You might find yourself saying those things, or seeing others raving, about what has happened over the last couple of days.
Black Friday (and now Cyber Monday) has always been an interesting time of year. Some of us have been saying this all year, while a few notable instructors have been saying that “it’s not possible that it can be something special”. As we can all currently see, Udemy can turn on the jets when it needs to.
The next big sale is January New Year’s sale. You may want to take some of the tips from my Udemy SEO course, apply them to your courses, and put yourself in a bit of a better position for January.
I’m going to steal Jason Dion’s quote in the Udemy Instructor Club at this point:
“Scott Duffy, thanks for the SEO course that I bought this weekend. I finished it this morning and spent the afternoon updating all my course descriptions, titles, etc. I think the course is a must watch for any Udemy instructor to stop and think about how they are displaying their courses to the world!”
Thank you Jason. I just saw you hit the $40,000 mark, and I’m super thrilled that you’re doing well. I have no doubt next year will be a double of this year for you.
I’ve seen a lot of nice feedback on the Udemy SEO course which I just re-recorded on Black Friday day. So to catch the freshest content (can’t get fresher than “recorded last Friday”), you should grab this now. And be prepared for January.
Recently there was a question posted in a Facebook group I am in, and I thought it was worth capturing outside Facebook for posterity. I think it’s a good question.
I’ve used Quora in the past by answering questions on my topic. The internet is a big place, and there are people asking “how would I do X?”. It’s so easy to just start to provide answers to people. Not to sell them something directly. But to help them and build your authority as a smart person in that topic.
My tip is to be genuine. Just help people. Don’t try to sell. The more you help, the better you will do on Udemy. I swear!
And the question came back:
How does being known in Quora help you to sell courses? By students doing a google search for you or do you have a chance to have a link in your profile or something? I’m not familiar at all with Quora, sorry.
Which is a good question. How does helping answering questions on the Internet help you if you are not directly pitching your thing to them at that same moment.
It doesn’t have to be Quora. It can be any place where people ask questions and you can answer. Facebook, Twitter, Stack Overflow, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, basically any question and answer site.
The idea is that you put yourself as a true authority on the topic.
If someone was searching Google for TOGAF, they might stumble upon that answer. And they’d see my name with the green check mark. They might see my name a lot when it comes to that topic. And maybe in the future they see I have a course, and they think “oh that name sounds familiar!”
More directly, those platforms allow you to have a profile, and you can certainly talk about your career being an online instructor there. And Google indexes that too.
It’s about being an authority in a topic. You can anoint yourself an authority, but it’s much better if many other people see you as an authority too.
Hopefully, that’s clear.
There is benefit to being viewed as an authority on a topic. If you teach a course on the “ancient Japanese paper folding art of Origami”, then creating free YouTube videos talking about Origami, having an Origami blog, answering questions about Origami all over the web should be part of you being seen as THE Origami expert. That will lead to more course sales.
This post is not so much about video courses, but allow me a chance to talk about something else I follow closely – Bitcoin and Crypto. In this post, I want to talk about “the dream” that is cloud mining.
If you’re not aware, there are companies that will “rent” you servers to mine bitcoin. The servers live in their data center, use their electricity, and they take care of everything. You give them money, tell them your Bitcoin address, and they’ll turn it on for you.
Let’s use Genesis Mining as an example, although there are others.
Today, I can “rent” 100 MH/s of Etherium mining for a 2 year contract, for US$2799.
Using a web based calculator, I can see that 100 MH/s is expected to profit US$129.66 per month at current rates. Or $1577 per year, or $3140 in 2 years.
So would you pay $2800 today for $3140 in 2 years?
That’s about a 5% return on investment if nothing bad happens. Given the risk of crypto-currencies, and the up and down fluctuations of prices, there is a certain level of risk to this.
5% annual return in a high-risk investment seems a bit foolish. Put that $2,800 in a low-fee stock index fund instead.
Today I decided to re-record the promo video for my top-selling course. I do that every year, usually just before the fall Black Friday period. We’re 3 months from Black Friday, and so now’s a good time to make those landing pages and promo videos better.
First- here is the video that I just created.
So, let me tell you the 12 steps it took to make this video.
Number one, it starts with the script. I write what I want to say in a text file. Now over the years, I’ve learned how to write a promo video, and if I’d give a couple of tips about that it would be this.
Keep it short.
Focus on the outcomes for the student. Nobody wants to learn PHP, for instance, but people do want to get a high-paying web developer job or solve problems with their website without having to ask someone.
And ask for the sale at the end.
Number two, I import the script into my iPad using a software called Prompt Smart Pro. It’s not free, but it’s paid for itself easily for me. The cool thing about this software is that it listens for my voice, and as I talk, the script automatically advances so that the next thing to say is always on screen. The problem I had in the past with teleprompter software was it would advance at a constant speed, and so I was sometimes waiting for it to catch up, or having to talk faster to keep up.
Number three, I record the talking head using my DSLR, Canon T5i. I put the iPad in my telepromter, turn on the lights, plug in the microphone, turn on the camera, and go. I have a permanent studio in my basement so that I can record talking heads without having to do a lot of set up or tear down after.
Number four, I take the video off of the camera. I have an external hard disk (WD My Cloud) where I save all my raw videos to. Every raw video I have ever recorded lives in one directory on my external hard disk.
Number five, I clean the audio. I import the video into Audacity, do some volume adjustments (Equalization) and do some noise removal. Depending on the audio, I remove heavy breaths, remove ums and ahs, and silence any noises that shouldn’t be there. I can do this fairly quickly since I’ve done it so often.
Number six, I use editing software called Adobe After Effects to merge the original raw video, with the cleaned up audio. I trim the beginning and end, so that the talking head part of the video is “clean”. I mute the audio of the original video so that only the edited audio is playing.
Number seven, now I start adding effects to it. I created a pre-roll a year ago for my Azure courses, and I use that same pre-roll on each talking head video in the course. Note that I don’t use the pre-roll on most videos. Just on the talking heads. I will “fade to black” at the end of the video to give it a professional effect at the end.
Number eight, I usually add music to the background of my talking heads. I turn the volume of the music down to -20 decibels or lower. I don’t want the music being annoying, but I do think certain music adds energy to a short video and keeps the brains attention.
Number nine, I add a small animated name tag that I bought off Themeforest. I bought a pack of animated graphics for After Effects that I can modify to say what I wish. I have a favorite one that I use that has my name, and I can change the title to whatever is appropriate. Another thing that makes it appear professional.
Number ten, I’ll use Adobe After Effects to add text on screen where needed. Especially for promo videos. I don’t normally do this for videos inside the course. But if I want to highlight something, I’ll add some text.
Number eleven, I sometimes like to record b-roll. B-roll is this concept of recorded moving videos that play while you are talking. This is good because the viewer does not spend 2 straight minutes looking at you. Every 30-45 seconds, a short clip plays showing something relevant. I recorded the Microsoft website in a couple of places, and play that for 10 seconds or less during the promo.
Finally, number twelve, I added a couple of images like “take this course” at the end. Sometimes I like to show the “30-day money back guarantee” as a logo. But the image highlights the call to action.
That seems like a lot of work. Twelve steps. But honestly it takes me about four hours to do all of it. And by making my course seem fresh, up to date for August 2017, I think those four hours will add several thousand dollars to my income over the next 8-10 months.
When you work for yourself, and there’s no one to tell you specifically what to do next, it’s easy to get distracted into things that are interesting but perhaps not contributing to our success.
One example of this is the lure of writing an ebook. You hear about everyone who’s written an ebook, and so you feel you have to as well. You put weeks into creating this book, formatting it, getting it published on the Kindle platform. And then what? You make $40 in the first month. And $20 in the second. Was it worth it putting in those dozens or hundreds of hours into writing that book? Was there something else you could have done in that time to advance your business?
In this video, I talk about how selective you have to be when taking on new work into your business.
parlay (noun): a cumulative series of bets in which winnings accruing from each transaction are used as a stake for a further bet.
So let’s say you have at least one digital product out there (let’s say an online course but could be anything) and you are making a steady amount of money each month from that.
Let’s say, for sake of example, that you’re making $1000 per month from selling one course on Udemy. What’s the one thing you can do to increase that to $1,500 or $2,000 per month?
a) create more free content (blog posts and YouTube videos) to drive to the paid product
b) work to improve that product, answering student questions, redoing videos, and in general make it better
c) create a new course on a related topic
d) try to get someone famous to tweet out a link to your course
I could go on, but I’ll stop. If you said (c), you win a lollipop.
One reliable way to turn one success into the next is to create something ELSE for that same audience and give them the opportunity to purchase it from you.
Beyond the “initial launch”, those few days after you email the link to your list for the first time, the ongoing effect on organic sales is also immediate and long lasting:
Gives future students more than one thing to buy from you at once. You won’t believe how many students buy 2, 3, 4 or more courses from me at a time. Happens every day.
Increases your authority on the topic. (You instruct one course on X? Cute. You instruct 5 courses on X? Now I’m listening to you.)
Gives a student who finds you and doesn’t like your first product another option to buy from you. So let’s say they don’t like “beginners guide to X”, but you offer “intermediate guide to X”… that might catch their attention. So you get a sale you would not otherwise get.
Increases the chances of being found. One more thing for Google to index. One more entry in the Udemy search results. One more thing for someone to blog about with a backlink. Also you dominate the marketplace. You’re everywhere. There are categories like music and bread making (and TOGAF) where students have virtually no choice on who to buy from. When you dominate in a category, you tend to take the air out of the room for your competitors.
Some of those might seem like minor things, but if you’re successful on a topic, you’re just on the first rung of the ladder. The way to get to the top is to move up to the second rung. And then the third.
I just got back early in the morning from San Francisco and Udemy Live 2017, and thought I can drop some thoughts on my experience while they’re still fresh.
I arrived in SFO on the Thursday, and had a few good things happen. First, my hotel was ready for me at 10am so I was able to check in and get settled pretty much as soon as I arrived. I stayed at the Palace again, and it’s a “nice hotel” with a “nice hotel price”. I mean, it’s really expensive but I couldn’t find an alternative that was close to where I wanted to be. But got there and got checked in. The hotel was great.
Later that day, I met up with Sarah Cordiner and we went over to see some of our Udemy friends at their Airbnb. We had a nice dinner and some drinks, and it was nice to hang out and chat for a few hours there.
Friday was when things got serious. Met up with some folks at a bar, and then headed over to Udemy HQ. Got to meet the Udemy for Business folks, and got a good sense of their excitement in building that business. Got some cool UFB socks.
Then it was downstairs to meet the larger Udemy team. I felt rushed because I had to leave early for another Udemy event, so this meet and greet went by quickly. Got to see the new Udemy CEO for the first time, and talk to some old friends.
Then I had to rush off to dinner with some fellow instructors. Great chance to sit with Phil Ebiner and his wife, and we got a chance to have a long chat. The steak was good too, as were the views.
Saturday, the conference started in earnest. Up early, before 7am, to shower and rush downstairs. I wanted to be there super early, and probably got in the door around 7:10am. Good thing I did, as I was able to sign up to a few one-on-one sessions with Udemy staff to talk specifically about my business and my courses. That was a great idea, and was so glad to catch that.
Now I found, like last year, it was tough to decide which sessions to attend. I wished I could go to them all. Could we turn the event into 3 days? I guess not. But I really missed a few sessions I wish I attended.
So what were the best sessions? Hard to say. The session led by Udemy on “Global Expansion” really stuck with me. I came away thinking about more I can do to make my courses available worldwide. I got to see Mimi G, and she’s got a great brand and a great presentation style. There was a lot to take in.
The Gala event was good, but felt shorter than last year. Maybe it’s just a trick of time.
Afterwords at the bar, I got into a discussion with a Udemy person about marketing. I didn’t have a sip of anything, didn’t even get near the bar itself. I was so taken in with a discussion on marketing courses, that the time just few by and before I knew it it was 1am. Another illusion of time. How did 6pm turn into 1am without feeling like 7 hours?
Sunday’s session was interesting. Watched the closing keynote by Danielle LaPorte. Now I’ve heard of her, but was not really aware of her style or message. It’s fair to say that there were things she said that didn’t resonate with me (something about chakras), but I found her to be brutally honest on stage. She talked about her struggles in business – not from a “slept on a couch and now I’m rich” way that many internet gurus wear like a badge of honor – but she still has struggles even today. She came across as sharing all and not selling.
She’s a creative person and she was trapped running a business and far away from feeling creative. That I get.
I believe in listening to all people from all walks of life. I will listen to a hard core internet marketer, and then listen to someone talking about chakras and opening yourself up to the universe. If you only are open to receiving one message, you’ll be missing out on a lot of truths and buying into a lot of lies.
Was the conference worth it? A strong YES! Yes, I am glad I went and yes I will go again next year. Sign me up.
Was the conference perfect? I mean, there were times I was sitting in a session and wished I had chosen something else. There were a ton of people I wanted to spend even 10 minutes chatting for a bit, but time just flew by. (Plus they were quite busy making sure the event was going off as planned.) On the whole the sessions were great. I went for the people, and made maximum advantage of meeting new and interesting people, and getting ideas to grow my business.
Success is not a lottery. Most times, success is not the result of luck.
I see people who create things online, and are passively waiting for success to happen. They blog, they create YouTube videos, they create books and courses. Rinse and repeat. More blogs, more videos, more books, more courses. Round and round and round.
And they are patiently waiting for someone to pick them. Waiting for someone with influence to say “Hey everyone! Look at this cool thing”. Or waiting for a big corporation to notice their brilliance and choose to make them popular. Waiting to get lucky.
Sometimes it works like that, I guess. Sometimes a record company notices that singer who’s quietly making good songs on YouTube and offers them a record deal. Sometimes Oprah notices a little-known book and it becomes a million-seller overnight. Sometimes Apple notices that obscure health app and features it as new and noteworthy. And sometimes TechCrunch features startup companies that nobody has heard of and investors rush to invest. Sometimes.
But do you know what happens more often? The gifted singer emails a link to their song to 100 people with connections in the music business. They ask their friends to email anyone they know who works in the music business. They call radio stations and beg them to play their song. They travel to L.A. and will play for free in any bar or restaurant that will let them. They work their butt off to get noticed. And if they’re good, someone notices them.
The talented writer sends physical copies of their books to 100 editors and 100 agents – plus Oprah. The course seller contacts the owners of marketplaces and gets featured on the home page of that marketplace. Any information product seller contacts influencers in their market and gets featured in popular blogs and magazines.
Do you want a feature in Rolling Stone? What have you directly done to let any writer or editor at Rolling Stone know that you exist?
If you want to be noticed, you have to put your hand up. You have to stand apart from the crowd not hide among them. You have to hustle. You have to do uncomfortable things like emailing and calling and sending things in the mail to people you don’t know. I’m willing to bet that success is more likely to happen to someone who has something good plus spends time trying to get people to look at it, than people who have something good and tell no one, hoping to be discovered randomly.