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«Build a Business Around Paid Courses and Membership Sites Chris Garrett & Jerod Morris TRANSCRIPT BUILD A BUSINESS AROUND PAID COURSES AND MEMBERSHIP ...»

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Obviously, it’s very important to really understand, be able to empathize with what are those problems, what are those pain points that you can help people move past with your course.

Chris: Yeah. And getting to know your learner, getting to know your buyer is super important for their customer experience and their on-boarding process.

It’s not just your ability to sell something that people want. It’s an ability for people to feel like they made the right choice, so they stick around—and they really take action on your content. You need to know how they like to process information, the kind of work you can do so that they put in the actions so they get results. It’s about getting into their heads in a way so that you have a complete solution for them.

Jerod: Yeah. When we do that, when we understand who the people are, now we can really identify the benefits that they’re going to get from this course.

What are the ultimate emotional benefits that they’re trying to achieve by taking your training? There’s got to be a match there. Otherwise, people will walk away disappointed. They won’t be getting out of this what they want.

Adult learners are obsessed with that. What’s in it for them? ”We’re choosing to take this course. We’re choosing to invest our time. What’s in for us?” On our part, as the people that are organizing, developing this course, we’ve got to identify the real-world benefits that people are seeking, the burning emotional desires that are driving their desire to learn.


Adult learners, busy adult learners that we’re targeting, aren’t just going to pay because they’re trying to satisfy a burning desire to learn. They are trying to do something more than that. We’ve got to understand what that is and make sure we deliver it with our course.

Chris: Yeah. They want to achieve something or solve something. We have ‘away from’ people, trying to get away from pain, get away from what they fear, move ahead with their life, or people who are working toward something, that have their goals. They want to achieve something. They want to get a better career. They want to get a promotion. They want to change how they live their life.

You need to understand, is it coming from a fear place or a goal place? You need to understand the outcome and the transformation. That’s what people are actually buying. They’re not buying a course. If you could write the answer in a sentence on the back of a postcard, they would buy that instead.

There’s going to be a small number of people who are taking your course, or reading your ebook even, out of pleasure. Most people are task oriented, project oriented when they buy this kind of education, especially if they pay a lot for it. Of course, you could be selling knitting patterns. That’s completely fine, but if you are selling a fitness class, if you are selling anything to do with a job role or a skill or anything vocational, they absolutely have an end goal, an outcome in mind—that’s what you’re selling.


The learner benefits have to translate to that and have to speak to that. If you can both promise the right things and deliver on them, then that’s how you’re going to grow a scalable business. Again, you’re going to get the testimonials, the case studies. You’re going to get that word of mouth.

Develop learning objectives Jerod: Yep. We understand the benefits. Now, we break those up into specific learning objectives with the goal, of course, being to end up with the big benefit that is being sought. This is where really understanding those realworld benefits allows us to design in our training content so that we can satisfy those specific concrete objectives.

These objectives are what really need to remain firmly at the front of our minds as we’re developing training content. This will guide us toward what we need to develop. Then, as we continue to move forward in the course and maybe add to the course, what needs to go next, or what gaps exist now that maybe people aren’t getting to the benefit as quickly or efficiently or whatever.

What gaps are there? Really understanding these objectives allows us to build it as good as possible in the beginning, but then also properly use the feedback that we get to fill in any gaps that may be there.

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Chris: Yeah. Each module of your course, each lesson of your course should have its own objective, and they should all combine to work towards that big outcome or transformation that you were promising. That keeps you on track.

It tells people in the marketing, and actually within the course, what they’re going to get and what they’re going to get out of it. It motivates people to actually go through it because they’re working towards their objective.

2. Business models Jerod: Yep. Okay, let’s move on now to the second section, which is talking about business models. This is so important because, ultimately, we have to be able to generate revenue, either directly or indirectly, from our course to make it sustainable. And, clearly, we can do this with a free course. Those can be great for lead generation, for trust building and all of that, and to lead people to a paid course.

But for a paid course to work, you’ve got to have a smart business around it, or you’re going to end up underselling your value and your efforts, perhaps to the point where the course isn’t sustainable. That’s not helping anyone, least of all you and your business, of course.

The thing is, some people are really great at teaching, writing, and creating, but business isn’t really their strong suit. On the other hand, you’ve got hardcore entrepreneurs who aren’t good at instructional design, aren’t

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good at creating engaging content. Do they understand how each business operates at the optimal level for the type of content being created? So I’ll walk through here a little bit how to determine the right business model for your course because it’s going to be so important to its success and to you getting out of it what you need to get out of it.

Chris: Yeah. There’s the obvious business model of you’re selling the education, but then, as Jerod says, you could do free education to attract prospects and build your list.

You could also do a business, which as Jerod says, some people want to stay away from the business and technology side, they just want to educate. If you think about book authors, a lot of book authors are disappointed with how much money they make directly from the book, and they need ‘a backend,’ some sort of backend offer. You could do consulting for these people and partner with them to build a membership site or a course that is on the back of their book publicity and teaches them how to implement what’s taught in the book.

There are lots of business models, but you need to tie it to those objectives we talked about, that audience that we talked about, and your own particular situation and skills.

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Tie objectives to business model Jerod: Yeah. And that’s the next slide, tying these learning objectives that we just talked about in the last section to our business model. As an example with The Showrunner, obviously, we knew that that course was going to be a paid course. People would pay a certain amount. They would get access.

But there’s different ways to set up a course. You can set up one specific course that’s just there. That’s it. People get it, and it’s the self-contained course. But what about adding a community? What about adding ongoing education?

For us, when we went back and as we were thinking about the learning objectives for what someone who is going to become a showrunner, what would they need? Well, part of what they’re going to need, frankly, is encouragement and is community support. Part of creating a podcast, creating a show that succeeds over the long-term, there are ups and downs, and it can be very helpful to have that kind of support. So we knew we needed a community.

We also knew that part of creating a successful audience experience is understanding what to do with new technologies and how to approach new things that come out. Being able to have ongoing education—where not only could we educate people on new developments since we developed the original curriculum, but also let people ask specific questions—that was an important objective that we wanted to fulfill in the course.

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Now our business model has to be tied to that because we’ve got to make the price reflect the extra effort, the extra work that it will take to create ongoing education. If that learning objective is important enough, that has to be taken in to the business model.

There’s lots of different ways we could have set up the course, but again, we tried to be very specific. It’s important to do this with any course, to be specific about what objectives you’re trying to fulfill and make sure that you then tie those to the business model so that you’re helping your audience achieve what they need, but you’re achieving what you need to as well from a business perspective.

3. Test with an MVP Chris: Yeah. And that leads us really nicely into the minimum viable product.

At some point, you need to test all of these assumptions with an MVP, a minimum viable product. A lot of people take that to mean low quality. We don’t mean something that’s rushed out and low quality. What we mean is, you take a slice of those objectives, those needs, and you do the best job you can knowing that you need to improve it over time.

Usually, as part of the deal, as part of this minimum viable product, you give people the best possible price. You have a pilot group or a beta group who

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go through it. Part of the deal, they get the best price, but they have to give you feedback.

We’ve used this repeatedly in this business and in our own side stuff, and it works very well. Those people have skin in the game. They actually get a really good deal because—as well as financially they get a great deal—they get to steer the ship a little bit. They get to help you course correct. You actually develop something that’s ideal for them. They get a bigger say because they’re the first group. It’s a fantastic experience for them. You get great feedback, and you get to launch it with low risk because you could actually have it bought and paid for before you’ve even finished creating the course.

Jerod: Yeah. Again, for The Showrunner, obviously, we released the podcast, so we had 10, 15 episodes of the podcasts that we put out there, kind of putting our ideas out there.

This big picture for The Showrunner, what it is, what it means. That allowed us to get feedback from the audience that we were targeting for some of these really bigger, overarching ideas to help us learn what our people were, what the learning objectives were going to be.

Then coming out with the pilot launch of the course then was our minimum viable product and, again, gave people an incredible value at the beginning.

Have gotten a lot of great feedback about the course in the community, ways that we can make it better.

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Eventually, when we relaunch this in 2016, whenever that will be when we open it back up, now we’ve been able to take this minimum viable product, prove that people are going to buy it because they have, and then get that feedback that, again, allows us to update the course, make it better, tailor it— all of those different things to continually improve it, to continually make it better. Testing with a minimum viable product before you just go all the way with something or invest way too many resources in it is not just a smart thing to do, it’s a necessary thing to do.

Chris: Absolutely.

4. Developing content Jerod: All right. Chris, let’s talk about developing content. It’s funny, we think about launching a course, and a lot of times, that’s where our mind first goes to is this idea of developing content. But we’ve already shown that there is a lot that you need to think about, a big process to go through before you even get here.

You don’t want to dive right in to creating content. It could end up being something that nobody wants, or it could be just a little bit off the mark. Part of this, one of the ways that Brian explained this when he went through in the first lesson of his Digital Commerce Academy course talking about that was the importance of recognizing how learning happens in the real world.


When teachers are teaching, they’re able to get this feedback. They’re able to see the looks on people’s faces, see the confusion, see where things really hit.

That’s so important to remember—we need feedback. We need feedback from the people we’re trying to teach to really make sure that we are zeroing in and really helping them achieve the learning objectives.

That’s the overview statement of this for developing content. Then we’ll get into now talking about some of the real specific things that you can do to develop content, like your research source material.

Research source material Jerod: Where is the content of your training program going to come from?

There’s a lot of different ways that you could do this, places you can go from.

You can go from your experience, which is obviously a great place to start.

Are you going to research and synthesize material? Do you perhaps need a partner, a credentialed expert?

Let’s say that I had never run a podcast before, but I want to teach a course about podcasting. It’s going to be really hard for me to do it just from what I’ve researched. That’s something where you really need a firsthand perspective that has experience doing it. If that were the case, then we would have had to get some credentialed expert to come in.

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