Episode 42: Thinkific Why Now is the Time to Launch Your Course

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Stephanie Liu: Hey, what's up you guys! It's Stephanie Liu and welcome to another episode of Lights, Camera, Live. For those of you that are joining us today we're gonna be talking about how you can go ahead and start launching your course. Get all those amazing ideas, skills and experience that you have and start making it into a profitable revenue stream just for you. All right, cool. So if you're just tuning in go ahead and leave a comment, let me know where you're watching from. I'm here in San Diego, what! Let me know where you're watching from and if you're watching the replay go ahead and leave the comment “#replay”. I've got some amazing folks here for you today and they actually hooked me up some gear, can you see that? Plus I'm also messing around with a new GH5, so if you're checking out the camera quality let me know. I do have a backup camera if it gets a little crazy, but it's all good to go. So without any further ado let me go ahead and give you a sneak peek at who I have hiding behind camera #3. Whaaaat, there you guys are!

Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas: Hey, everybody! What’s up?

Stephanie Liu: What up, what up, what up! All right, cool so for you guys who don't know I have Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas here and they are from the Thinkific crew, and what we're gonna talk about today is why you should be creating your course now. I know a bunch of you probably like me and you're just like “Dude, I have this amazing idea and I want to make it like come to life but I'm struggling.” I will tell you for sure that when it came to me and look, even putting Lights, Camera, Live together it took me a good year and a good shit talking from my homegirl to just be like stop talking about it and start being about it. So if you guys are really interested in learning how to launch your course and I've got these guys over here. I love it you just sipped a glass of water while I switched the camera to you. They're like, oh she's got the camera on her I'm just gonna go ahead and… it's so tacky. Well before we go ahead and get started let me go ahead and give a shout out to the whole entire crew that's here. You guys are in Squamish, right?

Aaron Morin: That's right, yeah. Squamish right by what… up from Vancouver. About an hour outside of Vancouver, near Whistler.

Stephanie Liu: Very cool! So shout-out to Angela, Yvi, Mike, Leona, Geriann - oh my god you guys, there's a bunch of names over here. We've got Tracey Lee Lorenson, I have not seen you forever. Let me go and see if I can make this bigger, there you go. Tracey Lee, so good to see you. Kaitlin is also here from Nevada and she has a bunch of questions because she's also interested in launching her course as well. So having said that you guys let's go ahead and get started. Alright, launching a course there's a lot that goes into it and a lot of the questions that we've been getting in the Facebook group, for those of you guys who don't know we do have a Facebook group - Social Media Strategist, and I fed this out to the group first and I asked them “Okay, so when it comes to to launching your own course, what are you struggling with?” And one of the things that they were saying was “Well, how do I research for my course? How do I get over the impostor syndrome?” And I'm like looking at you guys because you guys work with the big brand names like Lewis Howes and Sunny (Sunny Lenarduzzi) and what are your tips and advice on starting an actual course with the research phase of it?

Aaron Morin: So when you're doing the research phase of course creation it's really really important to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is going to do best in your course. A lot of people just say put yourself in the shoes of your audience and that's great too, but you really want to put yourself in the shoes of the people that are going to take your course, they're gonna start it and they're gonna complete it. You're gonna have students that show up to take your course and maybe get like 25% of the way through, they get what they need and they leave. But you want to design the course for the people that are going to enjoy it the most and you can do that in a couple different ways. My favorite way is just to do a quick persona of that kind of person in my mind and that's not a solitary activity when you're building a persona, you go out and you talk to the people who you think kind of fit it and then you could survey them or even just like talk to them one-on-one to get their insights on stuff. If you don't know anybody like that I'm sure a family or a friend, or a colleague works best, but chances are you can probably connect with somebody on social if you just post the word out there and say “Hey, I'm making a course on this, I'd love to connect with you.” Or “I would love to learn more about the people who would be interested in that.” Or even just saying “Who would be interested in that?”

Stephanie Liu: Okay cool, and so when you're saying surveying people, what type of questions should you be asking people if you're going to survey them?

Aaron Morin: Yeah, so one of the best questions to ask is “If you were if you're gonna take a course on _, what would you be able to do at the end of it?” or something like “What is the biggest thing stopping you from getting from point A to point B with your course topic?” and then you can start to dig into the pains there as well. So I'm just putting something really big out there, like “What do you think?” or like “What do you think would be best in this course?” or something like like that can lead into bigger things. With questions on surveys it's never just the one question, don't ever leave a question with one answer. You have to ask questions over and over and over and keep digging until you get something out of it that's like really really in pinpoint.

Stephanie Liu: That's actually very true, I know that when I was putting together Lights, Camera, Live the very first one, my first data, I made it very much open-ended questions. It was kind of like “What are you what are you struggling with when it comes to live streaming?” And it was super helpful to see in their own words what they were struggling with, because at the end of it when I was putting together my sales page I was like “Hey, are you terrified of being in front of the camera? Does tech freak you out?” Those are the certain things I was able to put on a sales page and it resonated with students, because they're like “Yeah! That's exactly what I'm thinking.” So it's kind of like this Jedi mind trick I guess you could say.

Aaron Morin: Yeah, so a lot of times we know what we went through as well. We can take a look at our own history and realize all the pains and the fears, and all of that stuff that we went through on our journey to get to where we are as an expert. And don't worry about the term expert, that's one thing that slows people down too - some people think like “I'm not an expert, I could never make a course on this. No one is going to listen to me.” I have a definition of expert that is if you have something to give to someone else that's going to make their life better, you're their expert. That's just what that means. So your journey to that point as the expert, you need to reflect on that as well when you're thinking what your course should involve.

Stephanie Liu: And what about the people where they're concerned about “Well, somebody already has a live streaming course” or “somebody already has the course about raw food meals and all that stuff.” How do you get over that mindset?

Aaron Morin: So that person has a specific take on something. It’s their flavor, it's their brand, they're gonna be paying attention to a specific part of that if they're very good at creating a course. As always, your content has to be niche, basically pinpointed on your audience. It's also evidence of… So if you think if you go outside and you can't find water anywhere, if you find a river flowing and you can jump into it essentially. Don’t ever look at something that's already moving, something that's already happening as like you've missed the bus on it. You can dive into that stream and you can become a part of that ecosystem.

Stephanie Liu: Oh, I like that! Have you guys ever… Did you see that that meme when Michael Phelps was swimming and competing in the Olympics and the other dude was like looking at him, and then eventually Michael Phelps just won?

Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas: Oh yeah, caught watching.

Stephanie Liu: Rubbernecking, don't do that. So if you guys are just tuning in, we do have other people in here. We have Tracy popped in, Kaitlin from from Nevada, Kaitlin you better pop in and say, and add your questions in here because I know you're hanging out in the Facebook group. Here’s a thing that I also learned about researching your audience. I saw this in someone else's article, it was probably in the Thinkific one. But someone made the recommendation that you should take a look at Amazon books and read the reviews of what people are saying. I wish it had this, I wish I had talked about that. Are there any other ways to research aside from surveys that you would recommend?

Aaron Morin: So you can get really technical with this kind of stuff and you can see what guides or blog posts, or articles are ranking really high for search terms and see if they're getting a lot of engagement. If you have access to tools like like BuzzSumo or SEM Rush I think is one of them, but if you have access to those kinds of tools you can see which which kind of content is really hot so you can see. For example, BuzzSumo they allow you to search for a topic and it'll show you how many times it was shared on Facebook, how many times it was shared on Twitter, and then the really really hot stuff. Typically there's usually no course about it, but you can probably involve that content in your course or something along those lines. So just search your own kind of you know topic area and you will be able to find some results there. Even just packaging and curating that content is really really important. If you find a bunch of stuff, it's all kind of disparate, different publishers, you can bring it back in for sure. But reviews are really really important, always check out those three star reviews because they're going to show you exactly what’s best and what's worst about a product or book.

Stephanie Liu: Very true, cool. Well I'm gonna give Aaron a quick break because Rob is just chilling there and he's like yeah, yeah, yeah. So Rob, I have BuzzSumo up. If there was… What would be a good course idea? Hey, one of you guys that are watching can you leave a comment in terms of what idea you have that you've been thinking about? Because then that way we'll just like test out BuzzSumo right now, so it’d be really kind of fun to do that. Mike, I did just see your comments, so if you want to drop in your comment right now by all means go ahead and do that. I'm looking for some viewer participation right now, so there's gonna be a little bit of a delay.

Rob Balasabas: That's all good. Great comments by the way everybody, you guys had really good questions in that… Question that you posted a few days ago, that was really good. We could look at those.

Stephanie Liu: Okay, so Mike Allton said BuzzSumo will definitely show what's doing well on social, while SEM Rush can show you topics and content that are ranking in search, which by the way if you guys don't know who Mike Allton is, he is a beast when it comes to blogging. That's actually kind of a funny title, beast in blogging, and he's thinking about launching a course too. So we'll see what happens there. All right, so let's see. Oh! Angela's here, Angela says “a course that teaches entrepreneurs on how to host successful events.” Yes! She's talking about this like forever. How can we use BuzzSumo right now to get her ideas started on what to do, how to make this into a course? What would I search for? “Tips to host an event”?

Rob Balasabas: Yeah, anything like “how to host a successful event” or even getting it down to niche if you want, like “how to run like a great marketing conference” or like something along those lines.

Stephanie Liu: Very cool, so “tips for hosting an event to remember,” Angela, those are some ideas to think about and go from there. I'm not gonna put you guys too much on the spot, I just kind of threw that at you. They're like “Wait now, that wasn't in rehearsal!” Okay cool, so then let's also talk about well what do I need in terms of gear to go ahead and launch a course?

Rob Balasabas: I think you don't need to get fancy with gear, just like creating any content really. Even photographers say the best camera is the one you have. So, just start creating content. Start creating your courses, obviously you want to outline all of your content and then just jump and create it. One of our really top users, he's essentially recreated his course probably a handful of times in the last two years. As he got more successful, he had more revenue, he got nicer equipment and then he recreated the content over and over again and updated it, made it look nicer. You gotta have a starting point.

Aaron Morin: And a great starting point is just start with your phone, most people's phones are amazing tools. They have great cameras in them, they have great microphones in them and you can augment those, but with simple attachments too. This is my Rode, I can't remember the exact name of what it's called, but I’m going to hold that up to the camera. That plugs in your phone, it's a shotgun mic essentially and it makes the audio a little bit clearer, especially if you're outside and it's getting a little bit windy you can put a wind sock on it. So there's all that kind of stuff out there, you can get tripods of your phone and everything like that. Now if you have a camera that's great too, you do want to put yourself on, you want to put your face in the video. Rob's showing me someone here, hooplovers.tv, Deanne Love created her own course site with us a very long time ago and she got started with her phone. She was basically recording herself doing hula hoop fitness routines for fitness instructors so they get started, alone, just in a park somewhere. And now she has like a she's got a six-figure business teaching people how to exercise with hula hoops and fitness training. So you don't have to worry about that.

Stephanie Liu: Hula hoops? Man I got two in my playroom right now cuz of my daughter, you're telling me that… okay.

Aaron Morin: We had no idea it was such a lucrative fitness equipment business.

Rob Balasabas: It's a niche.

Stephanie Liu: That's legit!

Aaron Morin: It's pretty cool that you can just start with that kind of stuff. Always favor your audio over your video if you absolutely have to make a cut. That's the thing that keeps people engaged the most. Making sure that you're on camera, that kind of stuff. One thing that you can do is also use your laptop, every laptop usually has a webcam in it. If you have a Mac you get a pretty good webcam in it okay and you can get Chrome extensions like Loom (useloom.com), you can use Soapbox from Wistia, they have a pro version now, and there's another one. I think it's GoVideo from Vidyard and it says they're free. Essentially they're just screen recorders, so you can start the recording, pop your slides up on the screen, have your face down in the corner and basically talk over your slides that way and then you have a nice video that you can upload to a course.

Stephanie Liu: That's insane, I hope Angela… Angela is usually like the the star viewer, she usually takes the notes. So Angela, everything that Aaron just said, please put in the comments. Okay so Geriann was asking she always has troubles with plugs like that for the iPhone 7 Plus, because you're just showing the Rode mic. Do you have an alternative to that that other people can use?

Aaron Morin: Yeah so with your iPhones, if you take the… hopefully this isn't your only pair of headphones, but if you take your headphones they have a microphone in them. What you can actually do is make like a really cheap laugh mic by cutting off the top of your headphones and keeping the microphone on there and plugging it into the iPhone, and then just taping it up on your shirt.

Stephanie Liu: Whaaat! That’s ninja. Okay, wait I'm not gonna get electrocuted if I do that, right?

Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas: Yeah, maybe tape off the ends, you should be fine. Or you can fold them down if you wanted to.

Stephanie Liu: Okay. Disclaimer, do it at your own risk. I'm trying to get in trouble over here if you… yeah. And P.S. let your husband know, cuz my husband's going to be like “What the hell happened to my headphones?”

Aaron Morin: Make sure it’s yours first, for sure.

Stephanie Liu: Cool, alright. So I love the comments that are popping up, you guys by all means go ahead and throw your questions on here. We just talked about best equipment for software to start recording and I really love the fact that you mentioned - use what you have right now. I was on Angela's show last week and she's like “You know, all I got is my iPhone” and I was like “Well, do it.” Because usually some people like “No, I need I need the best camera blah blah blah” and it's like “Use what you have.” I will tell you guys when I first started my course I hated my background and Tracy just had left a comment, she's like “I love your background!” Dude, my background used to suck. I used to have this big huge IKEA background with books there and I tried to be all fancy, I tried to color-coordinate my books - that was a headache cuz I could never find my books again. I ended up using a green screen right, so if you guys are ever in that chorus you'll notice that as I'm recording the course my backdrop changes, my hair gets longer because I'm going back in there and I'm updating it. So just get started is basically what you guys are saying, right?

Aaron Morin: Yeah absolutely, and then just graduate as you go. You can get really nice external webcams for your laptop, you can get nice microphones for the audio. A lot of people already have this stuff when when they get started and then you can start putting it into video editing software like there's the Camtasia and ScreenFlow, and anything else out there that works for you. But you can always get started small, there's absolutely no reason why you can't start using your phone. They're fancy equipment, they cost a lot of money, you should put it to use.

Stephanie Liu: That is true, especially if you have the iPhone X y’all. I mean that thing is a beast, that should be taking you to work. Okay, so Geriann basically just said “Now I regret giving away those headphones.” Geriann, if you want to try the headphone ninja trick let us know! I would love to see that in the group if someone were like “Here's a photo of my headphones that's now been upgraded to be a mic.” That would be hilarious.

Aaron Morin: If that doesn't work I'm gonna get a bill first.

Stephanie Liu: Very funny, okay cool. If you guys have any other questions, by all means drop them in the comments because I will be able to put it up on the screen as you've been seeing. The other thing I want to talk to you guys about is all right, so now I have my course put together. How do I launch the bloody thing? How do I actually sell this? Because if I put in all this time and effort into creating it, how do I get people buzzing about it? What are your tips for that?

Aaron Morin: So one of the things that I try to teach in the courses that I make on training.thinkific.com is that you can repurpose a lot of your sales copy. So basically when you are launching something and you do have a bit of an audience already, if you take your sales copy and break it up into several different emails over a period of time to your list that typically works really well. So when you're launching you might want to do it on a week in advance or two weeks, so however long you want to do it. But you take your landing page, so you take your basics, you go through the story of the pain points, you go through the solution, you tell everybody about your course after that, and then you start talking about people who have gone through it or might have given you an endorsement. Maybe a colleague says this person's an expert of what they do, stuff from the past, that kind of thing. You put that in a different email. The next one handles objections, the next one's frequently asked questions. So you can break up your landing page essentially into emails that re-use that content and then send that up and always link back to the checkout or the landing page itself, so they start getting people into the checkout.

Stephanie Liu: Who is taking notes?! He just laid that all out, he didn't even have a notepad. He was just like “Girl, this is what you do.” He's like boom boom boom. I guess he's like “Two weeks, seven emails, I got you.” Angela, I am putting you to work. My goodness! That was brilliant, I was like “Ah, you need to come back to San Diego. We'll kick it and I will buy Rob Starbucks, his white chocolate mocha.” Very cool, so Tracy Lee just joined in and she said “So easy to update modules in Thinkific.” What is the best way to build your course on any platform? Should you upload the videos directly to the platform or should you be using something like Vimeo and just embedding it in there? What are your thoughts?

Aaron Morin: It depends on the platform you're using. Obviously you should use Thinkific, it just makes sense. But one of the best features about it is that when you are uploading your videos there's no extra cost there. So if you're using a Vimeo account and you love it that's totally fine, but if you're not and you're thinking about a video hosting platform it's just gonna cost you extra money when you're using Thinkific on top of that because we have unlimited video hosting anyways. It's a Wistia player, so it has all the benefits of Wistia basically for free. So you can't go you can't go wrong with Thinkific. And then all at once I think I saw some comments about you know should you upload it all at once, should you do a piecemeal - that kind of thing. Going back to launch strategies, I would say that if it's your first time this isn't something that you've developed over time, which most people here I believe that's the case, you don't want to create everything at once when you're actually creating the content. You probably want to go through a strategy of creating the content as you need it and making sure that you get a feedback loop on the content produced. So when you're launching your course for the first time it's really really a successful strategy to basically stage the content releases over time. So if you create a couple videos, release them, send them to your audience, email them, notify them that the course is launched and there's content there, go watch it. Then after they've conceivably finished that content or actually when you see that they have in their progress of course, just send them a quick email and be like “What did you think?” You can even just utilize a survey in the course itself to get that feedback to you and then when you start getting that feedback from your students, they're gonna tell you things like you know “The light in the background was distracting” or something like that and you can go ahead and remove it for the next episode or whatever you're doing. Or if it's not really resonating with your audience you might want to shift and focus on something else in the next chapter. That’s a really really scary way of creating a course.

Stephanie Liu: I like how I just changed in the screen. I have no words, I'm just gonna scream into the mic.

Aaron Morin: Yeah, it’s super scary because it puts you on a deadline. If you commit to a schedule of creation then you have to do it and it's kind of scary. But it's the kind of encouragement that you need to keep up with something, to keep it up to date especially when you're doing your first course. This is all in the context of something that we here call a Minimum Viable Course at Thinkific. So Tyler, our blog writer, he writes about it all the time. You essentially want to start with a beta or a pilot version of whatever you plan on doing. Go with that condition because it's not gonna happen the way that you want it the first time, it just won't no matter how you plan it. So it's best to do a Minimum Viable Course, which is like an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) where it's just enough to become a real thing that you could possibly charge for. The main benefit for people going in is that it's probably going to be cheaper than what you intend eventually, but the ask is that they give that feedback. You can make people feel incredibly important. They're not getting bad content, you don't have to tell them “It's gonna be buggy, I might screw up one week and forget to upload” or something like that. You basically say “You guys are my founding members, you are my core crew, you're my first adopters/early adopters.” These people are the most special people to you, they are going to be anyways, and you can make them feel like that and ask for their feedback so they'll be more than happy to do it.

Stephanie Liu: That's actually very true, because I did that last year with Lights, Camera, Live. That was my beta course Tracy was a part of that, Angela was a part of that. It does put your feet to the fire when you're doing a beta. I promised them that within a week I was putting out two modules. I would ask them for feedback what needed to change, what did I need to slow down on. Because as you guys already know I talk really fast, especially when I get excited. So having that feedback was really cool and then at the end of the beta I was like “You guys, thank you so much for your feedback. If you now want this course, here's the founder price for it.” Right? So they had access to the course itself and then if any early launches that I was gonna do for new courses, they were my launching point from there. So I love that idea.

Rob Balasabas: A cool thing that happens too after that is that they sort of become your advocates out there, they're pushing for you because they feel like they were part of the creation of the course. So they're out there and they're gonna start talking about it and sharing it, everything like that.

Stephanie Liu: But okay, so we talked a lot about beta. But there's also the fears of doing beta in the sense of “Well, what if someone jacks my stuff? How do I prevent that from happening?”

Aaron Morin: Yeah, it's a really good question. So you got to pick a platform that's secure - #1, and you want to put a price tag on it so that you don't have people just jumping in there for free - #2. #3 - you just gotta accept that the Internet is a scary place and there's always a way around everything, but the best platforms keep up to date on those things. I can assure you from Thinkific that we do. Worst-case scenario is that you offer something for download, like a PDF guide or something along those lines, and it gets out there - somebody uploads it over to Reddit or whatever. There’s some downloads, that's totally fine because it's out of context of the course itself. You always have to introduce other aspects to your course other than things like videos and text. You want to put in quizzes, you want to put in surveys, you want to put in live events, discussions - all that kind of stuff because that's where a lot of your value is going to come from. It will not actually come from the content itself in most cases. And then #4, really quick tip, always brand everything that you do. Never put out something that's absolutely unbranded. Because if you have a URL on your material, if you have a logo on your material and it gets out there, if somebody finds it and they’re like “Damn, I love this stuff. Where can I find more?” It’s basically like viral marketing in and of itself, it could help you in the end.

Stephanie Liu: I love that. So just to recap that it's basically yes, you are creating a course but the added value that you're putting in behind that is the community that you're building. I know that for Lights, Camera, Live a lot of people were more interested in the group coaching aspect of it. Just the fact that they could jump onto Zoom, show me their screen and be like “Look, OBS is messing with me right. How do I fix this?” So that's like one cool thing that you can't get if someone were just to download a PDF. Which by the way I love that you mentioned branding the PDFs, cuz when I first did my beta I didn't realize that. I actually had one of my beta students say like “Hey Steph, make sure to put your website at the bottom.” I was like “Brilliant! Would not have thought about that.” Right? I was like “You are an expert beta participant.” Well cool, so if you guys have any other questions by all means go ahead and drop them in there. We talked a little bit about mindset and how to get you motivated to start doing your own course. Don't worry about what others, what someone else is doing because you're gonna put your own flavor on it, or as I like to say I'm gonna put your own swag on it. If you want to research ideas, we talked about BuzzSumo, we've talked about surveys, ninja trick - go hang out on Amazon and take a look at book reviews and see what people were saying that you know “I wish that this book talked about X,Y and Z” and then fold that into your course creation. Other things that we talked about was in terms of launching your course, do a beta, get some feedback, make sure that it's on point with what people actually need. Is there anything else that I'm missing you guys aside from the headphone snip?

Aaron Morin: If there's one thing that you’re going to take away from this, it’s go cut your headphones.

Stephanie Liu: Is there a course for that? [Laughs}

Aaron Morin: No. [Laughs]

Stephanie Liu: Very cool, all right so having said that let's talk about a couple of the courses that you guys have on Thinkific. Rob sent over a few URLs and I was like wait a second, how does it look that amazing? I'm so jealous! So let's see ,okay let's go ahead and move over to the first one. So the first one is gonna be Lewis Howes. What is going on here? How did he make this? Why does this look like this?

Aaron Morin: Yeah, so Lewis Howes he's a very old customer of ours. He's one of the first people that got started with us and we worked with him pretty much hand in hand for a lot of the early parts of Thinkific. So I think he's using an external website right now to basically handle his lead generation and then he follows up with people, sends them the invites to the course and that kind of thing. When they get in, it's all branded and it all looks like his own brand essentially. He's got a logo in there, he’s got his colors in there and all that good stuff.

Stephanie Liu: Did you guys meet him at Social Media Marketing World when you were in town?

Rob Balasabas: No, we didn't meet him. Well, we saw him speak but we didn't catch him. Did you?

Stephanie Liu: No, I didn’t. In fact I think if I did see him I'd probably just be all red. I was like “Oh my god, you're so cute.” Okay well, let’s also talk about Sunny. What's going on with her? Because she also uses Thinkific. Because her design is actually a lot different than the Lewis’s. Okay so boom, there you go.

Rob Balasabas: She's got a custom design, so she's teaching YouTube for bosses. So she grew her… I think she was doing some consulting for video creation and YouTube, and then she put everything into a course and essentially leveraged technology. Then just took her skills with YouTube to really just launch her course and grow it. And now there's a little bit consulting, but really she's just focused on the online course world.

Stephanie Liu: Really?! And she does YouTube, okay cool that's like one arena that I want to start playing around with. So she'll put that out there. All right very cool, you guys met up with her at Social Media Marketing World too, right?

Rob Balasabas: Yeah, I think she was busy there. She's the host I think, right? She's one of the hosts shooting [Social Media] Marketing World, so yeah.

Stephanie Liu: Wow, very cool. And then HootSuite is on Thinkific too - that's bananas, you guys have like everybody.

Aaron Morin: Yeah, HootSuite is another one of our very early customers and they're using it in a great way here where they have hootsuite.com and they do a lot of their sales on their external website. Now granted we're seeing a lot of external websites going over to course sites here and that's typically the use case if you have something already, but if you don't have something set up that you love right now we actually just released a feature - I think it was today, fully - where you can actually build a website page for page in a drag and drop way. I mean drag and drop so you can move the sections up and down. It's a pretty revolutionary update to Thinkific, so if you haven't seen the inside of a Thinkific website yet it's really important to go and check that out and let us know what you think. We think it's gonna change the game, hands-down it’s the biggest thing we've ever done. So I encourage you, yeah. It's available to everyone now, so if anyone's thinking about updating their site I would definitely go check that out by going to themes library, if you know what I'm talking about.

Stephanie Liu: For sure, what! That's crazy. I'm trying to pay attention to you guys, but I'm also like “Oh, I want to see it right now.” Like “Okay, you guys. I'll be right back, just go ahead and keep talking.” All right, cool. So, go ahead.

Aaron Morin: So, I'll just talk a little bit more about HootSuite, right? So their site is that education.hootsuite.com and that's typically the use case if you have a site already. If I have aaronmorin.com or robbalasabas.com, we can host our courses at learn.aaronmorin.com or learn.robbalasabas.com, a sub-domain there and that's typically the use. Thinkific is a separate website altogether, so you can use it on your own or you can use it in combination with your existing site. It’s totally brandable, you'll see that if you go to hootsuite.com and then education.hootsuite.com - very similar branding. They're doing something really cool, certificates where essentially all their courses are free if you have a HootSuite account. All their courses are free and then if you want to get certified you actually have to pay for the test. So it's just one of those cool models that's out there. You don't always just have to sell the course itself, you can actually sell the certification, which in their case has a lot of recognition. I've seen job postings that say “You must be HootSuite certified.”

Stephanie Liu: Oh, what?! Really?

Aaron Morin: Oh yeah.

Stephanie Liu: I have not seen that! It's probably because I'm my own boss.

Aaron Morin: Yeah, haven’t see a job application in a while.

Stephanie Liu: Oh my god, that’s hilarious. Okay, so while we're all still on this I want to go back to the Facebook group because some of the folks in the group weren't able to join us live, but I still want to answer their questions on here. I still want to give them the opportunity to get their questions answered, so I hope you don't mind. Meg Bateman says that her biggest problem is just writing it already. Do you have any tips on how to help people that are just like “I have this idea, but how do I get it on paper and then get it on video?” Because what you're saying is don't just do a course and not be on video, you should be on video. Is that right?

Aaron Morin: I mean yeah, I would probably say that it's important to show yourself as a person because it's not just for your personal branding or just to build your conference or anything like that. The actual learning experience for students depends on a certain level of connection with the person speaking, so people are more likely to understand and retain knowledge when they can see it coming from a human being. It’s just natural, right? Because you see a human face you pay attention to it. So even if you’re unconfident, even if you don't care about your brand or anything, it's important for people to see your face. That being said, if you don't want to do it, if you don't own a good webcam, maybe you don't want to show your face on camera - that's fine. The audio over some slides is probably just a really simple alternative. You can use tools like we said earlier, like those Chrome extensions like Loom and SoapBox and all that good stuff to just put your slides up and start talking over it. Video is the easiest content to put into a course, I would say. It just requires less work, especially when you got those easy options. Don't overthink it.

Stephanie Liu: So are you saying that you're gonna develop a platform where you're gonna have built-in filters for cameras?

Aaron Morin: Maybe, I don’t know yet.

Stephanie Liu: What?! Come on now!

Aaron Morin: I’m not of that level of security clearance at Thinkific unfortunately.

Stephanie Liu: Okay, okay, okay. All right, we've got another question. Oh, go ahead.

Aaron Morin: Just giving a demo, Rob you are a very like get it done kind of person. You're doing a lot on your on your own right now when it comes to like blogging. What makes you you just do it?

Rob Balasabas: I think you literally just do it. I think a lot of people just overthink and then you get analysis paralysis or whatever it’s called and you kind of overthink, and you think of too much. But just jump in, you’re gonna make mistakes the first few several times, but then you'll learn. Just like when you came on Instagram Live with us and people are like “How do you get on Instagram Live?” And you’re like “Just do it” right? You just jump on the camera, record yourself, do some Stories on Instagram, set up maybe environments like your test Facebook group where you go live there. And then go live there, right? It is somewhat live, but nobody's really watching.

Aaron Morin: You can watch yourself, you can see yourself do things. A lot of the times when I review my videos of course I cringe, I cringe every single time I see myself on camera. I don't know why, that’s just normal. But that’s totally normal, I think everybody feels that way especially when you first get started. I mean, I think both Rob and I jumped into it headfirst and it was more beneficial to make those mistakes and just get over it than to overthink it and have the perfect plan. It was a funny story, at Thinkific we were a very small team. We were about 20 people, we've grown exponentially since then, but when it was 20 people we didn't have process or we weren't thinking too much about doing things and thankfully that's changed. But, when I first got started the one of the very first things I did there was they would say “You're going to go on a Facebook Live with our founder Greg and you guys are going to talk about course landing pages together just live. Review them and talk about them.” And I was like “Sure, that's great. So like next month or something?” and they're like “No, no. In like an hour.” I just started sweating and stuff. But you know, I jumped in and we did it. We had fun, we joked around and it was a good time. Especially when you first get started and you're not building momentum, you're not gonna have like tons of people watching it either. So the people that do show up… Just engage, have fun, just have a great time. Also this quick tip, one thing that I usually recommend to people to start doing if you can, if you have the ability to do it, if you're limited in any way shape or form from doing this, it's kind of like a high startup cost kind of thing sometimes for people. But if you go to give a free talk or a free workshop or something like that at a meet-up or something along those lines, just to a group of real people, nine times out of ten they're gonna give you a really good feedback. Whenever I do anything in front of people they always come up to me afterwards and they say “Hey Aaron, that was really great. You're an expert, I love you.” And I'm just like “No no, that's not true at all.”

Stephanie Liu: Oh stop, you’re all like “Oh yes, I am. I'm Aaron, tell me more.”

Aaron Morin: But then they give me some really hard-hitting stuff sometimes. People do like the compliment sandwich, but they give me some really good hard-hitting stuff. I constantly get “You speak too fast, you need to speak more clearly” or “There's no engagement,” “There's none of eye contact,” all that good stuff. If you go and put yourself out there you'll get used to it.

Stephanie Liu: Ah, well good tips. I mean I know that in our Instagram Live yesterday we're talking about ways that you could hype yourself up for behind camera and Mike Allton was there too and he was just like “Wait, tell me more about this playlist” and I was like “Yo!”

Rob Balasabas: What’s your song?

Stephanie Liu: My song? Oh, you know I'm actually just gonna pull it up in the group. So let me let me just do that real quick. Mike, I'm about to put you on blast, I hope you don't mind. Give me some filler time while I look this up real quick.

Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas: Yeah, I think the Rocky theme was in there, “Eye of the Tiger” was in there, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani…

Stephanie Liu: Here we go, this is Mike. Sorry for all my group members, yes you will be put on blast. So Mike said “For right now, any Hans Zimmer soundtracks - Man of Steel, Batman and Superman,” which I was all about because I saw Hans Zimmer over at Coachella and I was like “Yo, that’s legit!” And then Tonya is on here, she was saying “Anything 80s.” I will tell you for me it's anything 90s, anything Salt-n-Pepa I am all about. All right cool, so do you guys have any other questions about launching a course? If so go ahead and drop them in the comments. I'm still keeping an eye on those and so while we're doing that, tell us about this webinar that you guys do every Thursday. Cuz you're teaching people how to launch their courses, is that right?

Rob Balasabas: Yeah, basically every Thursday 11:00 a.m. PST we go live for a webinar and we take you basically behind the scenes and just start from A to Z on Thinkific, online courses in general, just sort of like how they work, how they're structured, we go over some examples and then we give you a nice little bonus at the end. We love go-getters, so if you’re ever…

Stephanie Liu: Bonus??

Aaron Morin: Yeah, if you're ever at all jumping into anything that we're doing you can expect to find a little reward for you at the end for sure. The webinar is great, live Q&A so please go ahead and join us there. You can go to… I'll just say, you can go to… You can just put the link in the comments probably.

Stephanie Liu: Yeah, if you guys are watching if you scroll up in the description you'll see all of the resources that we mentioned there. So there is a link to the Facebook group, I would love love love to have you in there if you're not already in there. If you want to join the Thinkific webinar I will be there next week, because I don't think I've even told anyone this. For those of you that are asking what platform I'm using, I'm using Ecamm Live. And for people who've been following me forever I was always in love with OBS Studio, but if you're digging this new platform this is the new beta that I'm gonna be working on. So you've seen me switching the screens, you've seen me throwing up the comments on here, branding it - all of that stuff. That's gonna be the new beta, so if you want to know when that's gonna drop you better jump in to the Facebook group because they're gonna get the freebies first. So, for sure. Let’s see here, let's see. One of our viewers is asking “Are you gonna go online in the Thinkific studio?” Yeah! Do you not see me? This is like my hype up, “Eye of the Tiger,” that's what I'm gonna do. So for sure you guys, definitely if you're interested in learning how to use Ecamm I'm gonna throw it down. It's not just gonna be like “Oh, this is how you connect your stuff.” It's like “No, this is how you're gonna use Ecamm in terms of setting up your scenes, grouping it, using a DSLR.” This is not my webcam you guys, this is a Panasonic GH5. I also have a T6i back there that I've been playing around with. So it's gonna be next level, so if you want to be a part of that - link in the description and we'll go from there.

Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas: We want in actually. We’re super interested in that, we’ll be watching.

Stephanie Liu: You want in? I should have like my go like pow, pow, pow course. Okay cool, so let's see. We have one question from Riann that I want to throw up on the screen for you guys, cuz it's a good one and I almost missed it. Riann, thank you so much for joining. She says, “How do you know if your course is too big? And if it IS how should I segment or divide it?” Great question.

Aaron Morin: Yeah, so it's a tough question because when you are creating a course if you have created it and it feels too big, it probably is too big. What I would say is I'll walk you through how I tell people how to create a course and it will probably make sense in like a retroactive way. When you're thinking about creating a course, it should be on a specific part of a journey so to speak, like a learning pathway. I don't see courses as comprehensive, like massive courses anymore because you can take those courses and break them down into multiple products and then bundle them together in ways you probably didn't even realize. I often recommend people start with the granular aspect of it and then move on up rather than “I have this like master class on big thing like marketing” and then it involves everything. You can turn that into 18-20 different courses and then bundle them all together to make a membership site. You just have more options if you're going small. So one of the things I usually tell people is “How about a succinct journey where somebody accomplishes a major transformation in their life?” So for example, it might be something like “How to create the best, most convincing landing page.” I would say that's a good course on itself. And then what you do is you start from the back, you start from the end and you say “This person has all the things they need to create that landing page” and then you move a step back and you say “What is the last thing that that person would have to do in order to accomplish that?” And then you keep moving back in a very high-level way. Those little high-level milestones we call them, those can be kind of like a chapter and then we're basically gonna do the exact same thing with your chapters where you “This person has the most amazing graphics now on their landing page” and then say “What's the step before that?” Then you kind of just keep doing that until you have a whole course. A course usually depends on how you deliver it, cuz if it's really long course, if it's a month-long course you need to be you need to be breaking up that content by time or by product. So if it's like a weekly course, then you have four different chapters that go out every week and you give enough time for people conceivably because sometimes you're a full time course creator, sometimes you're part-time. But most of your students are going to be part-time learners, right? So just make sure to put yourself in their footsteps.

Stephanie Liu: Mmm, that's very true. I love the fact that you said part-time learners. I had someone reach out to me earlier this week and they said “Hey, I want to learn how you do your live streams” and I said “Well, my Mastermind doesn't start until May, but if you wanted to do something this month I'll take you on.” And she's like “Okay that's cool, because I could only do it at this day, at this time.” So I was definitely flexible in helping her out with that. So pro tip right there you guys, for those of you that are still hanging out with us. If you're still here, go ahead and give us some likes, some hearts. Tag a friend that you know that's been talking about doing their course, but hasn't done it yet. Cuz this is the episode that they should be watching. Having said that, you guys I can't believe it's already been like 50 minutes. Can you believe that?

Rob Balasabas: Time flies.

Stephanie Liu: Time flies when you're having fun, hey! Alright, so if there are any other questions by all means go ahead and drop them now because if not I'm gonna let these guys go. Because you guys are in Squamish?

Aaron Morin: Yeah! We are in the outdoor sports capital of Canada or the world? I don't know. It’s probably Canada. It’s probably not the world, it’s too small to be of the world. But yeah, it's beautiful out here. It’s pretty foggy, it's kind of rainy, but we're having a good time.

Rob Balasabas: There’s actually a really good conference though, heads up. Something to look out for - CIMC.

Stephanie Liu: Wait, what conference is it?

Rob Balasabas: It's the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference. So it's like, who was here… Twitter, all of the big social media guys are here. HootSuite, Twitter, Airbnb, Amazon - there’re all here. Just hanging out in the forest.

Stephanie Liu: Well, cool! I’m gonna let you guys go. We've got a lot of thank you comments in here. Michelle says “This was a brilliant session guys! Thank you for the time, and content!!!” Riann, I think you helped her with a couple of breakthroughs as well. Geriann said that this is amazing. So thank you all so much for joining us and we will talk to you guys later! Oh, P.S by the way, I totally forgot. If you guys want to be notified the next time I go live, just go and leave the comment “Subscribe” and then Robo-Steph will go ahead and jump in and let you know. All right? Cool. Ok you guys say bye!

Aaron Morin & Rob Balasabas: Alright everybody, thank you so much for spending time with us. We appreciate your time, it's always awesome to connect with go-getters out there. We love you guys, so thank you. Appreciate it, thank you guys.

Stephanie Liu: Bye everyone! Take care.

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Have you been thinking of launching an online course?

If you answered yes, then you’re in luck! 

The Thinkific crew is joining Lights, Camera, Live this week and we’re talking about online courses - everything from idea to launch. Learn how to create an online course and what it actually takes to earn a living creating online courses.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU'LL LEARN

  • Tips & Tricks for Researching Your Course
  • Best Equipment & Software to Start Recording
  • No Fuss Launch Plan

RESOURCES

MUSIC

ABOUT STEPHANIE LIU

Stephanie Liu is one of the most sought-after speakers on Facebook Live video, known for her dynamic stage presence and cutting-edge Facebook engagement tactics. As an ad agency veteran, Stephanie has helped Fortune 500 companies and small businesses skip the guesswork on how to build their brand online with social media. She has spoken at Interactive Day San Diego, Social Media Day San Diego, Social Video Con and coaches small business owners on how to leverage live video in their own business.

 
 

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