How to Build a Successful Online Course Business | Thinkific Success Story: Jonathan Levi


[Tyler] Okay, welcome to teach online TV my
name is Tyler Basu and I’m here with Jonathan Levi, who is a serial entrepreneur and an
online course creator, in fact, he s got one of the, one of Thinkific s most successful
online schools. The Super Learner Academy. We’re constantly pointing people to his site
as an example of a very good course site. And he’s got lots of students in his course
as well. Tens of thousands in fact from all over the
world, so Jonathan thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’m excited to learn about your journey. [Johnathan] Yeah, thanks for having me. It’s a total pleasure, you guys know I’m a
huge, huge fan of Thinkific. I refer everybody to you guys so I’m really
excited that, to know that you guys are also off at of ours. [Tyler] Yeah, exactly. Now, Jonathan I did, I read up on you a little
bit and it looks like you’ve been doing a lot of things over the past decade or so from
e-commerce, retail software, I think I called you a serial entrepreneur which seems to be
pretty accurate but how did you get into creating courses, I like that one point in your journey
did you decide that you wanted to share some of your knowledge— [Johnathan] Yeah. [Tyler] —and why did you specifically choose
to create courses? [Johnathan] yeah, so I got into online courses
really as a side thing. I had left business school and I was working
on the startup idea and it kind of wasn’t going anywhere, and I decided to change locations
and drop the startup idea and kind of look for new things. I had sold a company previously, so I wasn’t
in dire straits. But I did want to have some income coming
in from the side to cover my living expenses so that I could kind of mill around and look
for that next big opportunity as you said I’m a Serial entrepreneur. So I’ve never actually had a real job, and
I wasn’t fixing to start. And at the time I was about 24, 25, and said
to myself well hey a lot of people have asked me over the recent years about the speed rating
thing but I studied get on my own, and about all these memory techniques and I’m always
using, and I taken as part of this whole start of adventure, I had taken a course from Eton
Griffel, on udemy. And it was all about kind of growth hacking,
and stuff like that and I had to take another one of those courses, he had then going on
to do his own platform called one month. Which now those guys are good good friends
of mine and I consider them to be kind of thought leaders in the online course face. But I saw that, and I was like well they built
the whole business around basically starting in one small marketplace website and then
creating their own. I said, well that’s pretty cool what if I
were to do like a 1 on 1 speed reading course, instead of a one-month reading on rails? I decided they probably wouldn’t appreciate
the homage. This is before they were friends of mine. So I decided to just come up with names and
I have a little bit of a background in marketing given that I had companies before and created
product lines before. So I did a little bit of market research as
I need kind of good entrepreneur, I reached out to kind of my target market, talk to people,
so with their concerns were, and then I took the skills that I teach every day which is
accelerated learning, speed reading, and memory, so I was like okay. You know, let me open up a bunch of browser
tabs here and figure out what this online course thing is about? Like what does it take to create successful
online courses question mark how do marketplaces work? How do you beat the algorithms to be the top
ranking? What is good pedagogical design? I remember I open like 45 tabs, and I just
read everything there was to know about the time on online courses. [Tyler] Everything? [Johnathan] Yeah this was in 2012. [Tyler] Okay. [Johnathan] Sorry, 2000, it was October 2011. And we came out with the course on December
26th which turns out to be a really significant date in our company, but on December 26th,
2011 and I mean lo and behold we all the speed reading that I had done and all the kind of
learning that I had done work, and ended up being one of the top courses on udemy within
30 days. Pencil what when I come out when I started
I was like if I could just make $1,000 a month, that’s enough for me to live in this shared
bedroom that I’m living in Tel Aviv, and then it would be amazing. I remember I hit publish, and then I went
on a ski trip, and it was in January and I was in Switzerland with some friends, and
I happen to you at the Wi-Fi and I looked on my phone and I was like oh crap. We already made $2,000. [Tyler] No way. [Johnathan] That’s pretty crazy. I remember the first four days, we made $500. I was like that’s pretty good, but you know
launch bubble. So fast forward, we kind of groggy organically
on udemy and for a long time this was just a side project for me and I was flying back
and forth to East Africa and looking at opportunities to kind of serve the developing world with
some different Tech Solutions, and I was volunteering at different startups and it kind of gave
me the freedom to work on things that maybe wouldn’t have worked on if I didn’t have you
know, a few thousand dollars come in period I just grew. And then I grew and grew, and then people
started the man in the podcast, and then they started saying well why don’t you have a book? Why haven’t you written a book? Okay, so we get a book and then we did another
course, then we get a podcast. At some point a good friend of mine Dr. Anthony
(inaudible) and I were doing a course, she and he said something along the lines of like
yeah but that’s just udemy. We both teach online on you to me and at the
time I making you know, pretty significant amount of money. I’m like, what do you mean just udemy? Udemy the Big Kahuna in the online course
space. Andy goes well how much do you know, I won’t
give you specific numbers but it goes how much to think my own website makes in relation
to udemy? And I go well come on how many people actually
buy you know $400 cores? And it gives me the number and my jaw just
dropped. A minus or responses well I don’t need that. I don’t want to do that. This isn’t you know about money for me and
whatnot. But any kind of, it started to grind on me,
like all these little things that you can’t do when someone pays $10 for a course you
know you can fly around on the World to interview an expert because that doesn’t leave fit into
the model. It kind of started running on me and I was
like What if I could offer a no-holds-barred ultra-premium courseware if tomorrow like
one of the world’s experts tells me that I can interview him, for thousands of dollars,
I say yes. Because it’s worth it. Or if tomorrow I need to hire a new staff
member to help me to customer service because we want 24-hour premium service, I can do
it. Well lo and behold, interestingly enough December
26th, 2015, we launched a master class on Thinkific. And you guys did something very very smart. Stop me at any point if you don’t want me
to dig deeper — [Tyler] No continue. I’m enjoying this story time. Keep telling the story, keep telling the story [Johnathan] So and I’ve never told the story
exactly like this but you know you learn about, this is another thing I learned along the
way is that copyrighting and creative storytelling. So we launched this master class at the same
time we launched an upgraded and proved professionally recorded, not webcam recorded version of art
2.0 course in the Big Marketing push. And, and, Thinkific had done something very
very smart. I mean we surveyed the market anyway but used
before we were ready, you were guys were like hey, can we migrate your course so I’ll have
your own white label? And I was like yeah, alright cool if it doesn’t
cost me anything to do it. So we already had a Thinkific account set
up but I think we only ever sold one copy because some guy was like I refuse to do business
with udemy. I was like okay cool. Here’s a link. So it was all set up, everything was great,
it was awesome to set up. You know there were some Kinks and bugs and
different features that we wanted that you guys have been really good about implementing,
under still stuff that we want to do that I think we’re, we’re along garden about and
kind of nudging you guys. But in short you know, it kind of churned
a long and udemy had this huge crash. When they change their pricing model. And then suddenly it went from being 25% of
our business, this Thinkific website, our own premium academy, to being 50. So that was meaningful. We’ve doubled down kind of to get away from
the kind of the kind of specifics and also because I think the more recent stuff will
get into a different question, but it’s now we have far outpaced our udemy sales with
Thinkific. We have, dedicated people for marketing, and
advertising separately and we hired a full-time video editor, I mean we’ve got like a proper
business and it’s all around the majority of it, at least 60% at this point, is revenues
from our ultra to premium stuff. [Tyler] Okay, cool. [Johnathan] Pretty cool. [Tyler] Yeah, thanks for, thanks for telling
the story. So just to recap it was back in about 2011
to 2012 that you decided to create your own course. Having a bit of an entrepreneur, an entrepreneurial
background and a marketing background you knew to do some marketing research on the
topic you talk to your target audience, these are really important steps we always tell
people to do. I see you made your first course, you put
it on udemy, which is the market place. Lots of inexpensive courses there, but a big
audience. That you had access to. And so you build up a bit of an audience there
by putting courses there even made some money as well, and then I guess about a year now,
almost a year now it’s when they did that pricing change period. [Johnathan] Right. [Tyler] I remember because we did a blog post
on what happened with their pricing change and how people could use still, still put
courses on udemy but also leverage that exposure to help build their brand and things like
that. And to this day that’s one of our most popular
blog post because I guess a lot of people are still trying to figure out how, how, how
to build their businesses using udemy and dealing with that price change. She made the shift from, you’re still teaching
on udemy, correct? You still see your courses there? [Johnathan] Yeah, we still have one of the
top courses on there, actually. But we do it as, and it’s interesting. My colleague and I Anthony after I kind of
got the punchline and realize like how smart it was what he was doing and he realized how
smart it was what I was doing and some other avenues in my business, we built the course
around this, and at the time it didn’t really talk about the premium level like, the talked
about how do you connect udemy to a podcast, to a book, and how do you have a multi-channel
Content marketing kind of ecosystem? And now we are in the process of updating
its so when we were building a 20 course suite which goes into the next level strategy like
how do you, how do you up sell people from udemy to Thinkific when it’s like 25 times
the price and how to get people off the podcast on the website? How do you manage the mailing list? How do you write copy, when you don’t have
udemy driving ads for you and how do you do your ads and all that kind of stuff so we’re
building that, and and that’s being you know, the product of years and years of us learning,
and kind of figured out how that goes, but that’s exactly it is, we now see, my company
also Anthony’s company is we see all these things that stop and it’ll. So I get you into my echo system as opposed
to just ads, I’ll bring you in Via ads, via podcast feed, the applaud, via audible Amazon,
or if via udemy and it’s great way to qualify, qualified buyers and instead of paying for
leads, I’m getting paid for leads. And there are a lot of strategies and kind
of innovations that I worked on in kind of again this is the beauty of when, when the
budget is no longer an issue because you’re selling premium level courses. You can afford to fly to San Francisco, sit
down with you to me and be like hey, you’re the rules that you guys have specified. Like here’s what I want to do. I just sit with them and say like alright,
podcast episodes like where’s that line? How can I market this? Am I allowed to do that? And really hash out an invite in some ways
different white hat strategies to up-sell people in an environment where the sales are
not, strictly speaking, allowed. And I think that’s too, even Anthony, he works
at the lot of clients that I do, and he’s like your business is completely, completely
different from every other client I work with because the amount of warm traffic that we
drive is, is phenomenal. I mean would put out a podcast episode every
week, we just crossed 1.2 million downloads on that, our udemy courses have 81,000 people. Ad our book, I don’t even know how many downloads,
so if there’s anything really to be learned from what I do, it’s, it’s to have tears in
your funnel and then I’m all for hedgehog concepts I’m all for focus, but I think that
makes a lot of sense to have people come in at entry levels of the product and if you
look at guys like Tim Ferriss or Lewis Howes, they’re doing the exactly same thing . they
have the free tier, which is weekly podcast episodes. They had the cheap tier, which is there books
for $99.99. Whatever. And then in the case of Tim and Lewis, they
skip directly. But in the case of a lot of other guys like
JLD. John Lee Dumas, they jump up to the 500 or
the 2000 and stuff like that and I think, I mean it’s basic microeconomics, right? It’s trying to capture willingness to pay
at any possible place. [Tyler] Yeah, no that’s awesome so you’ve
got quite a few different channels setup, you’ve got the podcast, the blog the books,
the courses on udemy. Which I guess I’m more like introductory or
shorter versions of your, your premium stuff that you ve got on Thinkific. [Johnathan] In a sense, yeah they’re lighter
versions and think if I made any mistake in this whole launch it’s that I gave way-way
too much in my, and my udemy 2.0 version and that was because I really, I was embarrassed
by the first version. It was recorded with a webcam in a blanket
taped on the background. I’m a big fan of the MVP. The minimum viable product. And so I did that you know, the microphone
was my MacBook with a towel over it to try and reduce Echo. As you can see today I’ve invested in much
more and kind of audio quality, but I was embarrassed. So I really wanted to incentivize people to
upgrade. And udemy obviously has a lifetime access,
lifetime updates things like for a kind of the moral ethical component it needed not
to be, it needed to not be a redo, you know when exactly the same content just higher
quality audio. Because that I would feel I need to give away
for free. It needed to be 50% more content plus better
audio, plus improvements, plus me worksheets. So what that did is kind of bring the udemy
new and renovated version a little bit too close for comfort to the Master Class. The benefit of doing that is that it has pushed
me over the last year-and-a-half to just go all out. I mean like the stuff that we’re doing in
the master class now where is that value, is unprecedented like last week, we had a
full 3d rendering mock-up created about real life, Memory Palace that I use, and I walk
people through and this is like a masterclass exclusive. I walk people through a virtual reality tour
of this Memory Palace, and help them store the different like mnemonic techniques along
the way and nobody’s doing that. Right? In my industry, it’s like actually taking
it to the next level like beyond the videos, beyond the power points, of virtual reality. And so we do anything we can a masterclass
to really provide as much value as possible to the student. [Tyler] Yeah, that’s very cool. And you bring up a really good point going
back to creating the first course that you were embarrassed by it. It was good enough at the time to where was
the best you could do at the time, but looking back you were embarrassed by it. Made a minimum viable product, or minimal
reliable course you might say. So, but I think that’s good because that’s
where a lot of a start, right? A first course is not perfect. I think I would try to make a first course
perfect, we might never get around to finishing the thing. I think it’s more important to just get something
out there, get some feedback, get some students, get some practice. [Johnathan] Get some validation. [Tyler] How has your course — yes, and some
validation that’s very important. But how has your course production process
evolved since then? I mean you’ve got a lot better, I see a nice
studio setup I and you there what are some of the ways that if, with your most recent
courses and if you were to server kind, of course, tomorrow let’s say, what type of training
might be involved in what type of equipment might you be using? [Johnathan] Sure, so what’s funny is the content
creation process has not changed in general. I still write an outline, I sit down, and
write a bare-bones outline. Actually, I just ride titles so that it’s
my belief Tyler that people can learn anything online for free. I think you could learn anything on YouTube. You can learn everything I teach on YouTube. So why do people pay me hundreds of dollars? Because I craft a Learning Journey, and I’ll
take the guesswork out of learning, and I obviously take some investment in their success,
and I give them one-on-one blah blah blah. But it’s actually out the learning, it’s the
environment that people are paying for, and I know this. And so I very deliberately craft structured
Learning Journey step build on themselves. Because the number one most frustrating thing
for my students is okay, what do I do now? So anytime a student asked me what do I do
now? That’s a failure of my product. So that has not changed it all. I right now line, and then I write lecture
by lecture by lecture, one by one, I have a lot of techniques that I use to make my
content Evergreen and modifiable and modular, and everything else has changed. So the first stages, II course I did, I hired
someone to film, and I used a professional studio. So that’s a huge jump in quality, then a huge
jump in just kind of I would say user experience, and also like my peace of mind. The next course I did that I hired someone
to film and edit. And that was the next job, you know. A freelancer to filament Studio blah blah
blah blah blah, we kind of went up and up and up and up and up. Now, I’ve gone all the way to the other extreme,
which is a ready plug-and-play studio, as you can see behind you. Everything is configured in such a way like
down to the millimeter, the microphone never moves, the lighting never changes, like the
room is acoustically sealed so that all the windows are triple-glazed and everything. So I have that level of consistency, and then
we’ve hired full-time video editor as well. We have standards, procedures, so all of our
titles we have the color specified, the time specified, different camera angles, and we
go all the way out to make everything smooth so we record in 4k. So that any time I make a mistake, we can
cut camera angles. Or make it seem like we cut camera angles. We, we have specialized processes for how
we do revisions. We two different collaborative software is. As far as equipment, what do we use? I actually don’t recommend the camera that
we use. We use a JVC hm170, I wished we got the 250
because it automatically connects to Wi-Fi, so if anyone out there, it’s like, this big
4K it’s behind me kind of lost against the wall but it’s this, then DSL ours are great. I found it to be a little bit easier than
using DSLR s but if someone wants to use this for stills as well, DSLR s are great, we’ll
use a teleprompter from interact media and then for microphones what use Sennheiser MKE
888 I believe. Or the 666. We use one of the Sennheiser shotguns I used
to record with lav mics and I just found it to be a pain, pain in the butt. In terms of if you want to make gestures,
if you’re talking to anyone and touch your heart and say I personally think, which I
think is a trust-building gesture, and four lights but use a bunch of LED panels and stuff
like that. Acoustic treatment, you can see we have all
this phone and, that’s it. We record and white screen now, but we’re
working on green screen. I have more LED panels coming in the next
couple weeks that we can record green screen, and then backgrounds can change, we can do
really really cool stuff. Our video editor is like a complete Rockstar,
and you just do that I didn’t know you could do, to be honest with you. So. [Tyler] Cool, yeah and you, and you work way
up to this level I mean it’s a very personal standard that you’ve got now but just beyond
that, I realized that’s what you were up to you know you didn’t create this having— [Johnathan] yeah, I always like telling people
like if you’re not going to make this a full-time job, and part of the reason I built this is
to motivate myself to create a new contact. Because I’m kind of at the point like our
marketing machine if you will, is in such a way that we don’t actually have to roll
out of your content anymore. But I want to, because I feel like I have
an obligation and I feel like it’s the right thing to do even if it’s just free content
on YouTube, and so I knew my building this thing and thinking tons of cash into it but
I would feel the drive and you know as we speak we’re riding to new courses and stuff
like that but I started level, I would encourage people, find a local Studio. I was paying 500 bucks today for full-day
recording and then you know, you get a college student or something to bring a camera comment
record for you, because the level like the level of speed reading expert, and like the
level of knowledge that you have to overcome in terms of like does your skin tone work
better with tungsten lamps or you know, daylight lamps, or LEDs, and don’t let anyone light
your face with anything but quino s, and what’s your wipeout, oh it’s just crazy. Like people study four years like the videographer
that I used for the first few courses studied four years to learn this stuff, and it’s kind
of like if you really want to maintain that level of quality and also just had like have
the peace of mind, especially when it comes to the editing. I mean, we do our courses in such a way that
we had a lot of editing, edited animated titles, and everything to emphasize every core point. Images, to emphasize everything that I just
talked about so if I mention a book, we pop it up next to me. All that kind of stuff and the sickest I’ve
been in the last 5 years is when I try to edit two different courses because it’s like
the level of stress, and the sitting and staring at the screen for 12 hours, it’s just a nightmare. [Tyler] Yeah, and I think a big takeaway there
is get help when you need it. Like, recognize that as a course creator,
your job is creating courses, funny ways to serve your students, delegate as much as you
can, you can’t become the master of everything. As much as you can, you can’t become a master
of everything. [Johnathan] Yeah, totally and I think it’s
really important to note like, why do we become entrepreneurs? There’s a couple different reasons. It’s ultimately it all boils down to freedom,
right? To work on the things we want to work on,
that we think are important, to work when we want to work, so it’s the house, it’s the
what, it’s the why. Right? And you don’t become an entrepreneur to like
part of my expression, take shit and work on stuff that makes you miserable. If you want to work on something makes you
miserable, go get a day job. Right? If you want to be an entrepreneur, take full
advantage of the benefit and say you know what I freaking hate dealing with Facebook
ads, so I’m going to pay someone, and I’m going to pay him $600 a month and, and the
grand scheme of things you know I’m going to make sure that it’s ROI positive, but it’s
not that much money. And I think that’s one of the beauties of
being an entrepreneur is getting to that point where you can, and we all know, we all do
our first Facebook ads, we all do our first course, like you have to, you understand what
the task is to be able to delegate it but the minute that you’re able to say you know
what, I don’t like answering customer service emails, so I’m going to hire someone, and
they’re going to do it for me and they’re going to do a better job than me. I think, I think, is just being a sound smart
entrepreneur rather than being what my mother likes to call penny wise and pound foolish. [Tyler] yeah, that’s good advice. Well, Jonathan, you’re showing a lot of good
stuff. Is it okay if I keep you for a couple more
minutes a few more questions for you? [Johnathan] Yeah, I’d love to. [Tyler] Okay, cool. You mention the term marketing machine which,
which means you got some things and place that are selling your courses on autopilot
you might say so if you could just give us a quick overview of what you’re doing to market
your courses right now in to generate sales? Does a lot of it require your time or is some
of it automated? [Johnathan] All automated. I’m the only automation, I’m the automation
expert. Right? I actually teach it course on Automation and
productivity as well. We bundle it with our superlearner course
because a lot of people come to us and like I don’t have 30 minutes a day, that’s why
I need this course to read faster. I’m like okay cool, so we develop like a four-hour
crash course, goes through all the highlights of the productivity and automation, and it— [Tyler] It’s like giving them extra time. [Johnathan] Yeah, yeah. Exactly give me four hours on a Sunday, I
will— one guy I interviewed, total tangent here but, I interview this guy last week because
he wrote to me he’s like dude you changed my life. So he’s working as a school administrator,
and it was taking him about 10 hours a day to do it work and he had like all these family
issues, issues with the wife, the kids, you know it was that kind of situation. It was like, he called me and he emailed me
because he’s like my work now takes 4 hours a day like what do I do with other for hours
I have to sit at work. I’m being paid hourly. What do I do? And so we brainstorm some ideas for him. I just thought that that was so cool like
he’s well just one tip and the course took 2 hours off my day, and that’s amazing. Anyways so yeah, everything we do when our
marketing is all automated. I mean I, I do need to write copy and stuff,
Facebook ads go stale and stuff like that. But at the current iteration, and well I want
to back up and press and say it’s taken us two-and-a-half years to get to this point
just interesting and trying things, and you know hiring different people and stuff like
that so it’s a lot to swallow, and that’s partly why Anthony and I want to create this
course to walk people through it, because we’ve been, I’m spent tens of thousands of
dollars getting it wrong. So don’t be overwhelmed by how all this works,
basically, we have people coming in 5 6, 10 different ways from 10 different places. They are all getting customized email drip
campaigns. So if you sign up for a free trial, I’m going
to encourage you everyday to do this new task until day 7, or whatever when it’s time to
pay and then I’m going to offer you something, or encourage you with something else. Every side of mine that you land on, every
lane, every everywhere, you’re getting pixeled and retargeted. I’m so the only ads we are doing right now,
are Facebook and Instagram. Those are almost exclusively driving to a
webinar, which is a pre-recorded everwebinar. Real comments, take it from real webinars,
inserted in so people feel like there’s activity. Would you read the comments, but I’m usually
not in the room. No one from our staff is in the room, and
then it’s offering a very special offer that only comes to the webinar to get a bundle
deal package so on and so forth if you purchase like, you’re getting some amazing extra bonuses. If you purchase within the first 48 hours,
you’re getting other less amazing, but still amazing bonuses, and then that’s pretty much
it. We’re also, the drip campaigns and emails
and stuff are going to continue, you’re going to continue getting retargeted , you know
until we’ve decided this isn’t a good fit for you, but that’s basically how the machine
works and, and, yeah it’s being really really successful for us in terms of ad spend to
dollars earned. So yeah. [Tyler] Yeah. Okay, cool. So you’ve got a lot of content out there you
know, blog post, podcast for example that brings people to your website. You’re retargeting them, running ads to those
people who have been visiting, so these are people that are somewhat familiar with your
brand, right? [Johnathan] Yeah, we’re also doing cold ads
though. So we’ve recently started it in the last couple
months doing cold ads. We are doing really really well with lookalike
audiences on Facebook. We have a professional doing our ads, so he’s
configuring all the audiences, he’s turning the ads, he’s monitoring the ad spend and
optimizing to make sure that we’re getting the best possible outcomes. But yeah we’ve actually, because that it’s,
one thing to convert warm traffic to people who already know like, and trust you. It’s a whole other animal to take people who
at one o’clock in the afternoon have never heard of you, two by three o’clock in the
afternoon are paying hundreds of dollars for a program they’ve never even knew existed. And that was that that was a huge gap to bridge
for us. Like a huge gap the bridge, but it was the
difference between doing you know, five figures a month I’m doing 5 figures a week or even
5 figures a day. Is just getting out there, because our lookalike
audiences are in the millions, and so we are very fortunate in that we teach something
that many many people want to know. So I will say, and this is another instance
where professional help can be really beneficial because I personally hate this stuff, like
I really don’t like him figuring ads. I love to write coffee, I don’t mind running
the coffee, but in terms of actually going into Facebook, managing and checking it, I’m
getting like a chest compression just thinking about it like this dress because we are also
spending a lot of money on Facebook ads, and like if something goes wrong, and you have
like one thing misconfigured, Facebook will just take it and be like yeah this AdWords
even if it doesn’t convert, in terms of actual sales and just run with it and it’s your credit
card on the line, and you can spend, you can spend booka bucks on there and see none of
it ever come back. So yeah– [Tyler] That’s another— [Johnathan] That’s another reason to have
someone. Yeah. [Tyler] Yeah, exactly another reason to have
an expert handle that thing for you if that’s not your expertise. Another thing I wanted to discuss was helping
your students succeed. Now I know you’ve become really good at creating
content that keeps people going to the lessons, I mean your courses are really organized and
sequential, so people can follow that step by step, but is there anything else that you’re
doing to help create that environment where they’re absorbing information and implementing
the information like, have you got quizzes set up or discussions set up or private group
setup for your students, anything to do with the retention and engagement? [Johnathan] Yeah, yeah, yes, so it’s interesting
because on the one hand, so I have a couple different views before I go into what we’re
actually doing. On the one hand, I know coming from kind of
my background that 27% of books that are read are actually opened. So, you know 73% of books haven’t ever had
their spine cracked. And so I tried to beat myself up if my students
buy the course because I realize that sometimes students buy a course just for the hope. Because it’s like an option one day if it
ever gets his bad all over this course, and I’ve done that a million times. I have a hundred online courses that I’ve
never opened but obviously, I won’t be able to take the course because I believe in and
I believe that it changes people’s lives. So we do a lot of different things. One, we do Market to people after they have
bought the course. I checked in with them, I send them automated
emails, say like hey how’s it going, let me know if there’s any problems. We do have worksheets, we do have a Facebook
Community we have premium service and support. So in our Master Class level products, I personally
answer the questions. And we have guides, quizzes, daily training
logs, all kinds of different games that people opposed to play so it’s really active learning
experience with. With that said, I view every question is a
minor failure right? So anytime a student has to ask a question,
that means something is unclear in the course. And obviously, every refund is a major Failure
for us. My whole model is built around automating
absolutely everything. I’m so if there’s anything on clearance. Sure. So people ask me a question such as hey I’m
stuck on this game, I’ll come out with a new lecture that’s called why it’s important not
to get hung up on the games. And explain it like hey, I want you guys to
understand these games are just like tivities but they are not a supplement for real world
practice. If you don’t get along with the game, if you
like the game, go out there and memorize to new people’s names, forget about this cheesy
game you know, so we put in the course. So very costly trying to eliminate any form
of friction for the student and make resources and information available to them. I don’t offer one-on-one coaching because
I don’t believe in doing things that don’t scale. So I mean things that are unclear that require
a certain level of hands-on attention for every student, just doesn’t fit into my you
know mindset and I view it as the student should be empowered to do far beyond what
they imagined possible without me ever having to intervene. And if I have to intervene it’s because I
screwed up. So. [Tyler] Okay. [Johnathan] But we are also not selling a
$3,500 course. Because if we were then we would be expected
for me to actually review the worksheets and stuff like that, so. [Tyler] Right, right. Yeah, yeah, the pricing that you choose for
your courses has a big impact on you know what, how much time you can trade to help
your students and help and what kind of support they receive. All that kind of stuff. So as we wrap up here because you’ve, you
publish courses on marketplaces, publish courses on Thinkific, and when you made that decision
to create courses on your own branded site. Create your own online school. I’m sure you’ve looked at a couple of their
platforms, so much made you choose to put your courses on Thinkific, and what is it
about Thinkific that s keeping you, keeping you using, like what do you like most about
the platform? [Johnathan] Well, as I saw it a lot of the
other platforms out there more fully fleshed-out. I looked Fedora, which is now a school keep,
I don’t even know what they’re actually called now but they changed their name. [Tyler] Oh, uh, Teachable. [Johnathan] Teachable, yeah. School Keep is another one. And it looks like I will just need to do a
lot of customization to do what I wanted. I like Thinkific because I call it the Shopify
of online course platforms. It’s like, it’s limited but it’s limited in
a good way. So it’s kind of more like an iOS then it is
an Android and that there’s not a whole hell of a lot of customization besides maybe this
seems that you can do, and I think that’s good. Because I come from a background, I had a
business in e-commerce right, and we were on OS Commerce and then we were on Magento. And it was this big, monster software that
could be customized A Million Ways to Sunday and I wish that we have been on Shopify. Which is just like here’s what you need, you
don t need other shit. You can’t modify this, you can’t break it,
and I think that’s really great. So I look for those kinds of simple solutions. I love Thinkific because it integrates with
a bunch of different stuff. It takes a lot of decision-making that I don’t
want to be making. And it just works. It works really really well. The time is really really solid, and above
all the support has been phenomenal. Sometimes it takes you guys a long time to
integrate a new feature, but you actually integrate new features when I ask for them. We actually have you know, with our plan,
we have pretty awesome support. We used to have a dedicated rap, but I think
that’s changed. We always get a response, we always get really
really great customer service, and even as you guys bro, you know even though I don’t
feel like it’s me, and Catherine was her name, you know and we had like a one-on-one contact,
I still feel like you guys give a damn about me as a customer, and, and work to constantly
improve my experience and experience of my students. So, that’s huge. [Tyler] Awesome, well thanks for the feedback. I appreciate that. Last question for you Jonathan, are there
any words of encouragement or advice that you’d like to wrap up with and pass on to
other online course creators as they’re jumping into this world? [Johnathan] yeah, I’ll, I’ll restate what
I said before not because I don’t have something else that I love to share, but because I think
it’s so important it bears repeating. And that is everything that you are teaching,
can be learned online for free. So figure out why someone would want to pay
you to learn something that they can learn for free. And that can mean premium service to support
it, it can mean hand-holding, it can mean direction, it can mean innovation in the way
that you teach it. That’s our biggest value-adds is like we’re,
we’re the only one out there who’s going to teach you the memory stuff in a way that enhances
the speed reading and the speed reading in a way that enhances the memory. So we can be value creation, but try to keep
that in mind because I think a lot of people come at it from the approach of you know that
there are, they are offering something that people can’t get anywhere and that’s kind
of an attitude that’s going to lead to students going well what am I really getting here? And so that’s I think, the most important
thing and then the second most important thing is just remember, just because you build it,
doesn’t mean it will come. So have a marketing plan, and place. Do the market research to know that there
are people out there willing to pay for the stuff. Before you invest the time and the money and
the effort. And know how you’re going to reach those people
because I see it in the start-up world all the time, these brilliant engineers to build
an incredible piece of software that may or may not be better than anything else in the
market, but if people don’t know how to find your product, you know, what good is it? And every entrepreneur out there as build
a product out there that nobody sees. Don’t be one of those entrepreneurs. So. [Tyler] Yeah, for sure. Great advice. Well Jonathan, thank you so much. This is been a pleasure, and if our audience
wants to get in touch with you, or check out your courses learn more about what you’re
doing, what is the best place that we could redirect them? [Johnathan] Yeah, everything I do from the
blog, podcast, everything is listed at JLE, dot VI, so John LE.VI, and there’s links to
everything if you guys want to check it out, and become a super learner. If you want to see what we’re doing, if you
guys want to check outdoor marketing funnels work, you can sign up there, you get a bunch
of fascinating emails about Benjamin Franklin about my personal stories, and yeah, they
can check me out there for a list of all of it. [Tyler] Okay, awesome. Well thanks again, and we’ll keep in touch. [Johnathan] Alright, take care, Tyler.

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