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Introducing Courses as a Revenue Stream

Today, I’m going to talk with Ana Reisdorf of Reisdorf Writing Services about boosting passive income through courses. If you’re in a service-based business, you’ve probably seen ads for this all over social media. I’ve always been really interested in courses, but it just seems like a hard thing to get into. Ana revealed at the end of our last episode that she sold a mini-course and earned $2,800. 

When Did You Decide to Start Doing Courses?

Ruthie: At what point in your writing business did you decide to do courses? 

Ana: Well, when I decided to do writing full-time, I also started a Facebook group called RDs Who Write. My real intention was to meet other RD writers who were ahead of me, so they could tell me what to do. What ended up happening was that I became the expert of the group because I was growing my business. 

After about a year and a half of having this group, I decided to monetize it. I was in it every day, giving people free information, talking about all sorts of topics. So I dipped my toe in with a $27 ebook, and I made $1,200 on the first day. I just remember watching Bravo at lunchtime and my PayPal kept dinging, Vegas-style. 

Ruthie: I think that might even be better than Vegas because it’s drawn out! 

Ana: I think they were just very grateful for all the free information that I had provided for all that time. 

courses as a revenue stream

Supporting Others In Our Business Network

Ruthie: As a community member, I’m totally down to support you when it comes to books and other lower-priced things like that. I have a ton of business books now. I’m a fast reader, so I will get through all of them, but I know that by making that purchase when it first comes out, it’s a boost for the person I’m supporting. 

If a really smart, amazing business owner I know sends me an email saying, “Hey, Ruthie, I’m selling this thing for $27.” I really like you. I got $27. You’re giving me a reason to spend money with you right now,and that’s amazing. 

Ana: They didn’t even want to be writers. They just were so grateful for me that they bought the book. 

Ruthie: I like that. 

Building A Course As You Go

Ana: To this day, that book makes me money. This month it’s made me $150 already. People wanted more, so I created a course about a year later. I pre-sold it to see if anybody would buy it for a lower price. I believe I sold 40, and then I had to build it because I hadn’t written a word. 

Ruthie: At least you were motivated then at that point. How easy would it have been to just say, “No, I’m not doing that right now.”

Ana: Well, I actually lost my motivation a little bit, so I procrastinated it. The whole time the course was going on, I was trying to catch up on the content. That was my own fault because I was like, “Oh, I collected the money. Cool. ”

Ruthie: I think in Jeff Walker’s book Product Launch Formula, he actually doesn’t fault the method of building it as you go. That’s because you can actively incorporate feedback from the initial modules into the subsequent modules. I mean, I know you procrastinated, but it’s a viable method. 

Don’t Launch Evergreen Products

Ana: I’ve launched it live twice. In March, I decided to put it as an evergreen product, and I sold 0. Nobody wanted it. I think that’s because my audience needs a little fire under their butts. 

Ruthie: Everybody needs that. I did a live interview in my Facebook group today. I knew people had been telling me they were going to come, but you’d have to join the group to see it. Only one person joined.

So I went into the Facebook event page and reminded everybody that they’re going to need to join the group to see the interview. I think 10-15 people sent requests to join the group right after I posted that. Initially, I think everybody was just like, “Oh yeah, I’ll just do it right before.” 

Ana: So I created the mini course and I only sold it for 2 weeks. It’s gone forever. Now I pulled the main course down, and I’m going to launch it again in September with a big bang. 

Ruthie: That sounds awesome. I have a few evergreen products myself, but I’ve only ever sold a handful. The other thing is that because they’re always there, I don’t do a good job of promoting them. If you know that there’s a deadline for you too, then you put that push forward. Based on what you’ve said, I’m going to have to reevaluate that because I know they’re good products. 

Try Setting up Presales

Ruthie: That sounds like a huge recommendation. Are there any other top recommendations you have for people who might be considering getting started with courses, especially in light of quarantine? A lot of people who provide services may be looking at online ways to make money now.

Ana: I highly recommend the presale thing. Before you put any effort into it, people are interested. Also, set yourself a number you want to sell before you move forward. And then if it doesn’t work out, you just give those people their money back. 

How Big Was Your Email List?

Ruthie: Did you have an email list before you started? We’re both in marketing. We know that email marketing is the key. If you don’t mind sharing, how big was your email list before you decided to launch your first course /ebook? 

Ana: It was more about the Facebook group. My Facebook group has 3,400 people in it now. At the time I did the first thing, it had around 1500-2000 people at most. And my email list is only about 1800 of those people, so it’s not huge. 

Ruthie: I mean, it’s huge from where I’m sitting! That’s really good, especially for freelance writers. Writers don’t really build lists, but it’s a viable revenue stream for your business. 1800 sounds huge from where I’m sitting, because I was lame and slow about the whole email list thing. I’m on it now, but I should’ve been on it already. Oh well, it is what it is. 

Ana: I like your emails! 

Ruthie: Thank you very much. Your Facebook group had about 2000 people back then, so your email list would have been smaller. That’s still really good to know. I feel like the serious business impact of Facebook is definitely in the groups now. 

How Have Courses Changed Your Business?

Ruthie: How would you say courses have changed your business? Have they changed your business at all, were they just an extra thing, or did you have to shift effort?

Ana: Well, the effort was really in the building and the marketing of it. Once the building is done, it’s just there and it’s content that you can pull from. During quarantine, I couldn’t even write a word and I still managed to bring in what I needed to cover our expenses. 

Ruthie: I hope the people listening understand how strong and powerful that is.

To have this asset to be able to say, “Hey, so maybe the full price point is too high. What can I do to still bring in money, but put it more within my audience’s current price range, with the current stresses of quarantine?” And you did. And it was with something that you already owned. 

Ana: I was inspired by Rachel Rodgers. She has a program that helps entrepreneurs go from 6 figures to 7 figures. Her program costs $25,000 

Ruthie: Get out. 

Ana: So that’s tough. Her one product is the $25,000 program and that’s it. But over quarantine, she sent an email for a $295 program. 

Ruthie: …which must have sounded really good to the rest of us.  

Ana: So I was like, “Huh. Maybe I don’t need to hold on to this program that costs $497. Maybe I can just pull out a piece of it and temporarily make it more affordable for my people.” 

How Do You Market in Your Facebook Group?

Ruthie: How did you market it in your Facebook group? I have a new Facebook group. I know that quite a few Facebook groups go dead, but we do see some really successful ones. Like the freelance writer group that we’re both in.

I would say that’s an incredibly successful group, that almost runs itself sometimes. I feel like that’s the point you really want to get to. You don’t want to feel like you’re just rattling around in an empty cage.

How do you market to your Facebook group audience?

Ana: I’m present. I go in there and I’m myself. Everybody knows I don’t pull punches. Every Wednesday I do a live from the gym parking and I talk about whatever the hell I want. It’s frequently about writing, but it can be about anything I’m thinking about that day. I think people really connect with me as a person that way. I mean, I get 20-50 comments on those lives. 

Ruthie: How long are they? 

Ana: Less than 5 minutes. 

Ruthie: If it’s only 5 minutes, then they don’t stumble upon that on accident. They know you’re going to do it and they’re waiting. I like that. 

Regularly Teasing Your New Offering In Your Facebook Group

Ana: Other than that, just being engaged and then answering every question that’s there works. I like to be the one who knows the answers. It’s just who I am.

As far as the marketing of the course goes, it was more just teasing it. Every couple of days, I’d post a screenshot of what I’m doing and things like that. I would also give them bonuses on the presale so they’ve got a lower price, and remind them that the time was almost up.

There are some things that you see other people doing, and you’re annoyed by yourself. But it works. That “one hour left” email you get works.

Change the Way You View Your Marketing

Ruthie: It does. I think it also depends on how you’re viewing what you’re offering and if you really believe in it. Looking at the psychology, people are not going to buy anything when there’s a week left to buy it.

When I saw the sign-ups for my webinar, I got the most sign-ups in the last 48 hours; definitely the last 24 hours. 

You pointed out that if you have evergreen content, there’s no deadline. But if it’s not, you will see the most sign ups for something if you remind people right before it expires/start, whether it’s free or paid.

Understanding the psychology and really believing in what you’re offering can help you be more confident. It seems like this “one hour left” email is excessive, but I’ve got people with the intention of buying – who are looking at these emails – wanting to be reminded.  

Ana: I send them, and in the morning I’ll wake up and there’ll be 4 new buys. So I’m gonna keep doing it, even if I think I’m being annoying. 

courses as a revenue stream