How I Built a Digital Course Business That Makes $20K Per Month
Packaging up my knowledge and creating a digital course was one of the best decisions I've ever made--financially, lifestyle-wise, and just in terms of general impact. In this video I'm going to walk you through the exact process that I took to create and sell my digital course, which opened its doors to a nice $60k launch and now makes an average of about $20k each and every month. If you're new here, my name is Rachel Harrison-Sund and I help online entrepreneurs make more money so they can live more life. If that sounds like you,
then please hit the "subscribe" button and hit the bell so you can be notified every time I put out one of these videos, every single Monday. The whole point of creating a digital course is so that you can create one asset that you can leverage for years to come. This course can be an offer in and of itself--this can be your main offer--or it can be a complement to some of the products or services that you already offer. There are many ways to build and launch a course, but I focused on audience-building, organic marketing, and launching with live webinars. Again,
there's more than one way to do this whole process, but this is what worked for me. The first thing I did was I decided on my niche. I kind of already had this in mind. I had learned how to create and sell journals and planners and notebooks and more on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. If you've been watching my channel for a while, I'm sure you've heard me say that a million times by now, but that's what I was doing before my digital course business. I had enough people asking me how to do it that I decided, "Hey, this is a business in and of itself." So that was my niche.
If you were starting completely from scratch--meaning you've got no blog, you've got no website, you don't have an audience yet--you're going to have to figure out what that broad niche is. You don't have to have your course topic picked out just yet, but you've got to have that broad field of interest that you've decided that you've got some value to offer. Remember, you don't have to be an expert in whatever this topic of interest is. You just need to know a little bit more than the average person. If you know a little bit more than everyone else out there, you have got some value to offer.
If you're a little bit iffy right now and you don't exactly know what your niche is I want you to go down to the description below and click on the free download button there that links to a PDF worksheet called "What's Your Thing?". This is a resource from my personal online mentor, Amy Porterfield. She has put this together for you so that you can go ahead and download it and figure out exactly what your niche is so that you can start making an impact and start generating some revenue. Please go ahead and download that if you're a little bit stuck on this very first step. Now, while we're on the subject of Amy Porterfield,
this actually ties into the very next step I took: to purchase one of her programs called Digital Course Academy. I didn't even have a website yet. I didn't have a YouTube channel. I didn't have any business at all, but I knew that I wanted to create a digital course. I'd been following Amy for quite a while by that point and I knew her content was amazing, so I went ahead and made the investment and purchased Digital Course Academy.
That's basically what I followed all the way through to create and finally launch my course. Before I dove straight into Digital Course Academy, I started to begin to build an audience. The very first step I took there was to create a lead magnet. Again, I don't have a website yet. I don't have a YouTube channel yet. I've got nothing, but I knew that when I launched both my blog and my YouTube channel and started bringing in an audience, I wanted a way to capture leads right from the get-go.
Most of you already know what a lead magnet is, but it's basically a freebie. It could be a PDF. It could be an audio file. It could be a video file. Something of value that your audience will appreciate getting for free that they can download and, of course, in exchange for that download you then receive their email address. Now you have their email address on your email list.
We all know--and if you don't know, you should know--that building an email list is probably the most important thing that you need to start doing right from the get-go in your business. So that's what I did first. I created my lead magnet. As soon as I had my lead magnet done, I created about three different blog posts. Still didn't have a website, but I wanted to make sure that when I did launch my website, I least had three pieces of content that I could put up there right away. People probably weren't going to land on my website immediately, but I just figured if anyone did, it would probably be better if I had more than one piece of content, so I went ahead and I wrote probably I think about three blog posts. Once I had those three blog posts, then I finally slapped together a website and I launched my YouTube channel.
I just went straight to Word... What is it? ThemeForest, I think... I downloaded a WordPress template. I slapped that up probably over the course of about four hours. You can still see that website. It's still the original one that I've initially launched with.
I've swapped out a few of the photographs, but I haven't updated it since, but it was very easy. So I got my website up and then I got my YouTube channel going as well. Once my blog and my YouTube channel were up and running, I started creating consistent weekly content. I'm a few years in now and I haven't really deviated from that schedule.
I batch all of my content over the course of about one week; so that's four pieces of content in a week. And then I just drip that out one-by-one each week until the following month. This content creation--creating content consistently like this week by week--this is probably the best organic marketing method that exists out there. The entire point of this is you're trying to build that audience and ultimately build that email list so that when my course was ready, months down the line, I already had an audience who was on my email list. If you want to learn how to generate $20,000 a month as a content creator, please go ahead and check out this video right here. For you, if you're just starting out, you're going to want to choose a medium and you're going to want to choose a platform. For me, it's YouTube videos on YouTube. For you,
maybe it's written blog posts on a blog, or maybe it's podcasts. You have to kind of get in the mind of who you think you're creating this content for and figure out what are the best chances of them finding you? What's that content that you're creating and what is the best way for that content to be consumed. If it's video form, YouTube. If it's written, maybe it's a blog post. If it's audio, then a podcast. Just think about your audience and think about what makes the most sense for them.
Once I had my audience kind of building in the background with my weekly content creation, that is when I opened up Digital Course Academy and got cracking on that course. One of the first things I did there was to define my ideal customer avatar. I was just trying to get a good sense of who I was actually creating this course for. Demographics are important, but psychographics are even more important, so you've got more to think about. What are their values, what kinds of help do they need? Where are they on their journey? All of those types of things will help inform what you put in your course further down the line. You're not going to know exactly who these people are just yet, but kind of take your best guess and you'll be able to fill in the gaps as you go, as you build your audience and start interacting with them more and more.
The next thing was that I named and priced my course. I thought of an enticing name that would tell people basically exactly what was inside the course and then I came up with the price. The price can be kind of difficult, but really you've got to think about what is the total value that your course is going to provide for your students? What would they be willing to pay to have whatever problem it is that you're solving... if that were to suddenly just go away. Try and think about it from those terms.
If you want some more help with pricing, you can check out this video right here. The next thing I did was I scheduled all of my launch dates. I decided what was the date that I wanted this thing to go live and then I created a work-back schedule just in terms of actually building the course: writing the scripts, shooting it, everything involved. This doesn't have to be set in stone and it's a good thing it doesn't, because I had to shift my dates probably three or four times. Originally I had wanted to have the entire course finished and launched within a 12-week period. It actually took nine months. That's totally fine.
You can shift the dates if you want, but the whole idea here is that putting it in the calendar really does make it real. Deadlines really help to keep you focused and moving forward. I think that's the main takeaway from mapping out your entire launch plan with dates is to just keep yourself focused and moving forward. Just remember they're not set in stone. You can move them if you have to. The next thing I did was I validated my course idea. I'd come up with my course topic. I'd done all this legwork. Now I needed to find out if this is actually a really good idea or not.
So what I did was I set up zoom calls with members of my audience. I had a few people on my email list by this point. I reached out to them and I just asked them, "Hey, can you get on a 20-minute zoom call with me?", and I just got some information from them. I asked them where were they on their journey for low-content publishing, what specific areas did they need the most help with? This really helped me to determine what the information was that I should include. It just validated that this was a good idea and people would be interested in this program. If you need some help validating your idea for whatever it is, you can check out this video right here, and that will be helpful.
Another way you can validate your idea is to pre-sell your course. You're basically just putting it out there saying, "Hey, this is a course I'm interested in making," and attaching a price tag to it, usually at half-price or whatever you want to do. You wouldn't want to offer it at the full price, but if people are willing to pay for it before the course has even been created, there's no bigger validation than that exchange of money for whatever your idea is. That is something that I'll probably experiment with next time. I didn't do it this time, but I definitely think I'll try it out for the next go. The next step was I outlined my course. I just did kind of a general outline, and to get that I kind of just thought about what are the results that my students want to get out of this course and what exact information do they need in order to get that result. From there,
I kind of just laid out a step-by-step process. I had my general outline. Then I filled it all in; basically just created all of the scripts. All of the information was there. I created decks in PowerPoint and then that part of the course was basically finished. The next thing I did was I wrote all the copy out for my sales page, and then after that I created my webinar presentation.
My webinar was a bunch of valuable free content and then, probably about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through, that's when I introduced my sales pitch. Once that was done I got down to writing all of my email sequences. There were a ton of emails that I wrote and I kind of wrote them all in one go over the course of a few days. I had email invitations to my webinar. I had a post-webinar sequence that I would send people who attended my webinar, but did not purchase the course on the webinar. I also created a series of new customer onboarding emails as well.
After the emails were done, that is when I got into my closet and grabbed my Blue Yeti Nano microphone and recorded all of my course. I was stuck in my closet probably for at least an entire week. It just had the best sound in the house. Super-uncomfortable,
but worth it in the end, I think. As each module was finished, I would send that to a small group of beta testers that I had. I had, I think, about six or seven beta testers. Like I just said, every time I had finished recording a module, I would send that to the beta testers. They would go through it and then give me any feedback and I could make any tweaks if I needed to. One thing I will say about the beta testers, it's really a good idea to--and I think this is what I would do next time--is I would roll it into my pre-sell strategy.
What I found was that with the beta testers who were taking the course for free, because they didn't have any skin in the game, so to speak, didn't always follow through. Out of those six or seven beta testers that I had, I think maybe only about four of them actually completed the entire course. I think this would've been prevented if I had instead rolled this into a pre-sell strategy so they'd actually paid to be beta testers.
That's just something to think about for yourself. Next, really the only thing left to do is to set up all of the tech. I set up my sales pages. I set up the course platform.
I use Kajabi and I've been really impressed with that so far. I use Demio for my webinars. I like that as well. Deadline Funnel. I set up a payment gateway: I use Stripe and I use PayPal. There's probably a couple of other ones that I'm missing, but it was a lot of tech to set up. Most of it,
I kind of just did all in one shot. Once that was all set up, that's it. I just hit send on those initial webinar invitation emails and I did my live launch. The entire strategy for my live launch was to send out webinar invitations to my email list, and I also posted it in my Facebook groups and on my Instagram. Those people who were interested would attend my webinar. Some of them purchased the course on the webinar. The ones who didn't were sent follow up emails to encourage them to purchase.
Some of those did, some of those did not. Once they were inside my course then they got the follow up emails. Even people who registered for my webinar but just didn't attend got a follow up set of emails as well. That way I was able to get even more sales, even from people that didn't even attend my webinar, so that's something that really worked for me as well.
One thing I will say is that live webinars, if you've never done them before, can be extremely scary, especially if you're an introvert or someone that generally doesn't enjoy being in the spotlight or doesn't enjoy public speaking. This was actually really, really difficult for me. Leading up to that first live launch, I honestly was a total mess, but it was well worth it in the end. Now that I've done it a few times, even though I still get nervous to do live webinars, I definitely feel a lot more confident now that I've been able to pull it off a couple of times. The next thing I did was a post-launch debrief. This is where I looked at all the facts and figures. I looked at what worked and what didn't work.
How many people did I send these invitations to? How many people attended the webinar? What was my conversion rate? These were all really important things to know moving forward into the next launch so I could tweak anything that really wasn't working very well or double down on the things that were. If you're doing a launch yourself it's very important afterwards to have that debrief. Go over all the facts and figures and figure out what worked and what didn't so that you can learn those lessons and bring them with you into the next launch. Finally, after people were in my course, I followed up with a post-launch nurture sequence.
I wanted to make sure that this wasn't just a transactional relationship. I wanted to follow up with my students, see how they were doing, get some feedback, and just kind of keep building on that relationship, which I think is really important. Since that first launch back in 2019, I've made I think three updates to the course. Generally I do an update each year, just so I can stay current with what's going on in the whole KDP world as well as incorporate any of the feedback that I get from my students, which has ended up making the course better and better over time. It's always important to keep improving and iterate.
I'm no longer doing the live launches. I did two live launches for that course. And then--I believe it was in 2021--I put my course on evergreen. Before, people had to wait until I did the live launch; now people can gain access to the course any time of year. My sales page is up and running. My, my webinar is prerecorded now. So people can attend that webinar anytime they want. And it just kind of runs in the background, which is really, really awesome.
All in all, I think the biggest factors in my success were that I created something that real people actually wanted. I went to the trouble to validate my course topic. I think validation is one of the biggest contributing factors in the success of any course--you really have to determine if real people are really going to be interested in whatever it is you have to offer. Next, I was offering valuable free content so people were already getting to know me online. They found me on YouTube. I had lots of free content there so people already knew my teaching style. They knew the value that I had to offer, and it really helped contribute to that know-, like-, and trust factor; not just creating the content, but creating on a consistent basis and forming relationships with members of my audience.
I had a couple of Facebook groups going and I was able to interact one-on-one with people in those groups and figure out exactly what it is they needed help with and I was able to incorporate that into my course. Another factor: I had an email list. I was building up this audience and I was getting people onto my email list so when I finally did have that course ready to offer, I had a group of people already on my email list that I could actually promote the course to. Another factor: I invested in myself. I took a chance on Amy's Digital Course Academy, which was a pretty big investment at the time. I don't think I'd ever paid--I
think it was probably a couple of thousand dollars when it was converted into Canadian dollars, which, you know, that's a fair-sized investment. But I knew I'd been following Amy for probably a couple of years. I knew the quality of her content, so I was pretty sure it was going to be a high-quality program. It really was, and honestly, I wouldn't have been able to do all of this without Amy's course, or if I did, it probably would've taken me 10 times longer and I probably would've gotten 10 times less results if I had just tried to figure it all out on my own.
So was it tons of work? Yes, absolutely. But it was definitely well worth it. If you're about to embark on this project for yourself, if you can get a little bit of help, go ahead and do that if it's within your means to do so. I did do all of this completely on my own the first time, and it was a ton of work. The second time around,
I had some funds to play with and I did hire an assistant to help me with some of the stuff which was really great to get some of that off my plate. If you can get a little bit of help to begin with, do that; if not, don't worry, you've got it, and just get some help next time. If you have some special skill or talent or abilities or knowledge that you can package up into a digital course and offer it to the world, do so. Don't deprive the world of the value that you have to offer! And no matter the outcome, congratulate yourself on the effort. This is big project to undertake and you may or may not get the results that you're after at first. That's okay,
because it's all a learning experiment and you're doing it for the first time, so whatever the result you definitely deserve to congratulate yourself for your efforts. You can always iterate and improve over time. And like I mentioned at the top, if you're still struggling a little bit with what your course topic could be, then go ahead and download Amy's free guide that she's put together for you, the worksheet "What's Your Thing" that's going to help you really zero in on what your different, unique skills and abilities are that you have to offer and hopefully monetize and create an impact in the world. You can also join my free Facebook group, Rachel Sandbox. This is a growing community of like-minded online business entrepreneurs. The link to that is down in the description below as well. And check out this video next right here if you want to learn how to make 20,000 plus dollars a month as a content creator. Thanks again for watching,
and if you like this video, please hit the "like" button. Don't forget to subscribe and I will see you next week. Thanks.