67. 6 Of the Best Tools For Selling Online Courses on a Low Budget
2 September 2020 | By Salome Schillack
On today's show I'm sharing with you six of the BEST tools for selling online courses if, like most beginning course creators, you're on a low budget.
Before you get into it, I want to remind you that the registration for Amy Porterfield's upcoming masterclass How to Create and Launch A Profitable Digital Course From Scratch is NOW open, and you can register today by going to www.shineandsucceed.com/class.
Check out today's episode to hear my $5000 mistake, the six things you can start using right now to sell your online course, and some HUGE tips on what to do next.
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When other people find the show they get to learn how to create more freedom in their lives from their online courses too!!
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Hello, and welcome to episode number 67 of the Shine Show. And on today's show, I'm going to share with you six of the best tools for selling online courses if you're on a low budget. But before we jump into the episode, I want to remind you that registration for Amy Porterfield's upcoming master class, how to create and launch a profitable digital course from scratch. The five behind the scenes secrets to generate revenue year round is now open, and you can register for that class by going to shineandsucceed.com/class. Now let's discover six of the best tools for selling online courses on a low budget.
Giving up your time and freedom to make money is so 2009. Hi, I'm your host Salome Schillack, and 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. And this is the Shine Show.
Did I ever tell you about my $5,000 mistake? It's a different story to the $4,000 mistake where I had to pay a client back $4,000 because I overspent their budget. That is a mistake and a story for another day. No, no, no, no. This is the story of my $5,000 mistake. And I want to tell you this story, because maybe you'll look at me or you look at my business and you think I have all the tech. I have all the marketing. I have all the people management. I have the advertising figured out. I've got it all figured out, and you will not be wrong, but I'll tell you everything I know I learned the hard way and I have made every single mistake that there is to make. And I know that I'm not done making mistakes. I know that my mistakes are just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger.
So I want you to hear my $5,000 mistake and hear that I want to share that with you, because I believe that the difference between me and other people is that I just never, never, never, never quit. I do not give up. And I learned from my mistakes. And that's why I want to share this story with you so that you can learn from my mistakes and you don't have to make a $5,000 mistake like I did.
So it was towards the end of 2018, business was growing. It was going really well. I was managing ads for about 12 clients by then all by myself. So I felt really excited about the future and I was getting lots of referrals through word of mouth. I'd hired my first assistant and I was super happy with how I was delegating things and handing things off and I felt really good. And then my husband and I decided that we are going to take a six week long holiday and travel through the US together for six weeks.
It had been, I will say it had been a very stressful few years leading up to that because if you remember, if you know my story, you know that my business failed for a long time and I was $40,000 in debt and had to go back to my job. Anyway, I tell the story on another podcast, but we were just coming up for air. Our finances had started to recover. Our timing, we were a bit more rested. Our kids were growing up a little bit and finally the business was working. So we decided we can afford it, we're going to take six weeks off and we're going to travel.
But of course the first thing I thought was, how on this earth am I going to manage traveling for six weeks and still do all the work for my clients? And I realized that it was definitely time to hire some help. I also knew that I had never before hired any ads managers to help me out. So instead of hiring one, I decided to hire three ads managers to take care of the 12 client accounts that I was managing. So in order to create the systems and the communication channels to be able to hand over all 12 of my clients to three different people and know that they're following my processes, I decided that I need the based project management tool out there.
I had already used Asana and I hated it. I tried using Trello, but to this day, I don't understand it. So I went looking for something else and fell right into a project management tool that was specifically designed for agencies. And that was what I was looking to build. Except, I didn't have an agency yet. We were just a bunch of freelancers winging it and making it up as we go. But I thought this fancy tool will help me understand how to create an agency and make it easier to manage my team while I was traveling.
So after the call with the sales team for this fancy tool, I did something that I look at now and I can see as being my first big mistake. I wonder if you are going to associate with this. The first thing I did after my sales call was I applied for a brand new shiny Amex Card. And I put the annual $5,000 payment for this system on that card, knowing that I'm going to pay it off over the next 12 months. Yes, I know I took out a credit. I can hear you cringing. I took out a credit card and whacked $5,000 on it to buy a system that promised me it's going to be the solution to all my problems. Except, that system turned out to be so freaking complicated that I had to hire someone to help us implement it.
And even with this expert's help, we were still stuck on about half of the features that we thought it could do and that turns out it didn't quite do. Later I'll tell you how I got rid of that tool and what it ended up costing me really. It ended up costing me a lot more than $5,000, but here's the truth. You don't need fancy tools. You just don't. The lie that I believed was that if I buy the fancy tool, that means I'm a legit agency. If you're looking to tools or software or that thing that all the cool kids has, I'm just going to say Kajabi, that you believe will somehow qualify you as a real business owner or a real online business, stop it.
If you need permission to be legit, then I give you that permission. And you, my friend are officially legit because you declare that you are. I so wish that I cared less about these things when I started out and focused more on serving my students. It would have saved me a lot of heartache and a lot of money. So here's what you really do need in order to get started with selling and hosting an online course.
Number one, first thing you need, you need a social media platform. Now the good news is most of them are free. And the reason you need a social media platform is because you need a tool. You need some way to attract new people to you and build your relationship with them. And the beauty of living in this age is there are new social media platforms coming out so often. I mean, where was TikTok a year ago? And now all of a sudden it's all a rage. And I can't get people to stop dancing on my Instagram newsfeed because now somehow TikTok has invited Instagram. Social media is the best free way to reach people every single day. So you need a social media platform.
The second thing you need is what we call a CRM. That's a fancy word for a way to capture people's email addresses and send them weekly content. It's called a CRM for customer relationship management. And it comes from the old school sales. Like when I was a pharmaceutical sales rep, we used a CRM where after every call I would type in notes about the person that I spoke to and what the followup is. So that you can keep track of your relationship with people, your sales relationship. Now, for some reason, we still call email service providers or email platforms CRMs. I don't know, because it doesn't make much sense to me, but you need some email CRM that is a way to capture people's email addresses and CRM is also able to create email blasts.
So you can send emails to a lot of people at once without manually putting it into your email and sending it out one by one. And it also allows you to create automations. And with automations I mean, it could be like those first three emails that you send out when someone subscribes to your newsletter or signs up for your lead magnet. You might want to send them three emails in a row just to tell them a little bit more about who you are and how you help people like them. Or when they register for your webinar or your workshop, you might want to send them some reminder emails to tell them when it's happening and what they can expect from it. That's the second thing you need. And I'm going to share with you a free tool that you can use as a CRM.
The third thing you need is a landing page builder. Now this sounds super complicated, but it does not have to be. It just has to be the front page to get people to want to opt in for something. And then a back page that says, thank you for opting in for this thing. Some form of a page where you can capture their email address in exchange for a lead magnet or for signing up for a class. Landing page builders, it's not a website. Doesn't have to be a website. It's just a very simple page with one purpose and that purpose is to entice them to give you their email. That's the third thing you need, a landing page builder.
The fourth thing you need is something where you can host your sales event. And by sales event, what I mean is some kind of a digital, call it a party. Some kind of a digital gathering. A get together where you bring people together, you add massive value to them, and then you guide them on a journey to see that your paid program will help them to get even bigger results. Again, this doesn't have to be expensive and I'm going to give you some options. But that's the fourth thing you need.
The fifth thing that you need is a way for people to pay you. They need to be able to swipe their card or punch the numbers in and vuala, magically money appears in your account. So it can be either something like Stripe or PayPal. We'll look at some options. It doesn't have to be complicated. You just need a way for people to pay you.
The sixth thing you need is a way for people to consume your content. So in other words, somewhere, they can go to learn from you without you having to be in the room to teach them. So let's talk about a few of these solutions. Number one is social media. So of course social media is free, which is great. I mean, I know I'm the Facebook ads girl, but you can definitely use social media for free to build your audience. I know you may need to feel like you're selling your soul on social media, but if that's what you have to do to get started, just get started until you get paid. And once you get paid, you can start putting money into ads. And then when you start putting money into ads, then it gets easier and you can less and less and less and less sell your soul. Okay?
So this episode is not about how not to sell your soul on social media. I've done a whole bunch of them. But what I do want to say is you do need a social media platform. And the best advice that I have for you is to choose just one and make that decision based on where your ideal customer spends time, not based on where you like to spend time.
A lot of people tell me they're not even on Instagram. And then they tell me their target audience is creative females in their 30s. And I go, "Man, you got to be on Instagram." Or they're just on Instagram and then they tell me their target audience is 55 year old women who like knitting, and I go, "Your audiences on Facebook." So maybe it's Facebook for you. Maybe it's Instagram. And Instagram is really four platforms in one if you think about it. But perhaps it's YouTube or Snapchat or TikTok or LinkedIn. There are so many different platforms. I just want you to choose the one where you can pour all of your energy into and be consistent and show up regularly without exhausting yourself. So choose one social media platform. And the good news is that's free.
The second thing you need is your email CRM. The email that I want you to look at that if you are still on a very tight budget, it is Mailchimp. Now I know some people may cringe a little bit when I say Mailchimp, because Mailchimp is what non-serious online marketers use because it's free. And that is just not true. That is not true. Mailchimp has come such a long way. Mailchimp is awesome. I used to use Mailchimp. I have never found a program that I love as much as Mailchimp. Mailchimp gives you a way to capture email addresses. It lets you tag people. It lets you create simple automation so you can deliver all your webinar registration emails or your automations after they sign up.
And here's the best thing. Mailchimp now lets you build landing pages so you can publish your blog on Mailchimp. You can put your website on Mailchimp and you can create your landing pages. And you'll remember that, that was number three, is a way to build landing pages, but it gets even better. These days, Mailchimp integrate with platform called Square and that allows you to create shopable pages. So here's one tool that is your email CRM, it is your landing page builder, and it creates a way for people to pay you. And here's the best thing. You can get all of these features on Mailchimp's free platform on their free account.
And when you're ready to step it up even more they're paid plans starts from only $10 a month. If you're listening to this and you think that money is a reason not to get started. My friend, I want to tell you go to mailchimp.com right now because you have 90% of what you need right there in one tool.
The next tool I want to introduce you to is one that you probably need no introduction to after our beloved COVID-19 shut down the whole world and that is Zoom. So you're going to use Zoom to host that sales event. I call it a sales event. It could be a webinar. It could be a workshop. It could be any kind of what I call a digital party. It is a get together. You're going to get a bunch of people to sign up and join you live and you're going to spend time with them. And the great thing again about Zoom, is Zoom is free up to a 100 participants for 40 minutes.
Now, if I told you I'm hosting a live event, there's going to a 100 people there and you get to talk to them for 40 minutes. And at the end of the 40 minutes, you get to pitch your online course to them. You would be so happy. You'd be so grateful. My friend you have that. Zoom gives you that. A 100 participants for 40 minutes for free. Don't sign up for paid stuff. If you're not sure that you're going to get a 100 people, remember that the value of scarcity. If you tell people there's only a hundred seats available on this class or this workshop or this webinar and it books out, then it books out. That is the best position any marketer can be in. So look at Zoom. Zoom is another great platform to use if you're on a tight budget.
And then finally the last piece of tech you need is the platform to host your course. And I thought long and hard about whether or not I should include something here. Because when I got started, I actually hosted my content on YouTube as content that was only available to people that had the links. And I just sent them the emails. Now, I mean how many people consume the content? That's a conversation for another day, but I decided I am going to share it with you a few platforms you can look at to host your course, so that you know there are options that are very affordable.
The three that I found were podia.com, P-O-D-I-A. Thinkific.com T-H-I-N-K-I-F-I-C, Thinkific and Teachable. T-E-A-C-H-A-B-L-E.com. All three of these platforms have great reviews. All three of these platforms start from us little as $39 a month. It looked to me like Podia's reviews were maybe the best of the three. I can tell you that I have used both Thinkific and Teachable in the past and I loved them and they were great.
And then there's another solution that I want to tell you about because I really, really think this is the best kept secret on the planet. If you already have a WordPress site, you can go for a LearnDash, which is like a plugin to WordPress and you pay an annual fee of $159. Now, if you break that down into monthly payments, that's $13.25 per month. You're going to have to build it yourself. But once you get the hang of how to use it, it's really not that complicated. So you may need to spend a little bit more time on LearnDash than you would Podia, Thinkific or Teachable. And you pay an annual fee instead of a monthly fee. But if you already have a WordPress site, LearnDash is an amazing tool to look at.
So now you know exactly how to get started with building your online courses businesses with only a maximum of $39 per month. No fancy software. We're going to say no to lots and lots of subscriptions including Kajabi, including Canva, including all of those unnecessary subscriptions we all sign up to when we get started that we don't end up using and we're going to confidently use these amazing free or low cost tools.
You know that thing that I told you about at the start where I paid $5,000 for? You know what gets me about that the most is the amount of time I spanked feeling frustrated and not getting work done. The amount of time my team wasted trying to work with a tool that was like bringing a bazooka to a knife fight. Like there was just... We were not ready for this tool. And the number of highly diplomatic yet very assertive emails I had to compose to express my frustration with the difference between what was promised and what was actually delivered. Very expensive mistake, but a very valuable lesson.
You don't need fancy stuff. Just use what works well for where you're at right now. So as you listened to me, share this journey and you start to think about your online courses that you'll be launching. I wonder if you can see that there's just a handful of very easy steps that you need to take in order to get started. I wonder what comes up for you as the first thing you'll stop doing when you've launched your course. For me, it was quitting my job and working on my own terms while I raised my kids. For me, it was not having to take any more agency clients than what I wanted to. It was taking a six week holiday. For me, it's about building a team of amazing women who also get to work from home and create flexible work around their family's needs.
And if this sounds like something that you're ready to explore, then I want you to head over to shineandsucceed.com/class and register to attend any one of the five master classes Amy Porterfield is hosting next week. Amy's giving away an amazing bonus to everyone who signs up and shows up live. I've seen what it is. And all I can say is that if you're wanting to make list of buildings super easy and remove all the time consuming creation of all the pieces, the this is definitely something you'll want to see, but you have to sign up and you have to show up live. So go to shineandsucceed.com/class and sign up for Amy's masterclass now. Have a lovely week and I'll see you next week. Bye.
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