Lesson 5 - Grow your audience with a free mini course
Lesson 5 To Do
Now that we know what audience we want to focus on, it's time to see if we can engage that audience. The best way to do this is by quickly releasing a free course.
This video is going to walk you step by step through:
1. Quickly create a valuable piece of content.
2. Create a place online where you offer that content for free (we'll use Fedora as an example, but you can use whatever you'd like).
3. Creatively bring people to that page to sign up.
In the below discussion area, drop any questions if you're getting stuck.
my recent post on the Fedora blog where I go into a case study from a PCI beta student the Startup Sales Bootcamp who went to over 1,000 sign ups with this approach.
When you're done, feel free to link to your free offer in the discussion as well. We have 1,000 folks in the class, so who knows, you might get your first free sign-ups and some feedback.
Lesson 5 Step-by-Step
1. Quickly put together one valuable piece of content
Whatever method you decide on, once you have your page up, you're now going to pick an offer and give this away on the page for free.
The reason it's important to start with something free is you want to build a relationship with your audience first, before selling to them (more on this in the next lesson).
The free course should be enough to get someone to take an action and achieve a result, even if it's a small result. This doesn't mean it has to be a lot of content, less content can sometimes even be better given it takes less time for someone to go through, making it more likely you get someone to actually take action.
This gives you enough to start getting case studies, and make someone who signs up think "wow, this free course is awesome" helping you build relationships with signups and make your free course more likely to get picked up and featured.
A couple ideas that you can mix and match:
- 2-3 free videos how to X
- 2-3 PDF e-book
- Training Manual
Using the painful points we found of:
- "Do I need a website What's the best way to create a great looking site if I can't afford a programmer?"
- "Are there any legal issues with posting types of photography?"
- "How can I keep my photography private?"
- "How do I create and show off a portfolio?"
- "So in a portfolio do you need a resume?"
Using these painful problems, I came up with these lecture names that each speak to handling the problems:
For our photography example offer, I chose to put together 3 lessons to handle the question of "How to create a great looking photography websites" that I could set up as video or even text.
I chose the keywords "Create an Amazing Portfolio Website" specifically, because these are the words I found a people searching for using Google Keyword Tool (which is free to use if you create a free advertising account with Google) to get this:
If you need more on developing a unique and valuable piece of content for your audience, download the Content Worksheet attached to this lecture.
2. Create a place online for your free offer (in exchange for an email address)
There are a ton of ways to create a place to collect emails and create a great experience for new students. If you already have your own system that you're efficient with, great. Stick with it.
Otherwise, I'd strongly suggest trying Fedora to create your page. You can create an account at this link that's completely free.
As a disclaimer, I am the Co-Founder at Fedora. I'd obviously like you to use it. That said, we've made the software free to use for a reason–right now I do believe, it's the best product available to create online courses today.
For our purposes Fedora allows you to create a site that:
1. Looks great and is easy to set up.
2. Doesn't cost you anything (Fedora is free to use).
3. Gives you complete control over your data.
By making our product free, we believe that some day, you will be successful (profitable) or will refer someone who will be profitable to us. I hope you take that to heart!
Once you get started, you'll see why using Fedora I think you'll see why. Either way, here's a version of how I'd like our photography site example to look:
In the video I walk through creating the above page itself in about 10 minutes.
If you have specific questions related to Fedora, our team watches every email coming through [email protected] If you send something through, me or someone else the team, will have you covered.
3. Creatively bring people to your site to test your free offer
There are many ways to actually bring people to our site.
Thinking about opportunities, I went out and found a related question in the Quora community.
What I could do is answer this question in a high-quality way, and link back to my site. Here's the exact search on Quora to find this question and answer:
Woah. It looks like this question has had 951 views. Also, the most upvoted answer mentions technical topics like “HTML" and “keyword rich."
We know from our earlier research that our wannabe photographer audience wasn't super internet savvy, so they probably wouldn't be familiar with HTML, or have enough spare time to create their own site. I'm also assuming they probably don't want to go into the details of code to create their website, and wish there were a better solution.
This is a perfect opportunity to now provide a DETAILED answer to the question that you know a solution to. You want to create an answer that "wows" someone when they see it, and at the end of the answer you can link back to your site, which provides an even better offer.
Now the next 1,000 people who land on this Quora page (there are already 951 views here) are likely to see your very useful post, make additional comments to it, upvote it, all while bringing people back to your site and onto your free offer.
This email address will be invaluable as a way to build relationships and keep in touch with sign ups.
The reason behind creating a free offer for an email is this: Your email list is the only point of communication YOU own with your future potential customers. At any time, an email gives you permission to contact them and eventually sell to them.
So instead of getting caught up by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest (add your social network of choice) followers, do whatever you can to grow your email list.
I can't think of a single course creator who doesn't believe it's the center of their business.
It's now time to go out and do this a few times until you have 200-500 people in your free course.
If you want more information about the full process of going from identifying a "wow" piece of content, to creating a place for it and bringing traffic to is, check out this recent case study from a Profitable Course Idea student Juliana Crispo.
If you have any questions or are stuck along the way, drop your question below!