out from Teachable.

To be fair, the reason why Teachable does this is because they offer a 30 day refund policy on all courses purchased on the Free or Basic plan. They hold all course revenue for 30 days and then they pay you out the following month.

I have no issues with offering a refund policy personally, however, I'm not a fan of Teachable requiring that people offer a refund when they are paying for an account.  If this were limited to the free plan only, I would feel a lot better about it.

Now, if you are on the $99/month Pro plan you get to connect your own payment gateways (PayPal and/or Stripe) and your funds will be paid to your directly instead of having to go through Teachable's payment processor. 

Bottom line: if you plan on selling more than $99 worth of courses in a month, I'd highly recommend upgrading to the Pro plan because it will give you instant access to your funds and you won't get hit with extra "transaction fees" so you actually get to keep more of your money. 

 

Downside #2: It's hard to FIND the free plan. 

I love being able to "try things before I buy" so being able to set up a free account to tinker with was a big deal to me. But here's the thing, if you go to Teachable's pricing page, this is what you see ... 

As you can see, the FREE plan is not highlighted here. If you want to try out the service for free you need to have a REALLY good eye. There is a link to sign up for the FREE plan at the bottom of the page, but you have to look for it. 

I don't want to sound too entitled here.  I'm grateful that they offer a free plan at all. They certainly don't have to. I just wish they would make it easier to find. 

I'm sure that Teachable has a good reason for "hiding the ball" so to speak. Maybe they've tested this in the past, but I'm a big fan of how Thinkific really promotes their free plan BEFORE promoting their paid plans. 

For comparison, here's the top section of Thinkific's homepage. 

 

Downside #3: You can't fully "white label" your school.

One of the major reasons why many course creators choose Teachable is so that they can have more control over their online business. While it's true that Teachable gives you nearly complete control over your marketing, course content, pricing and how you communicate with your students, there is one little drawback: they don't offer fully "white labeled" schools. 

When something is fully "white labeled" it means that there are no logos or references to the software company on your site. 

When other companies' logos and URL's are present on your site it can cause confuse your customers.

For example, imagine you're buying something on Amazon, and they all the sudden, when it's time to checkout, you end up on some other site that you don't recognize. It can feel a bit sketchy.

The most noticeable place where this is an issue is with the roll out of "My Teachable" accounts. 

What's the issue with "My Teachable" accounts?

When Teachable first launched, students were required to create a new account for every Teachable hosted school that they signed up for. 

This was fine because it meant that your students had a specific account for your school only. 

In an attempt to streamline the process for students who may end up enrolling in more than one Teachable hosted school, Teachable came out with "My Teachable" accounts that gave students access to all Teachable hosted courses that they were enrolled in regardless of whether they were taught by the same instructor or not. 

Here's what the login looks like for my Audiobook Tutorials school that does NOT have the MyTeachable feature enabled: 

Ultimate Teachable Review: The Good & the Bad — The Course Geek 2018-04-09 16-00-36.jpg

 

Here's another school that has MyTeachable turned on...

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As you can see, if someone goes to sign in or sign up for the "Idea Babies" school, they are going to see quite a few references to "Teachable" which is not my brand, nor it it something that my students are likely to be familiar with. 

That is really the extent of the "bad." 

Now let's talk about what I LOVE about Teachable

 

The Good

 

Love #1: It's an all-in-one solution

You could theoretically run an entire online course business using Teachable for free. This might not be the best choice for everyone, but it's definitely possible. 

Teachable comes complete with:

  • a full content management system for all of your videos and course content,
  • integrated sales pages that allow for one-click upsells, payment gateways to give your students the option of paying upfront or subscribing to a payment plan, and
  • a messaging system for emailing your students, 
  • you can also create blogs and individual web pages right inside your Teachable school, 
  • AND you can even set up your own custom URL for your school. 

If you wanted to perform all of these functions WITHOUT a platform like Teachable you would need: 

  • A website or blog
  • Credit card processing 
  • Video hosting
  • Course or membership software
  • an email service provider
  • Etc. 

Now, obviously many people do choose to have a separate website or use more advanced email management services, (I prefer ConvertKit myself) but the point is that you actually don't NEED all of that stuff if your goal is to create a course for free. 

 

Love #2: So easy to use. 

Everything from the signup process to creating your school is incredibly easy with Teachable. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's one of the easiest software platforms that I've ever used. I've tested similar course platforms like Thinkific, New Kajabi, Udemy, and Podia as well, but Teachable was by far the easiest to get the hang of. 

Once your inside of your Teachable account (free or paid), there are a number of helpful resources waiting for you. 

 

You can sign up for Teachable's free weekly live QuickStart Webinar (highly recommended). This will walk you through the process of setting up your school and creating your first course inside of Teachable. 

Or you can jump right in to creating your first course or customizing the the look of your school. 

Teachable also has an extensive "Knowledge Base" full of tutorials and answers to commonly asked questions. If you get stuck at any point, you have immediate access to the knowledge base right from within your account. 

Love #3: Unlimited Everything! 

Even if you are on the free plan, there's no limit to the amount of videos you can upload or courses that you can create. At first glance, this might not seem like a big deal to you, but if you've ever tried storing your video on a service like Vimeo or Wistia, you know that video bandwidth fees can add up fast. 

 

Love #4: It's Built to Scale and Grow 

There's no limit to the number of student accounts that you can have on your school EVEN IF YOU'RE ON THE FREE PLAN!!! 

Regardless of whether you are just getting started with your first group of students, or whether you have thousands of students in your course, Teachable doesn't charge you more for additional student accounts. It's built to scale as you grow your online course business. 

 

Love #5: Drip Courses

Want to release your course modules over time? It's possible with Teachable. Studies have shown that releasing content over time helps keep your students engaged and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed by too much content all at once. 

You can set a specific date that you want your course to start or you can set the course to "evergreen" mode to release modules on a schedule depending on when a student enrolls. This feature is available on Teachable's Basic plan and up. 

 

Love #6: One-Click Upsells

Want to maximize your course revenue by offering relevant add-on's during the checkout process. Teachable supports it. I've seen everything from additional courses, templates, workbooks, or even 1-on-1 coaching offering as an upsell on the Teachable platform. The sky is the limit. 

 

Love #7: Payment Plans, Subscriptions & Coupon Codes

Want to offer a payment plan for your course? You can do it with Teachable. 

Want to create recurring monthly revenue by turning your Teachable School into a membership site? You can do that too! 

You can even offer different coupon codes to your students to give them access to various discount levels on your course. 

 

Love #8: Supports Affiliate/JV Partners

Want to work with affiliate or joint venture partners to get more students in your course? Teachable let you set assign affiliate links to your JV partners, track sales and even pays your affiliates out for you. 

 

Love #9: Advanced Customization

If you sign up for Teachable's Pro plan you can customize almost any aspect of your Teachable School through the "Power Editor." You can also add additional functionality through Teachable's Zapier integration. 

If you are on the free or basic plan, you still have the ability to change the look and feel of your school, you just won't have access to the advanced code editor. 

 

Love #10: Bonuses!!!

Teachable has oodles of data on what it takes to create a successful course because they get to see behind-the-scenes of the thousands of schools that have been built using the Teachable platform.

Instead of keeping all of that info to themselves, they've created a bonus course called "The Profitable Teacher" that walks you through the entire process of creating and launching a successful course. For a limited time, they are giving this course (as well as several additional bonuses) away for free to anyone who signs up for a paid Teachable plan (even the Basic plan.) 

As you can see, no platform is perfect, but there's a lot to like about Teachable.

Thanks for checking out my review!

 

Read Next: Udemy vs. Teachable for Creating Online Courses

Switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit in 4 easy Steps

Email marketing is the lifeblood of your business. If you're an author, course creator, or business owner of any kind, you need a way to collect contact information from potential customers, readers or students so that you can communicate and build a relationship with them over time. 

Like most new business owners, you probably wanted to spend as little as possible because, let's face it, every dollar counts. You found out that you could collect email address with Mailchimp for free and that sounded like a pretty god deal to you at the time. 

But as time went on you started to feel limited in what you could do with the service. Trying to figure out how to do things that should be simple became a frustrating task that ate up hours of your time. Since Mailchimp counts subscribers multiple times if they sign up for more than one of your lists, you quickly hit your "free" account limit of 2,000 subscribers. 

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I went through this growing pain last year when I started getting serious about growing my online business. So I started looking for alternatives. Aweber seemed like a decent option, but I quickly ran into many of the same limitations that I was trying to get away from by leaving Mailchimp in the first place. 

I looked at half a dozen other services like Ontraport, Active Campaign, Infusionsoft, etc. and they seemed really complicated and EXPENSIVE! 

I needed a platform that was easy to use on my own without hiring an expert to get me up and running, but that had some of the more advanced features that the more expensive platforms had like the ability to create automation rules, deliver multiple lead magnets, and segregate my list so that I could custom tailor my marketing messages. 

That's when I found ConvertKit

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With ConvertKit you can create unlimited forms, automated sequences, standalone landing pages, live broadcast emails, and easily organize your subscribers using tags and segments. Best of all, you don't get charged multiple times for having the same subscribers on multiple lists like Mailchimp does. 

Their automation rules are sophisticated enough to allow you to create custom automated sequences that include or exclude subscribers based on certain criteria. For example, in my online course business, once a student purchases one of my courses, I can set up a rule that will prevent them from be bombarded by more sales emails for the same course. If you don't do this, you'll annoy your current customers pretty quickly and that's never good. 

Once I saw what this platform could do, I was sold. 

My next step was to figure out how to make the switch from Mailchimp to ConvertKit. I felt a little nervous about doing this at first, but it was easier than I expected. I'm going to walk you through each step that you'll need to take in this tutorial. 

Step 1: Create Your ConvertKit Account

The first thing you'll need to do is set up a ConvertKit account. You can get a 1 month free trial if you use my referral link. It doesn't cost anything extra for you, but I will receive a small commission if you use my link. Every little bit helps! This offer isn't available publicly so make sure you click the button below to get it!

Get started by creating your account. Just enter your email address and choose a password. 

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Next, you'll be asked to enter your billing information. Don't worry, you won't be charged until after your free 1 month trial ends. If you decide you don't like ConvertKit after trying it, you can always cancel your account before your trial is up and you won't be charged anything. 

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If you don't cancel your trial membership, you'll start getting charged for the service in 30 days. ConvertKit is $29 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers. If you have more than 1,000 subscribers you can view the different pricing tiers here

Step 2: Create Tags in ConvertKit for Each of Your Mailchimp Lists

In Mailchimp you organized your subscribers into different lists. 

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You can see in the example above that I have three different lists that I will want to import into ConvertKit, so I'll want to create a tag inside ConvertKit for each one so that I can keep them neat and organized when I switch them over. 

You can create a tag in ConvertKit by first going to the "Subscriber" menu.

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Next click the "+Create a tag" link at the bottom of the right hand column.

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You'll see a box appear where you can type in the name that you want to assign to the tag or category of subscibers. 

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Once you create your tag, it will appear in the tag list in the right hand column of dashboard.

Step 3: Export Your MailChimp Lists

Now it's time to log into your Mailchimp account and export each of your lists. 

Navigate to your "lists" page and click on your first list. 

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Next, click on "Export list." 

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Choose, "Export as CSV." 

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Mailchimp will send you an email with your exported list attached. You'll need to download before you continue. 

Step 4: Import Your CSV File Into ConvertKit

Now that you have downloaded your list from the email that Mailchimp sent you, head back over to ConvertKit and click on the "Subscriber" tab. 

Next, find the button that says "Import Subscribers" and click it. 

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Next, click on the option that says "tags" and then choose the tag that corresponds to the list that you are importing from Mailchimp. 

In my case, I'm importing "List #1" and so I want to click on the tag that says "List #1" that I already created. In Step #2. 

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Next, you'll need to drag your CSV file that Mailchimp sent you via email to the box that says "Select or drag-and-drop a CSV file." 

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And that's it! Just repeat the steps for each of your MailChimp lists. You can view your complete list of subscribers by clicking on the "Subscribers" menu at the top of your dashboard. You can view your individual lists by clicking on the tags located in the right hand column of the Subscriber page. 

ConvertKit makes it incredibly easy to import, export and manage your contact lists. 

Would you like to learn more about how to use ConvertKit to grow your online business? 

I'm putting together a FREE ConvertKit Masterclass that will walk you through the entire platform from creating simple forms and landing pages to planning complex email sequences and automations. 

 FREE ConvertKit Masterclass coming soon!

FREE ConvertKit Masterclass coming soon!

The free tutorial is almost done. If you'd like me to send you an invite to the masterclass, just click the button below and enter your name and email. 

If you have any specific questions about ConvertKit that you'd like me to cover in the free masterclass, leave a comment below and I'll do my best to make sure you get an answer!

How to Grow Your Online Business with Audiobooks

How to Grow Your Online Business with Audiobooks

Audiobooks are an incredibly effective way for authors to reach new audiences, connect with their fans in a more intimate way, increase their book’s visibility online, and boost revenue. But here's the thing...

But audiobooks aren’t JUST for authors.

I’m willing to bet that if you’re a blogger, podcaster, speaker or online course creator, you probably haven’t given much thought to expanding your reach and growing your brand through audiobooks. Maybe you thought audiobooks were only available to authors? Maybe you just haven't considered how audio fits in with your particular business? 

The myth that I want to crush right now is the idea that audiobooks are ONLY appropriate and beneficial for traditional authors. 

Udemy vs. Teachable for creating online courses

Udemy vs. Teachable for creating online courses

In this post I review both Udemy and Teachable and dive into the top 10 criteria that I think are the most important to new course creators who are bootstrapping their online business, working with little to no budget, and/or don't have a large following or email list. 

Keep reading to find out which platform I found to be the best for selling online courses.