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If you have substantial experience and knowledge in a particular field, and you wish to leverage them to create a sustainable source of income, what are your options?
Traditionally, you would set up an office/store/building/warehouse, hire employees, store inventory, and then sell them. This is precisely what I did with my first venture in 2017- it was a local healthy meal company in Canada, with a chef, a VP chef, a nutritionist, an operations team, delivery executives, and me and my husband at the helm. However, it was a company founded on an outdated, expensive, time-consuming, and high-risk-oriented business model.
Following that endeavor, I developed a penchant for social media marketing. I dabbled with different methods, did a comparative analysis of results, and improved my learning curve, while offering my marketing advice for free in exchange for valuable feedback. This culminated in the launch of my marketing agency, and before long, I had built a template to create million-dollar businesses- something that I intend to share in this article. But perhaps more importantly, I intend to acquaint you with the new, knowledge-economy business paradigm, using which you can create digital courses that can potentially take your earnings up to six figures.
That said, the goal isn’t self-aggrandizement but impact – to change the lives of people for the better, and create an empowering movement. This is because I strongly believe that, as a course creator or trainer, there is nothing more gratifying than receiving a “thank you” message from a student who has successfully monetized their knowledge, and is touching many more lives. My objective is to help you circumvent the “trial-and-error” period, and minimize the time-to-profit. It is consequential because between having only 10,000 followers on Instagram, 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, and selling my $27 online course to 37 people to make a measly thousand dollars in 2018, and later raking in over a million dollars in 2021, I have come a long way, riddled with challenges and learnings.
The knowledge economy: Your gateway to success
The new business paradigm is predicated on the “knowledge economy,” which is defined as an economic system in which the production of services depends primarily on knowledge activities. This departs from the traditional business model in more ways than one. Let’s start with an example: you are a seasoned baker whose chocolate cakes boast fans across the world. If you restrict yourself to the old business model, you would be selling cakes from a bakery that comes with many challenges of its own. Instead, you could be in the comfort of your home, create baking courses online, and create worldwide impact.
Plus, in the latter scenario, you will not only face less hassle, lower initial capital, and laborious processes, but you’d also get to expand your outreach from a thousand customers in your area to millions across the world. We are talking a different scale in terms of achievable earnings and impact. Also, there are intrinsic advantages associated with digital ways: once you have a tutorial video, there is no limit to how many times you can market and share it- you can digitally measure your outreach, your entire business can be visualized on a hand-held device, etc. But more than everything, you are tapping into people’s innate desire to get their hands on anything that is fun, or simply an answer to their pain points.
If you’re still reading, then chances are you have a fledgling venture or an idea waiting to become a business. Most importantly, you have enough encouragement to give wings to your ideas, and follow your instincts. However, while enthusiasm is great, you will need a concrete action plan, starting with clarity on what is your core offering/subject/topic. The following steps will steer you in the right direction, from understanding the need-gap to choosing your niche. Your playing field is the one where customers are facing challenges and are in need of actionable solutions.
Step #1: Figure out your shareable skills and knowledge The first step is to self-evaluate your knowledge, competencies, experiences, and how you can add value to a course. At this point, I suggest you put yourself in the current situation of the student, because what may seem easy to you may not be so for them. Your audience is looking to go from point A to point B in a very smooth way- which is the priority you must align your skills and knowledge with.
Step #2: Identify solutions to the struggles and challenges of your audience Your prospective buyer will sign up only when you offer the most viable solution to their problem, or at least steer them in the right direction. People won’t just pay for any content; it must truly add value to their life. So, in order to position yourself as the right solutions provider, you have to first understand the nature of the challenges.
Step #3: Determine your price point As you develop your solution/content and do your homework, the logical next step is to determine the willingness of the audience to pay for it. This can be done by looking at people’s comments, reviews, and positive responses to your courses, posts, etc. If you get your calculations right, you can ascertain your potential earnings.
Step #4: Remember that what you put in is what you get out Enthusiasm is often an unconditional reflex- something that is hard to muster on cue. So, it is important that you ensure you are enthusiastic in your pursuit of creating an income-generating course. If the course in question is closely aligned with your career or academic credentials, then chances are you’ll find the required enthusiasm. However, if you find yourself asking, “I wish I could learn this, but I am not sure,” or “How can I create such an online course” after seeing a similar example, then you have things to do to ascertain the feasibility. Write down every idea you have for an online course, even if you’re unsure. After completing this list, start thinking about what your ideal customer might benefit from.
Step #5: Make use of social media A great way to get to know your audience is to connect with them- which is fortunately easy to do on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Start by posing questions in stories, image posts, and videos. Get yourself acquainted with them, and use all the free tools at your disposal to try and capture the data. It doesn’t matter how big or small your audience is, as long as you engage with the ideal one. For example, you could ask: “For all aspiring entrepreneurs, if money wasn’t an issue, what kind of business would you open?” Whether you get the desired answer or not, it is an opportunity to respond, and build a relationship. You can let them answer in a designated box, vote, or choose a preferred answer from the given options. You can explore live streaming too.
At the end of the day, remember this: ultimately, who knows you better than yourself? Let your course be inspired by your own journey too. Look at self-transformations. Chances are that you too were not alien to the problems that your ideal audience is currently facing. So, ask yourself: what did you feel at the time? What solution did you need? Who did you need? What results did you want to achieve? Your story is important here, as it will create a deeper connection between you and your audience. Some of the answers to the aforementioned questions could inadvertently lead you to your new course, its topic, and its components. I often determine what could potentially work before selecting my next course. If something has worked well in the past, I’m looking to improve its efficacy. This is the tested-and-verified strategy behind my success, and, in all likelihood, can be yours too.