125. The ONLY Way Online Course Creators Can Make Money with Facebook Ads

12 Oct 2021 | By Salome Schillack

Hands up if you've ever said:

"Ads have never worked for me."

"I've never been able to find a good ads manager."

"My ads manager couldn't find the right audience for me."

It’s time to address the big, ugly, destructive lie that makes so many online course creators very sad! 

Facebook Ads have never made anyone any money!

When you pay for ads, you're not paying for more sales. You're paying for more eyeballs who will click to a landing page, sign up for all your launch things, and eventually purchase your course.

Your funnel is what converts all those eyeballs into dollar dollar bills! And seeing more of those ‘cha ching’ notifications appear in your emails all comes down to how well you market to people. 

The good news is there's no need to run out the door and sign up for a marketing degree because most of the information you need is sitting right under your nose! All the data you have, from your sales page views, email opening rates, and click-through rates from your ads, all bring little clues about what is pricking your target audience’s attention, and what they have literally no interest in . 

Once you understand how to interpret this golden information, do more of what's working well, and phase out what isn't…. Guess what?


Wondering where to start? I’ve got good news.

This week on The Shine Show, I delve right in and share all my hot tips for how to nail your marketing by cleaning up your funnels and 

Together we're going to discover:

  • WHY ads fall flat, and how to avoid this happening to you
  • The industry benchmarks when it comes to conversions and what rates you should be looking for
  • How to understand what is and what is not working for you
  • Where to find the data that will transform everything! 

PLUS so much more!




P.S I LOVE hearing your feedback about the show. DM me on Instagram (@salome.schillack) and let me know if this episode has inspired you to make a change to your funnels or marketing and what steps you’ll be taking to avoid the ad flop!

When you subscribe and review the podcast not only does that give me the warm and fuzzies all over, it also helps other people to find the show.

When other people find the show they get to learn how to create more freedom in their lives from their online courses too!!

So do a good deed for all womenkind and subscribe and review this show and I will reward you with a shout out on the show!!


175. We’re Taking A Break. Here’s Why And How You Can Do It Too


174. Some Thoughts On Making Lots Of Money


173. 3 Reasons NOW Is The Best Time To Start A Digital Courses Business with Amy Porterfield


172. 25 Biggest Lessons In Online Marketing I Learned From Amy Porterfield


171. Social Media: One Thing That Makes All The Effort Worthwhile


170. How to Choose the Right Name for Your Online Course


169. Content Planning For Posts VS Content For Your Course And Launches


168. Managing Your Money As A Small Business Owner with Darcie Milfeld


167. 3 Lies You Were Told About Hiring An Ads Manager


166. How To Create Your Online Course Faster with Gina Onativia


165. The Only Way Low Dollar Offers Are Working Today


164. New Ad Targeting Options That Are Working Now

Hello, and welcome to episode number 125 of The Shine Show. Today's show is called: The only way online course creators can make money with Facebook ads. I don't know about you, but I just love this time of year. I just wanted to say hi to you and say, I hope you are also enjoying this kind of wind down towards the end of the year. I love quarter four, because quarter four is about wrapping things up, cleaning things up and planning for the new year. And goodness gracious me, let's hope 2022 has some really good stuff installed for everyone, including a lot of freedom. Like Tahlia, I have country cabin fever. I have state cabin fever. We've been stuck inside Queensland for the better part of two years. And I know that that is not by any means the worst thing that's happened to anyone due to COVID, but man, I'm ready to get on an airplane.

So I just want to say, as we kind of start going into the festive season, I want you to think about what has worked really well in your business this year. What are you going to keep doing? What are the things that are causing overwhelm and stress and tiredness, and that's not working well? And let's sit down at some point and really design 2022 for ourselves now. Let's start calling it into life. Let's start calling into life the way we want to live, the money we want to earn, the clients we want to work with, students we want to attract, the hours we want to work, and let's build healthy, wholesome businesses together.

All right, today on the episode, I am going to share with you the only way, the only, only way online course creators can make money with Facebook ads. And I'm willing to bet it's not what you think it is. Enjoy.

Giving up your time and freedom to make money is so 2009. Hi. I'm your host, Salome Schillack. I help online course creators launch, grow, and scale their businesses with Facebook and Instagram ads so that they can make more money and have an even bigger impact in the world. If you're ready to be inspired, to dream bigger, launch sooner, and grow your online business faster, then tune in because you are ready to shine. This is The Shine Show.

On the agency side of our business, where we run ads for online course creators and membership hosts, we recently worked with a client who has a fabulous business. This business makes millions dollars, has been around for a long time, and from the outside really looks like a healthy business. However, the client came to us saying that they are feeling frustrated and they're feeling stuck and they're getting angry because they've hired all these ads managers in the past to help them run ads and ads have just never really worked for them. That was the client's words. Ads have just never really worked for them.

Now there's a little bit of a red flag that comes up for me when I hear someone say, "Ads have never worked for me." Or when they say something like, "My ads manager didn't make my launch work." I'm going to tell you guys today why that is the biggest lie you can believe and what to believe instead if you want to make money, lots of money from your ads, because the truth is Facebook ads, Facebook and Instagram ads have never, never, ever made anyone any money. Facebook ads pays for eyeballs. It pays for more eyeballs. It pays for more eyeballs who click to a landing page. It pays for more people with their eyeballs and their clicking fingers to sign up for webinars and video series and challenges and all sorts of launch thingies. And it brings people to sales pages. The thing that converts those eyeballs into dollar, dollar bills is funnels, it is how well you market to those people. So on today's episode, we're going to unpack all of this a little bit.

When this client told me ads have never really worked for her, I said, "Okay, let's run some ads, but before we start spending thousands of dollars, what I want to do is I want to take $3,000." Now I know for some of you, $3,000 might sound like a lot, but on an average funnel where we want to get a clean data run of enough people starting at the beginning of the funnel and coming down all the way to the bottom of the funnel, we would typically take about $3,000 to get enough people through that funnel. So I said, "Let's take $3,000 and run these ads over a period of two weeks and we track every single conversion point."

And by every single conversion point, I mean, we track the CPM, we track the click-through rate, we track the landing page conversion rate for the lead magnet. We track the open rates for the emails. We track the click-through rate from the emails. We track the number of people who saw the sales page and we track the sales conversion page. So every little conversion point along the way in this funnel, we are tracking that.

And then let's meet up again at the end of these two weeks and unpack that and see what we can learn based on the way that the data shows that people moved through your funnel. Because if ads have never really worked for you and nobody has ever taken the time to sit down with you to track your data, go through it and understand where did all those eyeballs that I paid for go to, then of course, you're going to believe ads haven't worked for me. Because if you think it is an equation of ad money, ad dollars going in, sales dollars coming out, and that is cause and effect. But you don't understand what happened between when the dollars went in and when the dollars came out, then it is... Of course, it's normal and natural to think, "Well, ads didn't work for me because I put the money in, but I didn't get the money out."

But here's the thing. Unless you can sit down with someone like us or a data and analytics person, or you have someone like that on your team, or maybe you're really good at tracking data, unless you can look at all of those conversion points, you're never really going to diagnose the problem. It kind of ends up being a little bit like saying, "I've had a broken foot for so long and I keep treating my arm, but my broken foot isn't getting any better." You see, it doesn't make sense.

Somewhere along the line, somewhere along the way, online course creators have been told that the way to make money is to run ads. And if I find the person who started spreading that line, I am going to do some nasty, nasty things to that person because it is the lie that makes so many online course creators, incredibly sad, frustrated, and waste thousands of dollars. I see people wasting thousands, tens of thousands of dollars because they believe that ads is the thing that's going to make them money. And they never get to the point where they diagnose the real problem where someone sits down with them and goes, "You shouldn't be treating your arm. You have a broken foot. Fix the foot and the problem goes away."

So yes, I'm getting passionate about this because I see this too often. I feel like it is my mission in life. Like your mission, should you choose to accept it, is just save all these online course creators from this terrible lie that they continue to believe that Facebook ads is the thing that makes them money. I kind of see people then, once I burst this bubble for them, once I help them see that the funnel is the thing that's broken, I see them falling into two different categories.

They fall into the first category, which is the people who are incredibly grateful that we've helped them identify the problem, that we've helped them see what needs fixing, and then they can go away and fix it. Or they stay in this blame, putting the onus on someone else's bubble, which is their prerogative. Everybody has a choice, but what I tend to hear people then say is one of two things. Either they continue to say, "Well, ads have just never worked for us." Or they say something like, "Well, I've just never been able to find a good ads manager." Or, "The ads managers have hired have never been able to find the right audiences for me."

If you've ever said any of those things, I just need you to pause for a moment, just pause for a moment and think about whether or not someone has ever really helped you unpack your entire funnels conversion points, every single point and put it into context based on what we see happening in the real world, based on what we see conversion averages are. Because there are these averages where we can go, well, okay, a sales page should convert at roughly a certain percentage in this kind of funnel. We can compare it and we can say, "If the average is 20% and yours converted at 2%, there's a clue for us as to where to start fixing this funnel."

But if someone holds on to this belief that it's the ads manager, or it's the ads, or they didn't find the right people, or ads have never worked for us, that is a incredibly disempowered position to be in. Because if you continue to believe that the problem with your broken foot is your arm, you're never going to fix the real problem. You're going to keep chasing your tile, and that makes me very, very, very, very, very sad.

What are ads and what can they do?

Ads is basically just traffic. We call it traffic. We even refer to ads as traffic. We call ourselves traffic people. We call ourselves ad buyers because ads is just traffic and spending money on ads just means you're going to increase your traffic.

Now, most of the time when we spend money on ads during launches, the majority of that budget goes to cold audiences. So they go to people who've never, ever, ever heard about us or seen us. So if I work working with the students inside the launch lounge, what I teach them is to use your ad money, to build your email list first. Get your email list to at least a thousand people or more, and then only launch your course to your email list because your email list is not cold traffic. They are warm traffic. They are people who love you. They're people you're nurturing. They're people who adore you, who would go to the ends of the earth for you. And so of course, when you make your offer to them and they buy and they eat it up like hotcakes, you have proof of concept. Now you know your amazing course will sell to a warm audience.

Now, another thing that I see happening so much is someone would be nurturing their email list, telling them about a course that's coming in six months, four, six months. And for six months be warming them up. And then they sell to this list that they've built up over time and nurtured, and they make a ton of money. And it's fantastic. And then the hire an ads manager, and they do the same thing, exact same thing that they did to their list, but they do it to cold traffic and suddenly it doesn't make money. Guess what they say, "Ads have never worked for us. My ads manager couldn't find the right people." All the same things because the first launch was super duper warm. And then they expected the same thing to happen to super duper cold people.

That is why I teach all the students inside The Launch Lounge and in A-Lister to build your email list first, make your offer to that list. If your offer takes you up on that, if your list takes you up on the offer, fantastic. Now go back to list building, and then do a... What shall we call it? A mild launch. A warm and cold launch. So this time you warm up your list again, but this time you add a little bit... Like take half of your budget, spend it on list building, take half of your budget and spend it on cold traffic to the webinar or the video series or whatever you're using to launch your course so that you have like lukewarm people, not all cold, not all warm, lukewarm.

And if it works to a lukewarm audience, guess what? Chances are it might also work to a cold audience. But as you progress through this process of launching to a cold audience, every time you launch, you're going to learn new things about your audience. Every time you launch, you're going to discover new ways you can optimize your funnels, new ways you can improve your funnels. And every time you improve your funnels, you're going to get better and better and better, and your conversion rates are going to get higher and higher and higher.

However, as you move from warm audiences to cold audiences, you will see that your conversion rates, overall, are very likely to come down significantly because cold people who have just met you on a social media app, behave differently to people who have been on your email list all along.

Two things you should do right now, if you fall into the ads have just never worked for us categories. The first one is you need to fix your belief, that ads equal money. Stop treating your broken leg with a bandage on your arm.

The second thing is you need to start tracking all of your conversion points in your funnels and diagnosing the real problems and fixing them with the audiences you have, with the warm audiences before moving to cold audiences.

What I mean by tracking your conversion points in your funnel is, I mean, your link click-through rate from your ads should be higher than 1%. Your landing page conversion rate on your lead magnets or on your webinars should be more than 45%. Your email open rates should be hitting at least 35% if it's a promotion. Your link click-through rates from your emails, track those. I'd say I want them at least to be three or 4%. And then clicks to sales page, you need to be tracking those because you need to make sure that you're getting enough eyeballs on your sales page and then conversions from your sales page. So track your sales page conversion rate. We want the sales page to convert at least 20% of the people who come to the page.

What do we say when someone insists that, "Well, what if we have the wrong audiences? What if we were targeting the wrong people? What if we did... What if our funnels would have converted had we targeted people differently?" I just want to share that there's... One of the things that I teach inside of our courses is there's three key ingredients. If you imagine a Venn diagram for a second, there's three key ingredients that goes into not into a successful launch, into building a successful online courses business. So every online course launch, every successful online course launch a business has these three things working really well.

The first thing is the messaging. You know your ideal customer, you know their pain points, you know their desires, and you can craft an offer that is absolutely irresistible to this ideal customer. That's ingredient number one. That is a very important ingredient and it is an ingredient that takes time to learn, really. It's also an ingredient that you learn kind of through falling in your face a few times and asking for feedback and learning and listening to your audience.

The second ingredient is traffic. Facebook ads. There you go. That's where the Facebook ads manager comes in and the Facebook ads manager contributes traffic, and you need traffic. You need an audience because you can't sell to nobody. You need an audience, a big enough audience. And the best way to get a big enough audience is to run traffic.

The third thing you need is a conversion mechanism that works. What I mean by that is a conversion mechanism... I'm looking for a cooler name for this than conversion mechanism, because it sounds so mechanic. But so if you can help me come up with a better name for conversion mechanism, let me know. The conversion mechanism is basically either an email sequence, a webinar, a video series, a challenge, a workshop, what ever your preferred choice of thingamabobby, event, sequence, series of energy, whatever you want to call it. A series of emails, series of conversations. Whatever that mechanism is that you use to convert people, needs to be proportionate to the dollar value of the course you're selling.

Now, what did I just say? Conversion mechanism needs to be proportionate to the dollar value of what you're saying. I mean, what does that even mean? It means that you can't bring a bazooka to a knife fight. It means that if you are selling a product where the price point is $27 and you invite people to a three-hour long webinar that costs you $5 per lead to fill up, and you require 90 minutes of their attention or three hours of their attention to sell the $27 thing, you're not going to make money. But if you use an automated email sequence where they only have to read one, two, or three emails and take to a sales page to get made an offer for $27 thing, that's a no brainer thing, then your launch mechanism was proportionate to your dollar value of your sale.

It makes sense to use a webinar for a $1,000 course. It makes sense to use a webinar and maybe also a one-on-one conversation for a $5,000 coaching package. It makes sense to use a prerecorded webinar for a 400 to a $1,000 thing. It makes sense to use a four-part video series for a $2,000 thing. So you see how your launch mechanism that you choose is important and also matters that your launch mechanism actually converts these people. That's where your launch mechanism and your offer really comes together. Those are the three important ingredients that everybody needs to build successful online course, launch business's messaging, traffic, and a conversion mechanism.

I call these three things, the three ingredients for you to be able to identify your most profitable customer journey. Because if you can nail your messaging, you nail your traffic and you nail your conversion mechanism, then what you'll start to see is there is a pattern in how people move through your funnels from the very first time they hear or see you on social media, to when they opt in for your lead magnet, to when they sign up for your webinar, to when they become sales in the end. Think about that and ask yourself, is your messaging working? Is your traffic working and is your conversion mechanism working? Because those are going to be the things that are going to contribute to your success. And those are going to be the things that's going to get you out of that why ads can never work for us or what if we had the wrong audiences lies. All right.

Here are a few things you should do, or you can do to ensure your funnels convert well.

Number one, test your messaging using engagement ads, which are the cheapest ads. You can run $5 a day, your based social media posts to lots of different cold audiences and see which messages land best for which audiences. What you're looking for is message market match. So you're looking for the messaging in your ad, the hook in your ad, why the people are associating with you, the featured product in your ad, or the pain points that you address in your ad. You're looking for people to associate with that and engage with your ad. And when you're targeting a few different interest-based audiences, and you see that one actually showed more interest in your messaging than another one, then that's a clue for when you start running conversion ads. So use cheap ads to test your messaging and to test your targeting. Because if you can identify three or four, nice, big, cold interest-based audiences, or a few good lookalike audiences with your engagement ads, then you've done the research with cheap ads. You don't have to do the research when you're running your webinar ads. So number one, test your messaging.

Number two, build your email list, build your email list, build your email list, build your email list. It is super, super, super important. The first ad, the best ad, the only ad that is ever going to be really of value to you is your list-building ads. So put your money into list-building ads. Before you sign up for any Kajabis or ClickFunnels or any of the more expensive stuff, just get a plain landing page builder and start building your email list. You can find out where your ads convert best long before you launch so that you know you have the right audiences by the time you launch if you've built your email list. You also are way more guaranteed of making money if you start by launching to your email list.

Number three is use lots of interest and lookalike audiences. Test them all. Try big lookalikes and small lookalikes. And lookalikes of your email list and lookalikes of your sales list, but also lookalikes of your video views. Also, lookalikes of people who engaged with you on Instagram. Play around with it, have fun and just test it and see what works. The key to making more money with ads is to make money without ads. So spend your ad dollars on list building, test your funnels to your email lists, fix your funnels, optimize your funnels, make sure your funnels are converting, and then hire the very best ads manager you can find to blow up your funnel with even more traffic. And that my friends is how you make money with Facebook ads.

Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. I really, really love, love reading your feedback, your comments, your DMs. Thank you so much. Keep them coming. Send me a DM. I am salome.schillack on Instagram, and I would love to know what you learned today on the episode. What are you going to do differently? What is going to change for you as a result of listening to the episode? Send me a DM. I will personally respond to you. I love, love reading your messages. Thank you very much for being here and let me know what this is doing for you. Cheers.

If you had fun, please come back next week and remember to hit that subscribe button so you never miss a thing.