141. Your Course or Your Email List - Which One To Build First

01 Feb 2022 | By Salome Schillack

It’s time to tackle the most asked question in the online course industry….

Which came first, the launch or the list?

Unless you’ve tapped into an unlimited source of time and resources, when first starting out in the online course world, you’re going to have to make some key decisions.

Do you pour your time into perfecting an out-of-this-world, gold standard, polished to perfection, course?


Do you bite the bullet and get serious about growing your email list & social media audience? (Beyond mum's loyal likes).

I get it….thanks to Zuckerberg's pesky algorithms, building an audience can feel like walking through mud. It seems so much more productive to invest your precious time into creating your course content, because heck, if you nail that part, surely the audience will follow - right?

The countless tears I've wiped up tell another story!

I've seen many online course creators invest thousands in creating a course they were confident would take off, only to discover their offer completely missed the mark. They had no option but to watch their hard work trickle down the cyber-drain.

But it doesn't have to be like this!

That's why today on the show, I'm going to share with you exactly how to start becoming profitable sooner by nailing your course offer from the get-go and building your list faster without wasting a stack of time or moolah along the wa

This week on The Shine Show, you'll discover:

  • How to build relationships with people who have never heard of you.
  • The secrets behind ridiculously powerful lead magnets that convert into sales like crazy.
  • The proven strategy that will fast-track your audience growth without sucking your account dry.
  • How to make offers that people actually want.
  • The best time to place your offer in front of your audience to maximize your results

There's no need to wait until you have the perfect, polished, packaged-up course before launching! My hope is that this episode shows you how to be profitable sooner by investing your time and energy in the places that will get you BIG results!




P.S Want to take your list building to the next level and learn how to start making your ad spend moolah back from day one? A-Lister is opening its doors in March. Fresh new content, exciting new opportunities, and juicy BONUSES for everyone on the waitlist. Places are limited, so get in quick! Join the waitlist here and be first in the know. 

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 141. Today, we're going to ask the question, your course or your email list, which one do you build first?

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 are 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.

Well, hello, hello. It is lovely for me to be here with you today and to hopefully help you answer a question that we get asked all the time, which one do I build first? My online course, which is going to take a whole lot of time and effort, or do I build my email list and maybe then don't have anything to sell to them for a long time? At the end of this episode, I want you to know that you can grow your email list while you make money online and while you are working out, what the best way is to make an offer to your audience. Often when we start working on building our online courses, first, we take so much time and effort and pour so much energy into it that by the time it's ready to launch A, we're either exhausted or B, we have lost our mojo.

I don't want you to lose your mojo. I want you to have [foreign language 00:01:48] mojo, and I want you to use that mojo to start making money earlier. Don't wait until you have a course before you are going to launch. But I first want to tell you a story. Way back in 1994, yes, I was 14 years old. A boy invited me, well, maybe I should say he wasn't a boy he was a man, because he was already out of school. He was like 20 years old and he was one of my friend's brothers. This friend of mine was one of seven kids and she was almost around the middle. And so this brother of hers had a little bit of a love interest in me. And I would say I was a little bit taken with him as well, but he was according to my parents too old for me to date, but they did allow us to be friends.

And we were actually really great friends for many, many, many years. And I still think he was a really great, great guy. Anyway, he invited me to come with him to my very first concert, live concert. And so at the ripe old age of 14, I left my hometown and drove with this man for an hour away from my hometown to a big city to Joburg. And we went to watch a Bon Jovi concert. Now I will tell you at that time, I probably didn't know much about Bon Jovi but to this day Bon Jovi as a result of that concert Bon Jovi is one of my absolute favorite artists and Livin' on a Prayer is ingrained in my brain. I love it, it's my feel good song, it's my pump up song, even my kids know it now and we just sing it out loud because it still reminds me of all the good feels I had that day attending my first live concert.

And when we got there, we made sure that we got to the stadium quite early. This is in the 90s in South Africa. So there wasn't a lot of parking available, we knew we were going to get trampled by crowds. We had to be there early. So I remember standing in line for the gates to open hours and hours before the actual show started. Let's say the show started at seven, we were there by midday, standing in line. And course the people standing in line with us was partaking in all sorts of beverages and things that can be inhaled. You know what I mean, I hope there're no kids listening. All sort of funky stuff going on around us, which I had not been exposed too much at that stage. But still it was this giant adventure for me. And eventually they led us into the stadium.

And so we had another few hours of just sitting in the stadium and people and the stadium was starting to fill up. And I remember seeing how the stadium gets fuller and fuller and fuller and feeling the excitement as everybody's moving closer to each other. We had standing tickets on the grass of this soccer stadium or something where we were watching the show. And so people were starting to move closer and closer to the point where eventually it got impossible to sit down and we had to stand up and then the lights started dimming, the sun set and then we started seeing lights on the stage and the warmup band started playing. And I don't remember any of the warmup bands, but I just remembered by the time Bon Jovi landed with a helicopter behind the stadium, the crowd was going absolutely crazy.

They were absolutely crazy. And I remember that concert. I remember sitting on top of my friend's shoulders. I remember people around me going crazy. I remember everyone dancing, I had the best time. I had never experienced anything like that and my mind was blown. Now I want you to imagine for a second Bon Jovi landing with a helicopter behind an empty stadium and walking onto that stage with no one there. That's what happens when you build your course first and you launch without an email list. Now, I'm not going to tell you need a mega audience to launch to, but ideally you do need at least a thousand people on your email list. And the reason I say this is because I have dried up the tears of many, many, many, an online course creator who thought that having a social media presence was enough.

Building a social media audience is great and it's an important part of building an audience, but the social media audience can go away. The social media audience are not as warm as people who have given their email addresses to you. And they're not as ready to buy from you as the people on your email list would be. So on today's show, I want to talk you through a strategy that's going to help you really know how to build your email list and start making money straight away. So the first thing you're going to want to do is start with your social media and remember that your social media is purely there for you to build a relationship with people and then move them off of social media. That is your number one goal on social media is to get people off of social media or to get the people who are already off of social media to consume even more of your content.

For example, if you're going to do a weekly podcast, you're going to promote it on your social media and on your email list. So those on your email list sees it, but they also remember to come and watch because they see your Instagram stories and they remember, "Oh, hang on. I want to see this episode, or I want to go and hear this." Back in the beginning of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement to the world and he said, "From now on the algorithm is going to favor the content of friends and family." And what he meant by that is that he wants engagement. And right after he announced that everyone's social media became a little bit like walking through mud. It is just tedious hard work that requires a tremendous amount of energy to create any kind of engagement on social media. So what I want you to do instead is I want you to go into your ads manager, go to your custom audiences and set up your first warm audiences.

What I mean by warm audiences, you're going to go to your custom audiences in ads manager, and you're going to create an audience of people who have engaged with you on Facebook for the last 180 days. People who have engaged with you on Instagram for the last 180 days, and people who have been to your website for the last 180 days, as well as anybody who's on your email list. And then you are going to run $5 a day engagement ads from your ad account. Now, what is an engagement ad? An engagement ad is typically a piece of content that really connects and builds relationship with people who have never ever heard of you. It is your best social media post that you take and you turn it into an ad that you tell Facebook, "Hey, Facebook use this ad to get me more engagement on my social media."

Now today's episode is not in depth about how to run engagement ads, but I do want you to know that this whole audience building thing can be a lot easier if you know how to run some engagement ads. I did create a whole podcast episode about that, episode number 79 is called how to get started with Facebook ads without wasting your money. And I go deep into the engagement ads strategy here, the $5 a day strategy to boost your social media engagement so that you can get them onto your email list faster. The link to that episode will be in the show notes of this episode, if you are interested in learning more about engagement ads. Okay. So now we get to the juicy bit, and this is the bit where we start building our email list. Do you remember a while ago? Maybe I think six months ago, I woke up one morning and because I'm in Australia, by the time I wake up, the U.S. is already halfway into your day, if you're in the U.S.

And so I woke up and my phone had absolutely exploded, my team, my clients, my students, everyone was messaging me because Facebook was down. Facebook had been hacked and it was completely down. All ads were stopped, everyone's ad campaigns absolutely came to a grinding halt. And you know who got the biggest scare, who lost the most money, who freaked out the most is influencers. And you know why it is because they build their entire revenue stream, their entire business model, their entire way of making money is built on social media and the ability to connect and communicate with people through social media. That is not a business model you want, unless, unless you can get those people from your influencer state to your wherever it is that you influence people onto your email list. Because if you do, then you will not freak out when Facebook has a blackout day or you will not be impacted when Facebook shut down, your ad shuts down your ad account, which happens more often than you would believe.

You would also not freak out if you made an offer to your social media and nobody bought it because they didn't see it because you can always send emails to your list. So once people are on your or email list, you are going to want to email them every single week. You're going to want to email them something that is going to be of value to them. The same way that you are listening to this podcast. Now I'm willing to bet you either got an email from me, telling you that there is this episode is up and you can go listen, or maybe you saw it on social media, but I'm willing to bet you've already opted in for something somewhere that I offer you as another added way to learn. So what you're going to do is you are going to create a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a small free piece of content where you give away something in exchange for their email addresses.

And then you're going to take that lead magnet and run conversion ads at $25 a day on your ad account to the warm audiences that you built when you ran engagement ads and to some cold audiences. Now, I've just said a whole bunch of stuff. So what does all of this mean? Lead magnet is a free thing, a free piece of quality content, something that opens the door, something that they want, something that helps them solve a small problem. It's something you're willing to give away for free, where you introduce the, what of the problem you solve. So you introduce to them what they need to learn in order to make progress with whatever the problem is they have. For example, I was working with some student today, and we looked at some of their lead magnets. And we looked at someone who is a photographer and she's got a lead magnet, and it is all about confidently taking selfies that you feel proud of and that you want to share.

We were playing around with ideas like, take 10 pounds off in your selfies or take selfies that make you feel good or take selfies without the double chin. We played around with a lot of ideas. And of course we have to make sure everything is compliant with the ads policy, but that's just one idea. Another student of mine we were playing around today, she is an intuition coach. She uses water and she teaches people how to get more in touch with their intuition. And she has created a five day intuition immersion. So people who already feel like there's something in their intuition that they need to lean in and learn how to hear, they're going to say yes to her five day intuition immersion and then they're going to explore how to get more in touch with their intuition.

That is great examples of some lead magnets and you run those ads at $25 a day. Now your are going to tell me, "Salome $25 a day, 30 days a month, 365 days a year is a fair chunk of money and I'm not even selling my online course yet." And you would be right. You would be right to say, "Hey, whoa, hold up here. You're telling me I'm going to spend a fortune before I've even made some money back." So then you might think, "Well, maybe it's just easier to spend all the time building your course and then selling it to whoever you've got on social media." But here's the thing. You're going to build that whole course without ever making a single offer to anyone and most people when they make their first offer doesn't land quite as well as they hoped it would.

Most of us and that's me included, I used to do this too, come to our market and we want to share with our market what we've got. And so we get really excited about what we're going to give them and what we're going to teach them and how we're going to show them things, and we forget that people buy things they want not things that they need. And so there's a bit of a learning curve in learning how to go from, here's what I've got to here's something you want, come and get it. And it is just a way we use language and it is just a way that we frame our offers that is a little bit different, but wouldn't you rather spend $25 a day and test your offer to the people who say yes to your lead magnet than spend thousands of dollars on a webinar just to realize then that you have the wrong offer.

I think option number one sounds a lot better to me, and I have dried buckets and buckets of tears of people who poured their life savings into webinar ads. And as it didn't convert and I'm talking life changing sadness. I wish that on nobody. I don't want anyone to ever tell me, "I poured a ton of money into ads for a webinar or a launch and I didn't make any money and now I'm in financial trouble." Because I've heard it, I've seen it many times and there are better ways. So here's what you're going to do. Once you start running that lead magnet ad, that list building ad, that conversion ad, where you're building your list for $25 a day, you're going to add an offer to this sales page. Now, if you're anything like me, you love a good Black Friday sale or a Boxing Day sale.

In Australia, South Africa and the UK, Boxing Day is a big thing, but I know my friends in the U.S. don't really use Boxing Day, so Black Friday is the same Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. And it's usually when there's lots of big sales on similar to a Black Friday. And my favorite thing about Black Friday and Boxing Day is that in the past it used to be one day. Nowadays, Black Friday sale and Boxing Day sales can last up to a month. And I love it because I go looking for the things that I have wanted to buy before that I didn't buy because they were a little bit outside my budget. And I just find the things that I have put off buying and I buy them on Boxing Day sales or Black Friday sales.

And then you know what gets me every time is that customers who bought this also bought, and then they show you all these other things. They get me every time. I am such a sucker. And once something is in my cart, it's so much easier to just add something else to the cart, especially I find if the second thing is a little bit cheaper than the first thing. I go, I spend this negotiation energy that goes on in brain on the big ticket thing. And then once the brain that wants to buy the thing have won the argument, then that brain just takes over and crowns itself king and then we just buy everything. There's this little saying in sales worlds, where as they say, "The base time to make a sale is right after you made a sale."

And it's true because for sales people, there's this confidence that comes when you've just made a sale you're in your most positive mindset, you're in your most positive energy, you're feeling happy, you're feeling abundant, you're feeling joyful. You're next sale will come right after that first one. And it's the same with Boxing Day and Black Friday sales is maybe your next purchase is made right after your first purchase. Right? But the point is when we're trying to build a business, recency and frequency matters. Recency of purchase and frequency of purchase. How recently somebody made a commitment and how frequently they make that commitment and the level of that commitment. So if somebody just opted in for something and they love the thing they opted in for, and it was literally a minute ago that they opted in for it, the next best time or the best time to put an offer in front of them is right there and then.

Because recency and frequency matters. And they've already had a little bit of a back and forth in their heads. So they're already on a roll, they've already said yes to you. So make a paid offer to them right after they have said yes to your free offer and have consumed your free content. That means make an offer on your thank you page. And it can be something very simple. It doesn't have to be anything more than between $7 and maybe $37, a small thing. Now I want you to keep in mind what I call the golden thread. And the golden thread is really a way that people, that there's a logical progression in what you offer people. So in other words, your messaging in your ad, or even going back to your engagement ad, you start your engagement ad around the same topic that your lead magnet then continues that conversation on.

And then your low dollar offer takes that same conversation to the next level. So if you have a low dollar offer that is in no way shape or form related to your lead magnet, then you're going to lose people and they're going to lose trust. So make sure there's a golden thread in the messaging, a logical progression. Here's an example for you. The other night, I was just sitting in front of TV and I started scrolling on Instagram and there was an ad that came up on my newsfeed for foundation, like skin foundation. And I have the worst time trying to find foundation because I have darker skin than what beauticians usually think. So I have to tell them, when I go to someone and I say, "Can you please match my skin?" I always have to say, "And go a shade darker than what you think."

And then they go, "No, no, no." And then they put the light stuff on me and I look like a ghost. And then I go, "I told you, put a shade darker on me." So that's a bit tricky. And I have this super, super dark shadows under my eyes, which is a genetic thing that I cannot get rid of, thank you, dad. You should see some of my cousins, we just all have these super black circles under our eyes. It's not something I can fix surgically, if I could, I would've. It is just something I have to conceal or embrace. I walk a tightrope between concealing and embracing. Wouldn't say I love it, but I guess I have a lot of other things to be grateful for. Okay. So I'm sitting scrolling on Instagram and this quiz ad, it says, "Take the quiz, find out what your right shade is."

And of course I'm like, "700 beauticians have not been able to match my color foundation correctly, how is a quiz going to do this?" So I start the quiz out of curiosity. And the quiz is actually really built really, really super well. And they're asking me really smart questions. It's not just two or three questions, there were a lot of questions and they're kind of, okay, do you prefer this one or this one? Or does it more look like that or that, or this one or this one or this one or this one? Like when you're at the optometrist and they keep swapping out those little things and they go one or two, one or two, one or two, and they kept doing that until they landed on a color for me. And I looked at that and I thought, "I am so curious to see how accurate this quiz is, I'm going to buy the foundation."

So you know what I do, I get my credit card out and I buy. I have friends that I wouldn't even admit this to because they would absolutely laugh at me when I tell them I bought foundation off of the internet. And so I buy the foundation and then they tell me the thing that goes really well with this foundation is number such and such concealer that would be perfect for your complexion. And I'm like, "You got me at the concealer." And then they hit me with, "And here's the perfect winged eye eyeliner pencil thing." And I'm like, "Ah, you got me again, get me that, because I try to make those and it doesn't work." Okay. So now I've taken the quiz, that's their lead magnet. I've bought their low dollar thing. I can't even remember how much it was.

I think all in all the foundation and the concealer and the eyebrow was 50 bucks, which I think is very, very, very, very reasonable, if not very cheap for makeup. It's cheap compared to what I pay for the other brand that I used before. So now I'm waiting for this to arrive and lo and behold, a few days later, it arrives and I open the box and I open the foundation and I go, "This looks good." And I was in a hurry because I had to go pick up my kids. So I just put a little bit on my hand and their instruction says, "Don't test it on your hand." I put a little bit on my hand and I go, "It looks good. It looks really good." So now I'm excited. But it's six o'clock at night, I'm not going to put on foundation.

So I keep it for the next morning. And the next morning after I've had my shower, I put on the foundation and I am blown away. Absolutely blown away, perfectly color matched. So this company, this smart eCommerce company, this is not an online course, but the principle applies to, now has a lifetime customer in me because they bothered to create a proper lead magnet. And then based on that lead magnet, they used the golden thread, they sold me a product that perfectly matched the quiz that I had just taken. And because I had just bought the foundation, they knew that the next logical thing I'm going to be looking for is concealer. Right? And then I'm sure the eyeliner was just, "Hey, let's just see how many people we can get to buy the eyeliner." Right.

But you get my point. With the 50 bucks that I spent, they've probably made their money back for that ad. I want to say at least 10 times. Okay. So there are ways to get your ideal customer to spend money with you on the thank you page of your lead magnet, right out of the gate. It is an easy thing to do, you just have to know how to make an offer that people really we want. Inside A-Lister, our flagship, Facebook and Instagram ads course, we teach you the exact strategy to make an offer on the sales page of your list building, that'll get you your money back straight away. And we have even thrown in an email sequence and an email swipe file that you can swipe right away, put your audience into a nurture sequence that continues to sell to them even more.

My dear friend Zafira Rajan, who is one of the most smartest copywriters I know created this swipe file for us. So you can literally just take her emails, put your own words in, fill in the blank swipe file to start making money back from your list building. The doors to A-Lister will be opening again at the end of March. We will announce the exact date soon, but if you want to get on the wait list for that, we have some juicy bonuses for you, if you are on the wait list. And you can find out more about that by going to shineandsucceed.com/waitlist. Now, to go back to Bon Jovi and how Bon Jovi blew my mind and turned me into an absolute live concert junkie. Since Bon Jovi I have attended many, many, many a live concert, including, you're going to like this one. Erasure. If any of you have ever been to an Erasure concert, let me know.

I've seen Katie Perry, she's phenomenal, Michael Buble, and some other stranger punk ones where I got high just on other people's fumes. And this was not in Colorado or California, this was in Joburg in the 90s and 2000s, which was quite interesting. But the point is the audience is what makes the experience. The audience is absolutely what makes the experience. So make sure you don't launch to crickets and start building your audience, not your social media. Start building your audience so that you can have a real party, have a real concert and start practicing in a safe space, how to make offers to people before you put all your life savings in there. And if you're ready to take the guesswork out of building an email list and using Facebook and Instagram ads, and you want to learn without wasting any money or getting a tech degree, then I want to invite you to join us in A-lister at the end of March.

And you can sign up for the wait list where we will have some real juicy bonuses for you, if you go to shineandsucceed.com/waitlist. Well, there you have at my friends. I hope you know now which one to build first your course or your list. And I would love to hear from you. Please tell me how you are planning on getting started with your list building. Have a fabulous week, I'll see you next week. Bye.

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