Aug. 10, 2022

How to Best Create Powerful Online Courses that Sell - BM330

How to Best Create Powerful Online Courses that Sell - BM330

In this podcast episode, expert Johnny Beirne shares his insights on how to set up a simple home office studio to deliver amazing online meetings and professional online courses. You will learn how to create an online course that engages and retains students!


In this podcast episode, expert Johnny Beirne shares his insights on how to set up a simple home office studio to deliver amazing online meetings and professional online courses. You will learn how to create an online course that engages and retains students!

Here's a breakdown of what's covered in the powerful episode:

  • Powerful online course tips for authors.
  • Why online learning is so important in today's marketplace
  • How to put together a course even if the idea scares you
  • Getting people to complete online courses because most people don't
  • Common mistakes instructors make that you want to definitely avoid

And much, much more...

Here's how to contact Johnny for more information about his services
https://johnnybeirne.com

Transcript

[Susan Friedmann]
 Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week I introduce you to a marketing master who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books. 

Today, my special guest is Johnny Beirne, who helps experts, educators, and entrepreneurs set up their own simple home office studio so they can deliver amazing online meetings and professional online courses without any previous experience. Johnny's helped some of the world's leading thought leaders to stand out on screen. All the way from Ireland. The first time we've had somebody from Ireland. Johnny, what an absolute pleasure it is to welcome you to the show, and thank you for being this week's guest expert and mentor.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Excellent. Well, online courses, I know that that's something that you are a true expert in. So let's have a look at how we can just examine that in more detail so that our authors can get the most out of learning about online courses. Let's start off, first of all, and why should an author actually have an.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Online course, particularly for authors? But indeed, any expert subject matter expert should have one because essentially it allows us to get out of the "time-for-money" trap. It allows us to reach more and teach more and have more freedom impact on income at the same time. And why I love to talk specifically to authors about it nonfiction. The analogy I use is that you've got a script for a great movie, you just haven't turned on the camera yet. I believe authors are very well placed to take the book and actually break the chapters into lessons and break the lessons into a little bit more detail, perhaps with some additional practical things that they can share via video that is kind of difficult to share in a book. And that's why I think authors specifically should take it on.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 What I found, and I've heard also from many of my authors, is that it's quite overwhelming to even consider putting a course together. How do you take this overwhelm out of the equation for authors?
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Sure, I suppose there are two things. Anything that's new and can be somewhat technical can feel a little bit overwhelming for sure. Whether that's driving a car, learning how to use a computer, or moving from Mac to PC, or PC to Mac, or buying a tablet or smartphone, the list goes on and on. But when we think back on how overwhelming it felt, and yet we've now mastered the skill, what drove us forward was a necessity. 

Now, we might feel that having an online course isn't as necessary or as much of a necessity as being able to send an email or drive a car, et cetera. But when we think about the benefits, it can actually make it feel a little bit more attractive and indeed necessary. In other words, if we're struggling to maintain a relationship, if we're struggling to spend time with family, if we're struggling with our health, a lot of that is down to time. In fact, all of it's down to time. And therefore, if we can just have a think about what it would feel like to actually have more time and more income, then certainly the overwhelming kind of has a different perspective. It kind of feels like, yes, it might feel overwhelming, but boy, am I going to have a great life when I do it. 

That's one tip is to actually almost look at the fear of not doing it rather than the fear of doing it. It's something that Tony Robbins talks about as well. We don't want to look back in the autumn of our lives and go on. Rarely would people say, oh, I should have worked even more. So if we look at the freedom element of what we can do with that freedom and income, the second thing is to get proper advice, okay? Whether it be me or somebody else who has the experience and has a framework for people to follow. And I've developed a framework over the last ten years. I use it every time, my students use it every time, and my clients, and it works if people are looking at YouTube and reading a few blog posts and buying a book or two and they have some kind of disjointed approach to creating an online course. 

And that too is another reason why it feels overwhelming. So there are my two key things, is to think about how good it's going to be once you do it, and also to follow a proven formula or framework from an expert who's done it before. Very much so.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Prove an expert.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 And then I suppose the third thing would be to pick a topic that you're passionate about. If it's a fairly big topic, break it down into a couple of smaller topics. The key thing is to create a simple yet transformational course for your audience that is about 90 minutes long. It's not going to be overwhelming for you or indeed for your students. 

That would be 33-minute lessons on average. And if you break it down into simple steps, because if I was to talk to you about book writing or publishing, I could extract a course out of you, it's when we try to extract a course out of ourselves, we kind of get caught up. So sometimes, even if we sit down with a couple of clients and say, you've worked with me for years, what are a couple of key things that has been transformational for you that I have taught you with my coaching? And they will say, well, you showed me how to effectively write a book, find a publisher, the dos and don'ts with Amazon and Kindle and audio. 

Do you know what I mean? And if you were to make notes, you would start to structure a course as well. So there are a number of very simple approaches that we can take. And what's key is it's not necessarily, in my experience, with your first course, it's not necessarily the profit it makes. It's that you go through the process. 

Okay. Because once you go through the process, it can be more valuable than the profit for your first course. And by that, I mean that you've gone through it. You learned a few new things, you've made some video lessons, and you've learned from that as well. It didn't take a huge amount of time, it didn't take a huge amount of money, but you can't unlearn it. And I often use the analogy for people who drive the car we learn to drive in, in a lot of cases, was never a dream car. They probably don't even exist if you're my age. But we mastered the skill and therefore we can drive lots of different cars. So that's a few things that I hope are helpful.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 It's so funny because as you said, that I had visions of the first car that I learned to drive in, which was a Fiat 500, and it was a stick shift. When I came to the States and had to drive on automatic, it was like, oh my goodness, what do I do? It did take a little bit of learning. Sure.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 And yet you had some of the other essential skills from driving the stick shift, correct?
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Very much so.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 And your first car from where I'm from would be a tractor.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Oh, okay. I've driven one of those. Just a little bit.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 There you go again.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 You've said some very interesting things and I want to go back and talk about them. And one is the fact that first of all, you said a 90-minute call, a 23-minute segment. What I have found putting together a course is one of the most challenging parts, is to keep it simple and not try and tell everything in one course. How do you help people overcome that? Because we've got this sort of curse of knowledge, and we feel we have to share the whole content with people.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Sure. So, if it feels or if it's a pretty big topic and what's the big topic? I mean, if we use a generic term like marketing, that's a massive topic. Okay. So, we could break that down into a smaller course on social media marketing. We could break it down even further and pick a particular social media platform. Like TikTok is pretty hot right now, so we're going to make a TikTok marketing course for busy entrepreneurs, which is going to be a lot easier to make than a course called Marketing. 

What I advise and what a lot of people do is they within their topic of expertise and they may have a few. And I have a not-so-scientific but effective formula around picking your first course from all the topics that you're an expert in. I would go a little bit an inch wide and a mile deep. What I mean by that is I could teach. And I used to have a course called Say It Once, Sell It After, which is the name of my book that's coming out. And a lot of people said, yeah, but I'm really struggling with the studio piece. 

And as you mentioned in your intro there, I help people set up their studio. So now I've got a course called Simple Studio Setup. And I've got a course called Presentation Transformation. People can buy those individually, or it becomes part of a bigger program. So what I advise people to do is if you're going to teach something, let's call it generically Marketing or writing a book, then let's look at how we could take writing a book or writing your first bestseller or whatever it might be, and say, right, let's look at making some smaller courses. And for people who want that big course, let's call it Big for now. And just for simplicity, we could offer it to them as a bundle of the smaller courses. 

So I would suggest to people within your area of expertise what is the biggest challenge? Okay, don't write the all-encompassing ten-hour course, particularly for your first one that covers everything. It will be overwhelming for you, and it may be overwhelming for your students. I would go deeper into something that's a real pain point. And for me, from Feedback, it was using a green screen to make professional courses faster and more immersive and engaging and so on. 

And that's why I made smaller courses. I would pick a topic within your topic, a smaller topic, so to speak, and write down very clearly and simply, what will people be able to do when they complete this course? And we work back from that, and we keep it very simple, and we need to check in with ourselves and say, is this fluff or is this essential? And if you launch it as a pilot, you can work with your students to help you to recalibrate. 

And that's where in step five of my nine-step framework, which step five is called Prove, where we actually sell it before we create it, then we have real people to work with who will help us avoid the curse of knowledge, who will help us avoid putting in too much, and will also help us avoid it, leave out stuff. And we should aspire to aim for approximately 90 minutes for our first course. That's worked well for me and people that I've worked with. So work backward from something smaller than just a big topic.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 And that's really helpful because you're right. I mean, we even talk about publishing a book. It's a huge topic, and there are lots of different aspects of this that you could talk about. Yes, boiling it down to sort of your lowest common denominator on this is a great strategy. How about the fact that I know that there are so many courses out there, I'm as much to blame as many. Start a course with so much energy, so much motivation, so much inspiration, and then life gets in the way and we don't finish it. Is there some technique that you incorporate within your courses to get people to finish them? What are some ideas that you have on that subject?
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Yeah, unfortunately, the statistics around the percentage of people who completed an online course in full is quite small. I suppose, firstly, if the pain is strong enough, they will complete the course. I mean, if their desire to master the skill and also the pain that it will solve, then they're more likely to. But within the course, when they join, you got to remind them of the benefits of mastering this skill and remind them of the consequences of not having this skill and remind them without being too morbid and stark, but to remind them that you signed up for this reason. 

And when you complete the course, you will get this result. You don't want to go backward or you don't want to stay where you are in this dire situation or whatever it might be. It might not be dire. But again, if we take a course about becoming an author, writing your first book, et cetera, we have to future pace and say, look, you complete this course, here's what's going to exist for you, here's what already exists for people who have been through this course and taken action. And remind them of the consequences of never writing the book that they've always wanted to write. 

As when Dwyne Dyer used to say, don't die with your song inside you. So it's a combination of exciting them to complete it, reminding them of the benefits, and now and again, reminding them of the consequences of not doing it. Encourage them, excite them, and support them. 

The scripts I use within my lessons, so you always finish with a reason to watch the next one. It's like if you are watching a Netflix box set and you're up at 04:00 A.m. Because it's just so good. You're watching episode after episode because, at the end of each one, they kind of leave you excited about the next one. And we want, ideally, our students up at 04:00 A.m., not necessarily 400 a. M, but we want to leave them at the end of each lesson excited and energized about taking the next one. S

o there's the terminology we can use. Like, for example, if I'm teaching people how to set up their studio, I would say something like and in the next lesson, I'll show you exactly how to use a green screen properly so you don't look fuzzy around the ears. And they're kind of going, yeah, because I can never get that fuzziness around my ears sorted out. So if you know their pain and you can address it and excite them to continue, then you'll have a lot more success.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 I love the fuzziness around the ears that's really got these visuals.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Yeah. So we can speak to the reasons why they bought it and speak to the pain that we can remove and solve and speak to, as I mentioned earlier, the benefits that they'll reap in spades when they complete the course and the consequences of not doing it, which can be a little bit of tough love sometimes, then your success rate will increase.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Now, do you advocate a live component to the program at all?
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Yeah. I mean, I do. It's very attractive for your students where you say, if you sign up to this program, we will meet Live once a week for the next six weeks. And that's where you have what we call open car, closed cart. If you've got an evergreen course that people can buy all day, every day, any time of the day, twenty-four, seven, the cart is always open, then it's harder to do that live element and schedule it. 

So what a lot of people do is they launch the same course every month, every quarter, even some people once a year. And they know when the launch is happening. And therefore, as part of their marketing, as part of their offer, as part of their sales and marketing and messaging, they can say the course starts on the 1 July and it's X dollars. When you sign up, we will meet for the first six weeks in a group coaching scenario. That's very attractive, what can only be done, or I've only seen it done and I've only done it where you know the dates if that makes sense. Because if the course is always open for people to buy you're on a different schedule to them if that makes sense.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Yeah, very much though.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 So live is always in an online world and the offline world as well in online courses, getting people to show up and hold them accountable will help your success. And it is quite attractive whether they show up for all the meetings or show up at all. It's still quite attractive because there's also an element of meeting you live in a group scenario via zoom or whatever platform it is. There's a community aspect to it. There's also kind of a sense of fear of missing out and what will they be talking about. And I don't want to miss out on that either. So there's a whole list of advantages of including a live element to it. Yes.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 A couple of things that you mentioned. Number one is platforms. Let's talk a little bit about platforms. There are emptying platforms out there that you can use. In fact, I just got a message from one of my authors today to make a recommendation of platforms to use. What do you suggest?
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 They say that there's five to 600 different learning management system options out there. So that's just huge. So you have a handful that most people would know some of. So you have Kajabi think if New Zendler is a new kid on the block, that's capturing the market, teachable experience by just so many. And I suppose in a lot of cases the best one is the one you just go and use from the point of view that most of them do most of what you'll need, if not all, at least to get up and running. And if you believe that you have some specific requirements, then I would advise you to look at three or four of them and even reach out to them and say, does it do this, does it do that? And sometimes we just don't know enough to know what we don't know to ask. However, the main ones, as I've listed, are quite popular. 

Your listeners might say, oh, what about X? What about Y? If you've used it and it does what it says on the tin and it's working for you, then continue to use it. However, some of them do have a few nice additions. For example, I love the ones that actually automatically send an email to your students when they finish the section of the course, which is the end of a lesson within a section. And the reason I like that is it's back to your point of, oh, we get excited, we buy a course and we don't finish it. But if we do some of this and we get a nice congratulatory message to say well done, keep going, or whatever, like good encouraging words, this is what we're going to cover in the next section. Even a badge or whatever. I like those ones. 

Not all of them have that that I have used at least. So I like the ones that have that. Whether you're going to use Quizzes or plug it into your email marketing, does it handle tax internationally, a couple of key things like that. Most of them, to be honest, do all of that because they know what they need to do to be competitive. And then the extra things that they do. Are these companies trying to be a little bit different? You just got to see, is it worth the cost if they charge more? Or is it something that you'll ever use or is it just a bell and a whistle that sounds good, but in reality probably never use it.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Say the name of the new kid on the Block. Again, I didn't get that one.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Zendler. Zenler. The website's. New Zendler. Over the years, people that I've coached and I check in with them and they're like, how are you getting on with creating your course? And they say to me, I'm still researching the best learning management system. And I said, well, if I may say, you've been doing that for six months or twelve months or whatever. Are you using it as a form of procrastination? 

Are you actually creating a course about learning management systems and that's why you're looking at them all, or you're just using it as a way to avoid making the course? And in some cases, people are looking for a learning management system that would create the course for them, and they don't exist either. As I say, bite the bullish. If you've been months and years procrastinating or researching learning management systems, unless you want to become an expert in the mall, just pick one. 

And I think the ones that I've mentioned, and there's possibly some others that are coming to mind, they are the good ones, they're affordable. You can start for free to take a little commission, you can move to zero commission with a different monthly plan. And as I say, a lot of them do similar things they need to in order to be competitive.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Very much so, yeah. So thank you. I was also looking for that one that did the course for me.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Yeah, well, if you find it, will you send it over to me as well? I know you put me out of a job.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 I will. I wouldn't want to do that. Johnny let's look at one big common mistake that you find that anybody making courses does make.
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 We definitely touched on it. As educators and subject matter experts, we want to throw the kitchen sink at it. We believe the bigger the course, the more we can charge and the more valuable it will be and the more grateful our students will be. And the opposite is true. Rarely do people wake up in the morning and jump out of bed and go, I think I'm going to buy an eight-hour course today. If you could teach them something in five minutes, they'll probably pay you more for it. 

So, it's not about the size of the course, as I just say, it's not about the information, it's the transformation. So that's a big mistake, getting overwhelmed then with a massive topic and then just leaving aside or saying to yourself, I'm never going to finish this or I'm never going to make a course. Pick something quite specific that you're passionate about, that there's a real pain in the market, that there's enough people to pay for it and they have the means to pay for it and go after that topic. 

Be patient with yourself. A lot of people go, they say to me, particularly with the first course, to say, johnny, this is taking longer than I thought. And I sometimes ask if the relationship is strong. I say, but what are you comparing it to? You've never created a course before, but you're saying it's taking longer than one now. I know where they're coming from, so I just don't drop the conversation there. But what I'm saying to them is like, if you drive from New York to La, it feels like an eternity. The first time anywhere you go that's new, metaphorically speaking or otherwise feels like it's like a diet or getting fit or god, this is taking longer than I thought. 

Compared to what? You've never done it before? So I would urge people to be patient and not get frustrated with the lack of speed. Now, if it's taken years, then yes, they need help and a framework and accountability and some tough love and a process to follow. But if they're throwing it there because they put on a pair of sneakers some morning and started running and started panting and said, I'm never going to be able to run a marathon, I might as well give up, if they apply that same analogy to their course, they probably will give up. So be patient, think about the end result. Think about I mean, in my nine P framework, each piece of the framework begins with the letter P. Number one is Prepare. 

Prepare yourself to be an online course creator. And really like write down and it just taps into the mindset and stuff we've talked about before. We get a really strong sense of the benefits of not exchanging time for money. And I know money, why you sleep and the passive income and all these terms have been overused and they've kind of lost their meaning. But the reality is that that's the sort of lifestyle that's possible. I'm not saying billionaires and yachts and Lamborghinis and stuff, but you could have an extra 510, 20, $50,000 a month where you do not have to exchange time while your student is learning. 

And that's another mistake. People just jump in and think of the money and the freedom and they haven't really grounded themselves and prepare themselves to be an online course creator. So there's a couple of things that I have seen. I've been a victim of the same mistakes, but thankfully I've learned the hard way, so I can now help people avoid those. So there are a few.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 That's great. And yes, I relate to all of them. It's like all of the above. Which one shall I pick? Yes, Johnny. If our listeners want to, or when our listeners want to get in touch with you, how can they?
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 Yeah, so if they go to Johnnybeirne.com, so it's Johnnybeirne. It doesn't look like Burn, but that's how we pronounce it here in good old Ireland. If they go to that website, my website, they will be able to book a free complimentary, which is the same, or the three, I guess, consultation call just to have a chat about whether creating a course is for them. They may be halfway down the road and think about turning back. 

Just a conversation, just to see if can I help people get started or get unstuck. If they want to ask a little bit more about how I can formally help them, then we can chat about that too. But it's a no-obligation conversation about how they can move forward, essentially with their online course.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 That's great. And I'll put that in the show notes just in case people are not at a point where they can write that down. Johnny, if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
 
 [Johnny Beirne]
 I would definitely say to take it on. It has been a huge, life-changing thing, I guess for me, a business strategy, a tactic, whatever you want to call it, because I don't live full time with my two beautiful children, so I have the freedom to do the school runs and different things without always being under the pressure of having to work day and night. 

And that's my top value. They are my top value. So if people study John Demartini or whatever they want to look up in terms of establishing their values, you will see that having the freedom to prioritize that value just allows us to live a great life of purpose. I would strongly urge people to take it on. You don't have to be an expert; you just have to know something that somebody else would pay to know very much. So, therefore, you are and have the potential to create a great course.
 
 [Susan Friedmann]
 Fabulous. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible wisdom. Listeners. You're going to have to listen to this a few times over just to be able to take in all this great wisdom and the treasures that Johnny shared with us. Thank you. 

And thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview and I sincerely hope that it sparked some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's. Wishing you much book and author marketing success.

Here's how to contact Johnny for more information:
https://johnnybeirne.com