Epic 30 Day Course Building Challenge - The Outcome

 

If you were following along with the challenge, you may have noticed that the updates stopped around Day 14 of the 30 day challenge.

As awesome as it would have been to continue with the daily updates, it got to the point where I realised that creating the course PLUS marketing the course & list building PLUS juggling full time client work, just didn’t leave enough hours in the day to also keep going with the updates.

Something had to go and it wasn’t going to be the course and it wasn’t going to be my client work and it wasn’t going to be the course so the daily updates got the arse sorry! Continuing them got a little overwhelming. 🤪

Which means you might be wondering…

Did I make it?

Just in case you have no idea what I am talking about - I decided to take on an EPIC mission in April and complete an entire online course AND market it, completely from scratch in just 30 days, check this post here for more info if you want to learn more about the challenge.

epic 30 day online course building challenge finale.png
 

Yes I did!🎊

Oh yeah, I made it 💪

Business 101… Literally is now officially live and open for enrolment 🎉🎉

 
 

But holy fuckamoly, it was a mission!! (and I am not counting that technically it was 3am on the 2nd of May that I launched, not the 1st of May, because I vowed not to go to bed until the course was up and running!)

I checked rescue time and I worked 356 hours in April 😱 and that doesn’t count the time I worked on my phone cos sometimes I found phone typing easier after long days sitting at my desk. I suspect it is probably closer to 380-390 hours work during April which is crazy huge!!

That counts my regular client work and voiceover work as well as all the extra work to get the course up and running.

It has taken me a few weeks to recover from it all actually (hence why it has taken me almost three weeks to get this post done!)

So whilst I made it, I think if you want to try something like this yourself, perhaps a smaller course, a little more time or being able to focus just on the course would be a good idea! Not sure doing it in the full on way I hit it is the best thing for your mental or physical health ;)

But it is (pretty much) done now and whilst it was crazy full on, the month went SOOOOO fast and I got there!

I now have an asset I can sell into the future and have learnt A LOT in the process which will not only help me for future course production, but will also help me work with clients who are creating their first course as I now have a deep understanding of how to create and launch a product and all the tech involved to make it happen.

With all the last minute stress, I was EXTREMELY grateful I didn’t go down the path of pre-selling an unfinished course - which is widely recommended (and I really don’t understand why). If I had pre-sold it would have added SO much pressure and put unnecessary stress on me, so whilst I didn’t get the benefit of getting people signing up before I had made the course and validating it as such, I’m glad I decided to build first.

So lets have a look at how it all came together,

Marketing and growing my list

At the start of April, I had pretty much no-one on my list, this was a brand new website/biz. It was friends, family and a handful of clients - basically no-one I could sell to. Which put me at a huge disadvantage.

In hindsight I probably should have spent a month or two building up the list first, so I wasn’t starting from actual ground zero.

I spent well over half the challenge month on those list building activities - creating lead magnets, posting on social media etc, but found I was spread pretty thin juggling everything with my paid client work and the course creation itself as well.

Some things worked better than others, lets take a look at what worked and what didn’t.

Free Business Planning Course

The thing that worked best by far in terms of growing my email list was the free course on business planning.

This has consistently generated sign ups (and still is), mainly from Pinterest. I created several different pins, which seemed to do really well through tailwind tribes. I upgraded my tailwind tribes powerups to unlimited so I could get more shares and have now joined 34 tribes, so that meant those pins got a lot of shares. Totally worth it!

I also promoted several of the pins, which drove additional traffic to the course. I spent a total of $68 on Pinterest promoted pins which is not much really and still have one pin more going at $1 per day. To date 47 people have signed up for the free course, which is pretty good, however none have yet converted to the paid course.

I was intending on spending more on paid ads, however I don’t think my funnel is optimised to make the most of the traffic I am sending it yet, so I will bump it up once I fix all those elements up - such as the sales page and upsell to the free course (and the email nurture series).

I think I can improve the sign up “sales” page for the free course, as it doesn’t seem to get as many people signing up for the course as I would have thought.

Also to make the most of the free course, I would like to make the course to be more of a funnel or pathway to the paid course, rather than just a way to build my list.

When I first created the free course, I just thought of it as a list building tool, but really it should be more like a funnel to drive people to buy the paid course - especially as Business 101.. Literally, will be available all the time (evergreen) rather than the on off launches that seem so popular.

I also need to do some work on the email sequence when people join the free course - I dropped the ball on all my email sequences, which is ironic considering how highly I rate email marketing!

Not only is it important to get those who sign up for the course and never look at it again (which is a lot!) but also to help build the relationships with people on my list better.

That is all high on my priority list to deal with now I’m back with the world again!

Giveaway

I’ve gotta say, the giveaway completely surprised and disappointed me... despite essentially being the biggest cost (even though it’s just my hours, it will still be 20 hours I can’t work with anyone else in a paid capacity) it has had the lowest response.

A $1595 prize and I practically had to beg people to enter.

People will happily sign over their emails for a crappy spreadsheet or checklist, but not for a chance to win over $1500 of free coaching?!? Could be a reflection of the coaching industry, or perhaps people are just over freebies? No idea why it was such a flop 🤷‍♀️

I was told there were some issues with my form, so I stopped using Gleam. One person said they couldn’t see an entry form at all and one told me it crashed their computer when they signed up.

BUT, despite originally thinking those technical problems that could be the issue, I didn’t notice a difference in take up when I changed to using a manual form either. I revised the copy a few times and despite heaps of traffic to that competition page, alas there were very few entries. It just didn’t convert. I only had 36 people enter the competition, I honestly though I would have hundreds.

At least the winner is SUPER excited to be working with me, so that is a giant bonus, I am sure I’ll enjoy it.



Free checklist ☑️

I spent a LOT of time creating this checklist, so did hope it would go a little better, but also didn’t perform quite as well as I would have liked (though it is currently generating 3-4 sign ups a week with zero effort on my part now its done - so not all is lost. This is mostly coming from Pinterest, despite me not being that active on the platform for the last few weeks.)

I got a lot of traffic to the checklist landing page (this was part of my pinterest promoted pins strategy - I promoted pins for a week to the checklist) BUT it didn’t get as many conversions to download the form as I would have expected.

I will need to look at the copy and A/B test it or see how it can be improved.

The checklist is available in two separate parts of my website:

  • the landing page from Pinterest (where I am driving any traffic advertising the checklist to)

  • in the footer of the website

  • PLUS I also added sumo to my teachable page, so if anyone goes to teachable, they get a pop up with an invite to download the checklist. I have captured 25 emails from sumo/teachable site, but most of the people who sign up for the checklist do the business planning course anyway, so it is more just a bonus for them.

I’ve had a few issues with the signups in the footer of my site and got a bit frustrated with the way I set this up - a) because of a spam issue and b) the double opt-in on the email.

I know it is best practice to have a double opt-in on emails - but it is crazy frustrating that less than 50% of the people who sign up for the checklist are clicking on the confirmation email (that goes for both the footer and the landing page).

I’ve reworded the confirmation a couple of times, but it hasn’t affected the % of confirmations. Not sure if that is because the confirmation is hitting their spam box so they aren’t seeing it?

So I need to consider whether to make the checklist a single opt in, or play around with the confirmation email some more.

I’ve also had an issue with Convert Kit and what seems like spambots randomly signing up to the optin that I set up on my footer.

I did some research and discovered a common problem with bots using random email addresses to sign up for some reason. The problem with these is that people don’t realise their email is being used this way, so they think it is spam and I’ve already been pinged 9 times for spam and have almost 200 people on my list that didn’t sign up for it.

No solutions at this point, as Convert Kit have told me they are having problems with the reCaptcha form that would stop that (reCaptcha’s fault apparently), so my option is to turn the form off or to keep getting the bots signing up. I keep alternating between the two - neither seem like great options.

It is only this particular opt-in box that is causing me issues, so I may try to re-do the form and see if that helps.

And as per the free course, I also still need to get a welcome sequence set up for those that subscribe to the list via the checkbox... Bit annoyed with myself for not getting that welcome sequence done sooner!

For the future with optins

I also need to check out Convert Kit properly to make sure I haven’t over complicated things. It is a really powerful system which is what makes it so great, but I already have dozens of tags and different sequences happening, so I need to make sure these are all working properly. Part of the issue with having so many different lead magnets is I now have all these different lists and tags and sequences, so I need to make sure they are all set up effectively and make sure there aren’t any double ups with emails.

Need a super clear head for that - multiple sequences doing multiple things is a bit of a minefield!

Also, with the checklist opt-in not getting as much love as I thought it would, I’m also tossing up making a single “get my free resource Library” type of opt in lead magnet, rather than all these different ones for the future. Could be worth experimenting with so then I just have a single welcome sequence.

The course creation

I must admit, I did underestimate how much time this would all take (by a LONG shot).

As I knew the material inside out, I figured it would just take me a few days (maybe 5 days total) to get all the videos done, which was rather naive to say the least!

I could have possibly done it faster if it wasn’t for a few technical issues - ie discovering after doing 20 videos, that the sound only worked on 2 of them!

(Cue lots of swearing and yelling)

But generally these things tend to take a lot of time - which I should have realised considering I work with audio and video recordings day in day out. Lesson learned!

So the production for the video modules of the course went like this:

At first I thought I would use loom to record everything. It’s free, on chrome browser and seemed really easy.

But I didn’t like that it recorded the entire screen, not just the powerpoint presentation... so I decided to use snagit instead as I’d used that before. I was lured by the promo page that said it could also blur out part of the screen, highlight parts etc...

..until I discovered all those features only worked for screen shots, not video screen capture.

So in the end, apart from being able to select which part of the screen to record, it wasn’t much different to loom, as the editing was super basic as well (could only clumsily edit bits off the start and finish and VERY roughly try to edit sections out of the middle, which was super painful)

And for some reason, snagit did not play well with my computer system and kept changing the audio settings.

Worse, in the middle of recording the audio changed to a barely perceptible level.

Super super frustrating and set me back a few days or more trying to work it all out, get the system working etc. Plus I was hampered as well by using a new computer, so I had a new set up etc.

Finally got all that sorted and went back to using Loom as originally planned and everything was MUCH better.

Luckily, I have in built tech support at my house in the form of a 16 year old boy (thanks Patrick!). My son Pat edited the videos in adobe premiere pro and was able to easily zoom in on the area I needed ie just the powerpoint, so it didn’t matter that it recorded the whole screen. Brilliant!

The main problem with my time estimating issues, is that I didn’t realise how long it would take me to write up slides and then record presentations for over 100 videos.

I was able to get most of them recorded in one take which was nice (with some minor editing).

But quite a few of them I wasn’t totally happy with and want to re-do.

A handful I did re-do but most of them I decided to leave as is. It took every ounce of my vow to resist my own perfectionism and put them up anyway.

The first time I tried to create a course 3 years ago - the re-doing to try make things perfect, is a big part of what stopped me in my tracks and meant the course never got finished and I was determined to get this course made.

I figured I would get everything done and the course launched THEN redo the videos if need be.

Done is better than perfect after all!

The content is still really good, I just want to make it better. Just gotta decide if I redo them now, or wait til I get feedback from all the beta testers of the course.

My system for making each video lesson was:

  1. Make slides in google slides (I made a background image in Canva that I set as the master slide)

  2. Record voiceover with the slides on screen capture using loom.

    I did the recording in my voiceover booth so the sound was extra nice, but it also worked OK using apple headphones. The only recommendation if you use headphones is to tape the cord near the microphone to your clothing so it doesn’t move around too much and pick up rustling and extra noise.

  3. Edit videos in premiere pro. If I made a mistake (or just needed to pause) I did a clap, which made it easy for my son to find the part he needed to edit.

  4. Then.. upload all the video files into teachable.

This is where things got a little unstuck and it took an entire day to get unstuck!

Uploading to teachable

When I first did the course outline back at the start of the month, I created a rough draft, then moved everything into Asana (my favourite free project management system).

It was easy to see, I created a task for each lesson and all the tasks for each lesson could be added as sub tasks, I added colour coded labels to make sure I knew where each bit was up to and I updated it as I went along. See how easy to follow it is!

my online course outline and plan in asana - each lesson a task, with subtasks

However, the course outline was just an outline - almost like a detailed draft and sometimes I would find when it came time to writing the slides that two lessons were really one and sometimes I found one lesson needed to be split into two.

So that initial outline changed quite a bit.

And as I went along, I changed the names of a few lessons to be the actual names of the lessons, rather than a description of what the lesson would be about (which is what I started with)... so the lesson tasks in Asana ended up with mostly different names to their original name.

However, in the middle of the month when I first started on teachable, I thought I’d be able to save myself some time later, by creating all the lessons in teachable - naming the lesson from the task I had created in Asana

Good idea in theory - but at that stage I hadn’t created the slides renamed everything and turned the draft outline, into an actual outline.

So all the work done to create the lessons in teachable, ended up being a giant headache as it didn’t all match Asana.

Some lessons were moved around and it was really difficult to see where things were at. Navigating around a course with 100 lessons seemed to freak Teachable out a bit - especially if I tried to re-order things... the page would flicker and I wasn’t able to move a teachable lesson more than 10 places at a time, so moving lessons around once I had created them all was super painful!

Unfortunately - it all just became a bit of a confusing mess. To be honest, I probably would have been better to just delete the whole thing and start again, than trying to find the right lesson, then add the video THEN move it all around.

For future courses, creating the lessons in Teachable will be the LAST thing I do and I will do it in order - as per the outline/plan in Asana, so I don’t need to move anything around or faff about it with it.

It may have been easier if I had numbered all the lessons or modules but I am very glad I didn’t, due to how many times the order of the lessons and even modules changed over the month.

I am SO SO SO glad a read a blog post from Paige Brunton about her tips for first time course creators and NOT numbering the slides... ie this is module 2 lesson 1 etc, or I would have spent days redoing/renumbering, so thank you Paige !!!

Keeping track of it all in Asana was a great idea, but if I had waited until all the videos were completed and THEN create the lessons in teachable, it would have saved a lot of time.

The content creation itself wasn’t too stressful, mainly because the information in the course, I know inside out, so 95% of it just came right out of my head, with a few bits and pieces double checked and referenced.

The main problem was my optimistic outlook on how long it would all take to create over 100 videos (and slides etc) - it is a big course after all and that is a LOT of content!

The sales page

This is probably one of the most important parts of launching a course and I did NOT do it the justice it deserved. I wanted to finish creating the content first, but that took a whole WEEK longer than expected, so the week I thought I would have to create my sales page, was more like half a day.

I joined Copyhackers Copy School in March and one of the courses was 10X Sales Pages, which I wanted to use to help me build the sales page. Probably would have been a good idea to go through the introduction to the course before making that decision, as I found out I would need probably a week or more of research under my belt to be able to effectively build the page.

So I had to make the best of what research I did have and pulled together the entire sales page on launch day in about 6 hours instead of the two weeks suggested… (Not recommended to do that!)

I am aiming to re-do the page by the end of May so I can start driving traffic through my sales funnel, so I need to improve the copy and also make the page look a LOT better!

I’m not loving Teachable’s sales page builder - especially coming from squarespace. I had one person say it looked a bit amateur.. so I want to look into alternatives. I’ve seen a teachable page builder, but that is another $20 a month. Or I can build on squarespace, then link thrivecart to it for a checkout.

That was far too complicated for me to get my head around at the time, but I think I should look into it now, so I can optimise the sales page better... Plus I can track the traffic better and potentially re-route it to my page rather than someone clicking away forever.

I’d also like to experiment with optin monster/sumo to see if a full or half page landing mat would help capture emails better.

One thing I am a little bummed about is not having enough time to study the 10x sales pages course, with leaving that part until the last day. I’ve also not get done much work on the 10 x email course, which will very much help me in future.

My course emails had pretty low open rates (20% or less) and less than 1% clickthrough... I also didn’t write any teaser emails through the month, which was totally a lost opportunity.

This is an area I really fell down on and is one of those BIG areas for improvement for next time. Maybe because I was working with two clients writing email sequences, maybe because I was exhausted or maybe due to good old procrastination, I have not yet set up my email sequences properly - which is just crazy.

All these things will absolutely help me improve for the future. Fingers crossed once I get all this in place and improve the course a bit, I’ll be able to do a bit of a relaunch and it will be much more successful.

the results

So how did I actually go? Was it all worth it?

Well, not yet.

I have just 3 paid students so far and the income from those just covers the costs, so I am going to make sure I get the evergreen sales funnel sorted for optimal conversion by the end of May, so I can start some ads to drive traffic and get this making me some sweet sweet cash!

Costs incurred:

$138 teachable
$98 gleam
$59 tailwind
$60 Pinterest ads
$10 loom

Total $365

Plus the time investment for course creation and all the marketing work and the 20 hours of online business management giveaway is pretty substantial.

But I do think that was worth it. Say 150-200 hours work, to create an asset that I can sell into the future. If I look at my time investment in $$ cost, I will need to sell over $15k worth of enrolments, which is very very doable. I am aiming within 6-8 months to be making $5k per month from the course, so I think it was very worthwhile.

I shall update this post in the future and report on whether my longer term plans for the course have worked as intended.

Would I make another course?

Hell yes I will!

Once I get the current course tidied up a bit, I’d like to create a series of mini courses to sell for $29-99 which go deeper on specific topics, so those who want more info can easily get it and it gives a cheaper entry point for people to try out my teaching as well.

Course topics like:

  • Email marketing/list building

  • Business idea validation

  • Driving traffic from Pinterest

  • Making the most of facebook

  • Productivity

  • Project Management tools like Asana

  • Freelancing

If I try do one new small course say every eight weeks once I’ve got the main course to a place I’m happy with, I’ll build up a nice resource for people and a good little passive income stream.

So how did the follower numbers end up?

Instagram 70 🔼 41 from a start point of 29
Pinterest 368 🔼313 from a start point of 55
Email list 152 🔼 146 from a start point of 6
Facebook 102 🔼 51 from a start point of 51
Twitter 37 🔼 from a start point of 3
Coffees ☕ 4 million (Probably a good thing I took on a new retainer client in the coffee industry last month!!)

Nice to see the follower and subscriber numbers increasing - to be fair, I probably should have spent some time building those numbers up BEFORE building the course.

It wasn’t like one platform was high and the rest were low, ALL the numbers were low, so getting people to buy the course was always going to be challenging.

If you look at the standard 1-2% conversion rate, my sales are pretty much right on expectations and I didn’t do as much as I could have to nurture my small list to improve that (small lists need FAR more care for higher conversion).

In order to give myself the best chance to make it work ongoing, some paid traffic is probably the best plan while I am still building my followers and email list, but before spending money on traffic, I need to make sure my website, sales page and free course are converting, as I am very sure they could all be better optimised.

any questions?

If you are thinking of creating a course, I totally recommend it! A big mission for sure, but if you started with a small course and go up from there, totally achievable!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’d be happy to help!

If you did want to get a course up and running soon, Teachable are running a pretty awesome Creators Challenge during June, July and August with some prizes and swag up for grab. There is lots of extra help with things like webinars and extra training in TeachableU - which you get access to with any paid plan.

I did do a LOT of research on what is the best course platform to use and whilst teachable isn’t totally perfect, it is the best option in my opinion.

Anyway, that is it! A giant, epic post, well done for getting to the end, the blog shall go back to regular programming now :)

Sue x


Just a heads up

Posts on The Unicorn Assistant may contain affiliate links, but I’m a no bullshit affiliate kinda gal, as you can read about in my affiliate disclaimer.

The few $$ I make from affiliate income, costs you absolutely nothing and goes straight to our family holiday fund
✈️ so my kids and I thank you 💗

 
 
 

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