Web developer and agency owner Josh Hall had always wanted to teach.
When he released his first online course in 2018, he gained a highly-leveraged source of income, as well as the gratification of sharing what he knew. He was hooked.
Nine courses later, Josh is guesting to share what he’s learned on his journey and how you, too, can build a business around course creation.
In the episode:
00:56 – From agency work to making courses
02:30 – What inspired that first course
05:23 – Getting easier each time
07:28 – Balancing the stuff that needs doing
09:18 – Becoming the guide, not the hero
10:42 – Looking at the process
12:24 – Course creation plus launch planning
15:16 – Live versus recorded content
17:15 – An exciting sort of leverage
18:21 – Setting up the launch
20:07 – How people consume courses
21:22 – The marketing phase
24:18 – Avoiding the sales-y approach
27:26 – Addicted to course-making
29:16 – Would you be competing with yourself?
31:22 – The student who’s succeeding
21:49 – A look at what lies ahead
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 752. Today we’re going to be talking about building online courses, and what’s behind building an online course business and creating full income from it. So welcome, Josh Hall. It’s lovely to have you on the show.
Josh: Great to be here, James. Thanks for having me on, man.
From agency work to making courses
James: You’ve been in the web design game. And then you started teaching people how to do stuff via courses, and I thought that would be an interesting topic. I have been charting your journey for quite some time in the SuperFastBusiness community. We’ve had some great conversations back and forth over the last few years.
And I’ve watched you grow from pretty humble beginnings, actually. Like, you were doing well with the agency, and then you started going down the course track. So I think it’d be really interesting if you could just firstly give us an overview of where you were at a couple of years back, because that’s probably where someone listening to this is at right now.
Josh: Sure, yeah. I started my freelance web design agency in 2010. And I built that and scaled that. And then in 2017, I realized I was already at a six-figure point with my web design business. And I started scaling it.
And I’d always had a desire to teach. And I always really enjoyed the idea of giving back to the community and helping other designers locally, who are interested in web design. And that’s when I decided, you know what, I’m going to take a shot and then build a course.
And then I started in 2018 with courses, launched my first course in the fall of 2018. And then now, it’s basically what I do full time. Now, it’s a six-figure business and it’s been an incredible ride. I’m in nine courses at this point two years later, so it’s been awesome. It’s been an incredible ride and a journey so far.
James: So when it came to the courses, like you wanted to teach, you wanted to give back. And of course there’s some leverage available with the income from a course. Let’s talk about some of the steps that you would go through.
What inspired that first course
You know that I’m heavily involved with courses and memberships lately. I’ve got a strong affinity for the Kleq platform. And that’s been where I’ve been building up my own course site at SuperFastResults. And I love courses. I used to do courses years ago, and it’s good to start doing them again. Where did you go when you wanted to identify what to do the course about?
Josh: Well, so we were just you know, you had your daughter on before we went live. That’s where it all started for me. My wife and I had our first child, my daughter, in the spring of 2018. And she spent two months in the NICU immediately after she was born. I know when we got connected, I think, in the summer of 2018, you and I started chatting and I told you about that experience.
What I had in my web design agency was a website maintenance plan. And that was the recurring income that paid our bills. Like that was the, I mean, thank God for our maintenance plan through our NICU time, because that’s what paid the bills. So when I decided to get into courses, that was the perfect opportunity to do a course on that.
So my very first course was a course on website maintenance plans, how to build them, how to sell them. And basically I taught everything that I learned and built that first course on that topic. So it was really a passion thing for me. It was something that was relevant, and I knew there was a big need in the web design community.
And I think identifying the need is one of the biggest aspects of a good course. Because it could be something you’re passionate about, it could be something that there’s high demand, but I think really answering a need is the big thing that I wanted to start out with. And it was awesome. I wanted to give it a go, and it went so well and it fired me up so much that I started the track to make that now, full-time.
James: So you might have to explain what NICU means.
Josh: NICU is the intensive care. It’s a newborn intensive care unit. So she was born with some feeding problems, and we spent 56 days in the Children’s Hospital here. I’m in Columbus, Ohio. So we lived there every day. Luckily, it wasn’t too far from home for us. But thank goodness for the coffee shop that was right across the street, because I did some work there. And then yeah, we spent every day with our daughter there.
But again, my web design agency had a website maintenance plan, that was the only recurring income stream that I had at the time. And I was so passionate about how that helped us in that situation that I decided to build my first course off of that.
James: Right. So start with the customer’s need. In your case, it was easy for you to identify, like, the core component of your business that would be most helpful for other people. Hopefully, they’re not suffering the same inconvenience that you had. I hate that stuff. I’ve had trouble with children before. And as a parent, you’d do anything to transfer that problem to you and just leave them alone. So yeah, that sucks.
But like with every difficult situation, there’s often something on the other side of that, something good or some positive that comes from it, a lesson in it. You took that idea. You made that into a course.
Getting easier each time
What was the decision for you to then make another course? Was it like, Oh, this went so well. I think I’ll just do it again. Or, you know, because I think a lot of people finish their course, and then they’ve got their course. It’s like, they have a book, they have their book. Or they buy one house, they’ve got their house, and then they don’t go on. A very small percentage of people actually continue on doing it.
“Once you’ve done all the hard work, it’s actually so much easier the next time around.”
And I’ve really been enjoying adding courses to our own website on an ongoing basis, because I think once you’ve done all the hard work, it’s actually so much easier the next time around, did you find that?
Josh: It got easier every time. Because the first course, I did not have a process in place, which I’m sure we’ll talk about here in a little bit. It was all over. And I was also, during the course of creating these nine courses over the past couple of years, almost two years now, I’ve refined the process. And the last two courses I’ve done, it was not a breeze, but it was so much more efficient than the start.
But that said, yeah, it went over so well. You know, we talked about identifying the need, and I should say, too, one reason I did that course was because every web designer is interested in recurring income, because they want to escape the feast and famine that often comes with web design, which is often project to project.
And it just solves so many problems for my students who enrolled that they were asking for more. They were like, Hey, are you going to do another course? And I knew that I had ideas for other courses. And web design is such a broad-based industry, there’s so many courses that I knew I could get into.
And what I decided to do was at this time, I had already had a YouTube channel that was growing in popularity, which I just dished out tutorials – you’ve seen some of them, James – on what I’ve learned with building sites with WordPress and the tools I use. And I knew that my next course was going to be a course on, which I know this sounds not so fun, but CSS and Divi, which is the theme I use for WordPress.
Because it was very highly requested. People asked for more information, and I had been asked about doing a course on that. I just knew it was going to be a big undertaking, and I actually wanted to start out doing a course that I was really, really passionate about. And then I was going to transition to the more robust course, talking about coding and stuff like that.
Balancing the stuff that needs doing
James: Gotcha. And as you put out the course, I guess you’ve got, you know, you’ve got to market the course and update the course and deal with customers of the course, as well as having the time and energy to start building another one. How did you balance that load?
Josh: Yeah, that was a big challenge, for sure. I will say, I had already started scaling my business once I got to this point, which was absolutely key. So before I built my first course, I already took myself out of the designer role in my business. So I was just doing sales operations, and managing the business. I had a full time designer who’s still with me today, who was doing the actual design for clients. So it did free me up. I freed myself up enough to where I felt confident to be able to take the courses on.
And then yeah, it just got faster and faster as I learned my process. And I started, you know, figuring out how to lay out the ideas faster, and I got faster with recording video, which is kind of half the battle. If anyone tries a course, you realize how long it takes sometimes to just record a lesson. It sounds like it’s going to be easy, like yeah, I’ll just do a 10, 15-minute lesson. And then three hours later, after you retried it several times, you know you learn to kind of speed the process and the things up.
So, yeah, it was a challenge. But it was time management, it was balancing the needs I had for my web design agency. And then I also gave myself a window with the courses. I did give myself a deadline, which I’m happy to talk about too, as far as the launch date, but I made sure I gave myself enough time to realistically get it done. But I also didn’t want to say, you know, I’ll have a course sometime soon, because then it’s never going to get done. So I gave myself a realistic deadline, overall.
James: How long does it take to do a course?
Josh: Depends on the size, for sure. The second course I did is one of my biggest ones. I gave myself, I think, a month and a half to do that one. And I’m happy to talk about the process, now, James, if you want, or I’m sure there are other things we could chat about before it came to that process.
Becoming the guide, not the hero
James: Well, definitely I’m interested in the process. You were indicating something before, you were talking about becoming the guide.
Josh: Yeah, and what I found is, being the guide is just absolutely key with a course. Because where I failed in the beginning, I mean, I think I had 85 or 86 students sign up for my first course, and then I ended up having over 100 before it was completely done, which was amazing. But I kind of positioned myself as the hero of the business, I was like, look how much success I’ve had with our maintenance plan.
“You want your students to be the hero, and you need to be the guide.”
And this kind of goes back to the book that’s really popular right now, Building a Story Brand from Donald Miller, talking about, you really want your students to be the hero, and then you need to be the guide. You need to be the Yoda to the Luke Skywalker, you know? So I really learned to kind of change my role and to share what I’ve learned to show my success, but do it in a way that builds authority and trust with my audience.
And there’s a lot of different ways to do that. Like I said, at that time, I had already launched a YouTube channel where I was dishing out a ton of information that I had used in my business and learned over the years. So I kind of became an authority in my realm. I also did some free training. And more recently, podcasting has been an absolute key, and a huge converter for me. So those are just some of the avenues that I used to kind of become a guide as I’ve learned to sell courses, again, making the students the hero. I’m the guide.
Looking at the process
James: Well, let’s talk about how you do that course creation process. I imagine, being a web developer, web-design-world-type person, that you’re going to make it more complicated than a regular person.
Josh: How did you know James, how did you know?
James: I know this because I’ve created courses in an hour or two over a weekend, before. It definitely doesn’t need to take a month and a half, unless you’re a perfectionist, or you have a lot of other things on your plates. That’s how I know.
I do a new training every single month, and I usually spend somewhere from between three to six hours creating that training. In extreme cases, it might be eight to 10 hours. And then I record it as a live webinar, and then my team will chop it up.
And what I do now is I also have frameworks. So I set it up as, you know, why, what, how, what next as action steps, it’s modularized. So I’m usually creating that training with a view to putting it in a small, bite-sized course afterwards, because I like to leverage it. So it does get put in SuperFastBusiness membership. I know you’ve seen a couple of those. And then it gets chopped up and put into SuperFastResults for an individual purchase. And that’s been working well.
So yeah, the month and a half, that scares the crap out of me. That seems like an enormous amount. That’s like, how long it would take to do a book or something. And I imagine what you’re teaching is just extremely detailed and technical compared to concepts that I teach.
So it’s going to come down to what you teach. And I do coach a guy who teaches programming, and most of the time he spends working is updating and creating courses, because it’s, you know, lines of code. It’s just, there’s no other way to get around that. It’s going to be quite a detailed process to record that.
Course creation plus launch planning
Josh: Yeah, it is. And I think this will probably merge into planning the launch of the course, because I do both. I do the course creation process, and I plan the launch at the same time.
And I should say, that second course was a biggie. It was almost 11 hours, it was dealing with code, it was building an entire website going over CSS, which if there’s any web developers in the audience, you know, that’s not something you’re going to learn in a couple of hours. So yes, it was very robust.
However, I do have a couple of courses that are smaller, that took me less than two weeks to actually build the course out. So it is a mix. It’s between a couple of weeks to a month and a half, depending on the size of the course.
But my process, here’s my process for you. This is what I’ve refined over the past two years in doing this. I like to actually build the landing page first. And there’s no right or wrong way to do this, of course, but what’s worked for me is to build the sales page, because I will identify the needs, I will talk about what the results are going to be, which forces me to kind of plan out my content towards the results and towards the need.
And then I try to get as much structure and information in that sales page, and then I go right into listing out, in bullet points, the structure of the lessons. So if it’s maybe a four module course, and then each module has four lessons in there, then you know, it’s about a 16-lesson course. Each one will have a video and content.
So I plan out the structure and once I get that formatted, then I go into actually writing out the lessons. And the reason I like to write out the lessons is I use that as my script for the videos. So I will actually, a lot of times, whether it’s a talking head video or a screenshare on my end, I’m looking at what I wrote in the lessons. And that’s my script. That helps me keep on track, keeps me on point.
Sometimes I’ll just make a bullet list type of situation. That way I don’t ramble, just to keep me on track. But that’s really, really helped, is planning out the structure, and then writing out the lessons. And I use that as the framework to record the videos.
And at this point, once I start writing out the lessons, that’s when I set an official launch date, and I do a pre-order. So this is why I kind of blend the process in with the launch, because again, it goes back to giving myself a deadline, a realistic deadline.
And again, it just depends on the size of the course. If it’s going to be something that’s going to be 10, 11, 12 hours, like a fairly big course, then I want to make sure I give myself the time to record. I really want to do it in excellence.
James: That’s a huge course.
Josh: I have two fairly big courses. I have a business course that’s way bigger than that, and that one took two months. But again, my smaller courses take a few weeks or so. But I like to give about a month from the time that I announce, Hey, I’m going to be building a course. And then I like to give two weeks or so for the pre-order, because that will force me to do all the editing, do all the post production, do the linking. And then I launch the course on that date.
So that’s kind of what’s worked for me as far as the course creation process and then planning the launch coincidentally with it.
Live versus recorded content
James: Yeah, I want to echo that. For me, having a deadline looming, like this monthly training. And then I go into my keynote, and I actually expand it into the framework that I need to fill it in. And then I use the presenter’s notes to put the bullets, and then I’ll illustrate the slides. And then I’ll deliver it live and record it and then edit it up.
But if I wanted to do the course as not live, which is actually much easier, I think, to do, and you’ll get a higher quality, but it’s just going to take longer, generally. Because I remember the biggest course I ever did was called Traffic Grab. And I think it was six or seven hours’ worth of content in that. It took me forever to record that, and then remove the ums and ahhs. I didn’t have my team helping me do that at the time.
So there’s a few different ways to do it. I would say the big takeaways here are: set a deadline; make sure you come up with the need that’s really useful to your audience, and they’re vested in it; have a waiting list to gather interest is good. And then to chapterize or modularize, or put out at least a table of contents and then expand upon them in a useful framework before you fill it out. Then that gives you some choices – then you could record one at a time and you can release them over a drip; you could just block time and do the whole thing in one go. It’s like when I read my book in one go, that was just a long day. But I needed to do it. I just needed to do it.
Josh: It is. It’s a long day with video.
James: Block it.
Josh: Yes. Particularly I found with video it is a long day. But just like you said, I schedule that out to where if I had 10 lessons to record, then yep, I would do, like, five one day, then five the next day.
And what I learned as far as that process slash launch goes, I would get the structure in place, then I would set the launch date. That way I at least knew I had a good solid structure, and that forced me to get more creative to write those lessons and do exactly what you say.
Because I feel like if you give yourself three months to do something, you’re going to find a way to take three months to do it. So if you give yourself a realistic deadline, I feel like as long as it’s dang good, that’s good enough to go live for me. So that’s what works so far.
An exciting sort of leverage
James: Well, that’s it, the tremendous amount of relief that comes when it’s finished, even if it’s not perfect, is just so satisfying. There’s books on this topic, about doing the work. Steven Pressfield, he talks about how just before, you know, you get this creative storm that just wants to force you off the project. You know, it’s very big resistance to getting this stuff done for some people. And it is worth it. The leverage that comes from having that income coming in when you’re not doing something is hard to explain. The leverage in that is just so exciting.
So let’s talk about planning the launch itself.
Josh: Yeah, and you said it right there, James, the leverage. And then I’ve also found – because I came from a background of doing web design where, again, as I mentioned, it’s often project to project, feast or famine – once I got into courses, and I’m sure we’ll talk about marketing here, it was my first taste of like, waking up to sales, which was one of the coolest things ever.
Like, I remember when I first launched, I think, my second course, I woke up and I had like eight or nine sales and I was like, holy crap. This fired me up. This is what I really want to do.
Setting up the launch
And yeah, planning the launch, when it came to that, what I did was try to build some content around that topic. This is something I’m kind of learning more as I start to market my courses again, as I do kind of version 2.0’s of them, and revamps. One of the best things I’ve learned is to build content around that topic.
So for me, I just launched a course on SEO, so I did some of this, but kind of looking back, the most ideal thing I could do is to create content around SEO, whether it’s tutorials, webinars, free trainings, podcast episodes.
“Planning content around your launch is key.”
And then by the time you launch your pre-order for your course, your audience is already in that frame of mind, they’re going to be much more apt to invest in it than if you just come out of nowhere with a topic. So planning content around that launch is key.
I’ve learned that setting that launch date, again, for you, the course creator, to make sure it’s realistic, it just forces you to get it done in time. It’s going to be huge.
And then I’m big on doing a pre-order discount sale, which, obviously that, you know, the course makes the most in the initial launch that I’ve found this point. But again, I’m happy to talk about some marketing strategies that I’m employing now, as my courses are kind of on the next cycle.
But doing a pre-order sale was huge for me, because so many people wanted to get in before the course went to full price, and before it actually launched. So doing that has been huge.
And then as far as the launch goes, building anticipation, it’s almost like a concert. You really want to build the anticipation.
And then when you launch that thing, whether you do a course that’s done completely, or whether you do it drip style, where it’s you know, maybe one module at a time, I feel like you definitely want to have enough content there to where, the idea of a concert, you want to have enough there to keep them really excited and they keep on going as they move through the course.
How people consume courses
So you don’t want to launch a course with just one lesson, and then wait a whole nother week or two for the next one. Particularly for people who are fired up and want to bust through it. Because I have had students that clear a week out, and they just go through that thing when it launches.
So yeah, those are some of the keys that have really helped me with successful launches moving forward.
James: Yeah, people tend to binge now. I mean, we’ve watched the Netflix stats – people go through an entire season of a show in one sitting, which is remarkable.
But I think drip is frustrating for a lot of people, the way they like to consume. And I’m one of those people who buy something and then consume it on the spot, just go through the whole thing and just upload it into my brain and then send off instructions to my team or will do things myself, and just incorporate as fast as possible. So that’s a good tip.
Josh: Yeah, I did the same thing when I take a course, because I’m big on taking courses as well. Shout out to Pat Flynn, his podcasting course. I took that and I did it in two days. I busted through that thing. I cleared out my schedule and just went through that thing. Because I don’t like to have things linger on my schedule too long, I like to get in and get it done. So, yeah, I found that to be key for those students who want to just bust through it.
James: I was literally chatting to him just a few hours ago. Had I interviewed you first, I would have been able to say hi. Anyway, there’s always next week.
The marketing phase
So let’s talk about marketing the course. Because this is really a big one. We spent so much time thinking about what we’re going to make, you know, getting caught in the weeds and how we’re going to make it, and then when that’s going to come out, and getting the waiting lists, and setting the cart and all these things. And then of course, it’s launched. Then what? How do we market the course?
Josh: And it is tricky. What I found with courses, again, just from my experience with being a web designer, is that my services and web design answered a need for clients. Like, they had a problem. They had a crappy website that needed design, or a lot of my colleagues or product creators in the WordPress realm, and their products are going to sell constantly because they’re solving problems that people have randomly.
Courses are a different ballgame. I’ve found courses to be one of the hardest things to market consistently, because it’s a self-improvement product. It’s not like someone is having a bad website or has a bad website and they really want to get it redone. It’s something that you kind of have to identify the need. And then you have to really add some urgency and explain why somebody should join and why they should join now.
So with the launch cycle, it’s easier to go about that because you’re doing a pre-order sale or you’re adding anticipation around a launch. Well, like you said, James, once that course is live, sales may trickle in periodically, but the key is to keep on bringing that course up. And there’s a variety of different ways to do this, I’ve found.
Again, my tutorials on my YouTube channel are a big part of bringing people into my brand. And what I do, and I know I showed you this when I started doing it, is I would very tastefully just mention my courses if they were relevant to that tutorial. So I would, you know, give a free tutorial and I’d say, hey, if you liked this tutorial, I do have a course on Divi and CSS, check it out. Here’s a promo code below for, you know, 10 percent off or whatever. That’s been a huge converter for me.
And the other thing I would really recommend when it comes to marketing courses ongoing, is some sort of funnel, like a webinar or a free training that is similar to the topic that maybe scratches the surface of it, because then they’re going to get to know you, hopefully, like you and trust you, and they’ll be much more apt to buy that course if it’s promoted at the end.
“A lot of times you can have a great launch, and then crickets after that.”
So that’s one of the biggest things, too, is a really good funnel that leads them in and gives them some free good value at first, and then makes them want to buy the course. And this is, again, things that I recommend doing after it’s launched, because like I said, a lot of times you can have a great launch, and then crickets after that. And that’s what I experienced with my first couple of courses. They did well, but then after the launch, I would maybe get a sale or two on those courses the month after, to where now I’m selling fairly consistently all my courses every week.
And then one thing I found, too, you’re big on creating short videos. I have taken your advice and I’ve been creating short videos and teasers that promote my podcast and certain courses, and that’s been huge too. So I also bring them up in my podcast. My courses right now essentially sponsor my podcast. I don’t do ads or anything like that.
Avoiding the salesy approach
One marketing strategy I’m trying out, which has been pretty cool, which has been working pretty well, is to say, this episode is presented by my web design business course. So I do it very tastefully, though. I try not to come across salesy, but I just let them know that it’s there, it’s live and it’s ready to help them. You know, web designers either build awesome websites or build their business.
James: It’s interesting to hear you say a word like, come across as salesy. I’d love to know what you mean by that.
Josh: Yeah, again, because courses are something that you do really have to engage people with and steer people toward, it’s not like a plugin or a product that’s just going to solve a quick problem they’re having. It’s investment in themselves. And I found that a lot of course creators that I see at least, that, you know, Facebook ads that come across my thread and my feed, are so salesy, and so, kind of used-cars salesy, I’m hoping that’s okay. I can say that to you, James, being from the dealership realm a lifetime ago.
James: Of course. I know what you mean by that.
Josh: So you know what I mean?
James: Like, you’ve had an experience where you didn’t feel like the person had your best interests at heart.
Josh: Yes, exactly. Or you can tell they’re all about the money. And don’t get me wrong, the money that comes with courses, it can be remarkable. It could be awesome.
James: Yeah, but the customer doesn’t care about your new roof or that you want to upgrade your car. Like, the customer cares about improving their website ability, right, in your case?
Josh: Exactly. Yep. I’ve learned to be genuine and just to be real and transparent, and just share how it’s helped me. And an example is my first course, my maintenance plan. I was very open. I told everybody, Hey, my family spent two months in the children’s NICU, the intensive care. And our maintenance plan is what, like, paid our bills through this time. And that was a huge converter for people. They understood the power of that. They may not have been in that same situation, but they were like, You know what? If I ever go through something like that, this course can help me. So yeah, those are just a few different ways that marketing the courses ongoing has been a huge help for me that I’ve found.
James: Look, if you think of sales as a process of change from one situation to a better alternative situation, like the SPIN Selling definition, it makes sense. What you’re doing there is creating an environment. Like, basically someone can walk in your shoes for a moment and see what you saw that helps him understand they will be better off for learning this maintenance package, if they’re a web developer. Therefore, they will be better off for making that purchase.
It has still got nothing to do with you. It’s got everything to do with them and their problem. But your story helps them see that. So I wanted to zoom in on that, because you’re coming from an environment and a peer group where sales has got an interesting sort of meaning compared to some of the other people that I work with.
“It’s hard to go from being the educator to someone who now wants people to pay for things.”
And it’s interesting you referenced Pat earlier because I remember on the podcast I did with him the first time, we talked about how it’s hard to go from being the educator to someone who now wants people to pay for things, and there’s a bit of a stigma around that. Once you realize that, it’s okay to give people different levels of help. And then they will be happily buying that. If they feel they’ll be better off, then that’s okay. So, making courses and asking people to buy them is totally cool.
Addicted to course-making
I think a lot of the dialogue we’ve had, Josh, over the years, is going from that journey. You’d already had your first course just launched when you came on board, but you were sort of wondering whether to do the next. And then we’ve continued on and you just keep finding the need, and I think you’re a course addict now, by the look of it.
Josh: Absolutely. Nine courses in. Yeah, I love it, man. And you know what they all say, too? I meant to say this in the outset of this, but it has been the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. And it’s for a lot of reasons. But I found that the gratification that comes with sharing what you know is amazing.
And you don’t have to be a top notch expert in your field. I’ve found, even if you’re just a year into your journey in whatever industry you’re in, you already know way more than you think you know. So I’m a big proponent of people doing courses fairly early on. It doesn’t have to be a big $500 or $1,000 course, it could be something for 97 bucks or $47, or whatever you want to do.
But the gratification has been amazing. And man, some of the success stories, this kind of gets into one of the last pieces, I wanted to talk about with marketing, is you’ve got to share success stories. I’m big on trying to get as many reviews and testimonials from students.
And in the case of my first course, the maintenance plan, one of my students, that course helped him figure out how to build enough recurring income that he was able to adopt. They were looking at adoption, and that showed him how to build recurring income to where they were able to adopt with that new revenue, that new income for his family. So he told me about that, and I shared it.
And those are the kind of things that really have helped me market these courses ongoing, and it’s just been the most rewarding, amazing work. So it’s really cool, man. I just love courses. In the case of web design, sharing what I’ve learned and then seeing my students have websites that are based off of what I share has been, like, the coolest thing to see.
Would you be competing with yourself?
James: And you’re not worried about them, you know, competing with your web development business, obviously. There could be some of that, some people might say, why would I teach my secret special intellectual property, you know, and create competition for myself? I know that comes up. I thought it’d be good to ask you that.
Josh: Yeah, I thought about that. But honestly, the web design market is just so big. I mean, I don’t want to work with every person that needs a website in the world, there’s no way to do that. So I’ve just found that there is such power in empowering people to share what I’ve learned, you know, to look at my experience to help them grow their own business. So it’s been huge.
And I will say, too, one thing that I had to think through and really get past was, I had my YouTube channel, like you saw, I think when we first got together, my YouTube channel was maybe 500,000 views. Now it’s almost 1.5 million. So it’s getting there now. But I had all this free content on YouTube. And I was like, why would I do a course when I’ve got all this free content? Like who’s going to pay me if I got a bunch of free videos?
But one of my students explained it to me in the best possible analogy. Because I asked her when she took my CSS course, I said, What made you want to dive into my course being that you would let me know, you saw a lot of my tutorials? And she said, Your tutorials were great, but they were like breadcrumbs. It wasn’t until I took your course that I got the whole meal.
It was, like, the course took her from start to finish, really gave her the foundational understanding. Whereas if she just saw a bunch of scattered tutorials, they would help her a little bit, but she didn’t really get a good confident grasp of the topics. So I just wanted to throw that in there, because I really had to convince myself that you know what, even though I’m giving a lot of information out for free, people will absolutely pay me for it too in the form of a more organized course.
James: Yeah, I’d say that about my podcast. A lot of podcasts out there for free, and people still pay for coaching. Now they can do it at different levels of access. Like, they can go along to Amazon and buy a book for just a few dollars – that would help them a lot. They can buy more access through different levels, I’m sure, down the track, and we’ve had some conversations about this. You’ll mix up some membership-type options as well in there.
The student who’s succeeding
But you know, you’ve got your agency ticking along, you’ve found leverage in that. You’ve got your courses ticking along, you found leverage in that. I love seeing what you’re doing. I mean, to me, you’re kind of like that student was to you. You’re my guy who’s succeeding.
It’s a pleasure to watch what you’re doing, and you brought a lot of stuff to the table already. I don’t have to do much with you, because you already had done the education. You’ve done courses. You’ve started building your YouTube channel, you’ve educated yourself on podcasts with Pat.
I think where we’ve had some great dialogue is just decision making, like what to do with all this abundant talent and genius that’s contained in this being called Josh Hall. And I think you’re only just getting started. From what I can tell, your enthusiasm and your energy and the results you’re getting now are just an indicator of where things are going to go. And it’s great that you’re helping other people now on their journey even to make courses, etc.
Josh: Well, thanks, James. I really appreciate that man. Yeah, it’s been an incredible ride so far. And you know, I’m really glad I got connected with you, actually, almost two years now since I joined the membership, and yeah, your coaching has been huge.
I have not utilized the membership aspect as much as I’ve wanted to, just because I’ve been running my business and doing courses. But I’m very excited to say, and this is another thing I wanted to mention about courses, is you never know who you’re going to meet as a student. Just recently, one of my students, we just made a deal for him to take over my web design business, and I still have some equity in the business.
A look at what lies ahead
So I’m going to oversee him and oversee the team, but he’s taken over all operations, all sales, and I’m full-time courses now and full-time this endeavor. So it’s been amazing, you know this short ride so far. And yeah, I’m really excited to take the next level, which is membership. That’s what I’m going to be working on next. So I’m sure we’ll be chatting a lot more here in the next couple of months here, man, I’m pumped.
James: I think so. And that’s the course I’m making right now, and it’s the book that I’m writing. And I work so closely with the membership platform Kleq, which, you know, that was a customer relationship that turned into a partnership. So it’s a great example, you find these gems out there in your own audience. And that’s why I like to host them on my podcast.
Josh: You know, what was really cool too, in the case of the gentleman who’s working with me on taking over my web design agency, is he’s already been through all my courses, so he knows me better and he knows the processes.
James: Yeah, he knows you back to front.
Josh: Like, he’s seen what I use. Like basically, instead of me having to train him one-on-one, you know, separately, he’s already been through my courses, everything that I do in my business is laid out in my courses.
So it’s been wild man. When that came about here recently, I thought it was such a cool path to where, you know, I saw him grow a six-figure business of his own. And then it just worked out to where I felt like he was the one I wanted to have take care of my clients moving forward so I could focus on this.
James: Well, you know, it’s a good point, but a lot of people who I know who are creating courses, keeping in mind that they can take their team through those courses, and they can use those courses to strengthen and build their own business. I love it when my team listens back to a podcast when they’re doing the transcript. And they tell me what they learned and what was interesting.
And we can get guests on who are really good at what they’re doing, who can educate us all the time, you know? And we learn so much, even from our own students, which is brilliant.
So what a great world we live in, where we can do all this stuff online. You can be over there in Columbus, Ohio, I’m here in Sydney, and we can have a conversation about courses.
I definitely didn’t want to bog this call down too much in the technical stuff, because I know that’s going to be dangerous, talking to a web developer about technical stuff. We didn’t go too deep into things like pricing, but we talked about having an initial offer for the first movers, which I think is a really good point.
The things I really wanted to get out of today, we did, was find out what to make the course about, what role you have in being that guide, a course creation process, insight, talking about launching the course, marketing the course and making sure your students get results. And I think we’ve done well.
Josh, where can we find out more about you?
Josh: Yeah, my site where all my courses are at is JoshHall.co. That’s my personal brand site. And yeah, just go there. You’ll see all the information. It’s got links to everything else I’m involved with. Really excited to take this thing to the next level, man. Appreciate your help with everything you’ve done so far for me, James.
James: That’s cool. And thank you for coming on and sharing your experience. It’s been a wonderful journey and I’m sure there’s going to be some next chapters to this one.
Josh: Yeah, let’s do a round two here soon.
James: All right.
So for now, this is Episode 752. I’ll catch you on a future episode.
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