Welcome to the Real Fast Results podcast! Today, you’re going to have the chance to learn about digital assets and the advantages of producing them. The information found herein was first presented by Mark Timberlake, who is an absolute expert when it comes to exploiting this type of aperture in the marketplace. Mark, welcome to the show…
Today we’re promising to help people understand how they can create digital assets that they can actually sell over and over. So, by the end of this, they should have a clear concept of how online training can be packaged as a digital asset, and how a person could then put that outlet in some of the places where you can get some instant income coming in.
Benefits of Creating Digital Assests
In terms of lifestyle, it’s a residual-based income so it’s a dream; it’s living the dream. Me and my wife, we live this dream. We create digital products, and we sell them, and we live off the income. It’s just freedom from employment and service-based work. We escaped employment 15 years ago and started our own business, but we still had a lot of service-based work going on.
We were still dealing with clients, but that’s one step away from working with an employer because you’re still being employed. You’ve just changed your employer, and you can pick and choose your employer a little bit more, but you’re still being employed. However, when you actually create digital content that you can sell, and it’s a digital asset, there is no employer. That’s the real beauty, and it’s exponential in terms of how much that product can actually earn. It’s limited by the amount of people you can get in front of, and it’s limited by the amount of times you can sell that product. That is where it gets really exciting.
A third-party platform is very good when you’re launching cold. Now, if you’ve got a really strong, established audience, I wouldn’t recommend that you go on to these third-party platforms over that, to increase your audience. But, if you’re brand new and you don’t have a list, you’re new to online marketing, you love to teach, and you’ve got a passion about something, these places can give you that really quick launch. Particularly sites like Udemy, which have got really high-quality standards but help you through the process, they can really get you learning how to create courses quickly.
I would recommend looking at third-party courses from instructors like myself. The reason why I say this is because we’re going to teach platform agnosticism, which is really important. While we’re talking about platforms, I just want to mention this principle. We want to create courses that we can put on platforms, but we don’t want to create Udemy courses, we don’t want to create Skillshare courses, and that’s some of the platforms we can put stuff on. We want to create agnostic courses that are primarily our asset, that we can then put into them in an appropriate manner, which will allow us to tap into their marketplace without losing our identity as a business.
Does that make sense? It’s like going into a supermarket. You don’t want to supply the branded product. You don’t want to supply, you know, the Walmart ketchup. You want to supply the Heinz ketchup. You want your brand to be consistent, and that’s one of the key things you need to understand. When you go to these places, the temptation might be to hand over your brand to these places, but what you really want to do is just use the supermarket and put your brand in there, and then people can come back to you.
Udemy likes big mega-courses. Now, Skillshare wants 20-30 minute courses. Let’s look at that practically for a moment. For instance, I’ve just released my online Instructor Masterclass 2016, and there are 16 modules in that course. This is a practical example. On Skillshare, they want small courses, and they’re going to pay me per enrollment. So, I’ve got 16 modules, which are independent courses on Skillshare, and I’ve got one mega-course on Udemy. On Skillshare, I get 16 enrollments for everyone that takes that course, and then on Udemy, I get one big enrollment.
Then, when I put it on my website, which is another thing we’re going to want to do. I encourage people to use a third-party website to start out like Teachable, or something like that, where they take in all of the back-end hosting, you put into your course, and then you can market them as well. So, then I can now put the same course on my website, and then I can upsell. I can have a subscription on there. I can bundle a load of courses.
I might have a monthly Hangout or webinar. For instance, on Zenler, who I’m just switching over to from Teachable. Zenler has a built-in webinar functionality, so you can literally host the webinar inside your school. You can host a free webinar, and literally on the page is the subscriber. So, there is lots of really exciting stuff happening right now. The key is that you want to be able to create the content from the very beginning knowing that this is platform agnostic, this is your content. You need to split it up in different ways for different platforms, but you maintain control.
It becomes really exciting when you start doing that because now you’re developing all of these different income streams in different places. If one falls over and collapses, you’ve got five or six others that are still running and you’re minimizing your risk. That’s the key thing. From the beginning, don’t get tied into one platform.
Different Ways To Use Your Digital Content
There’s a couple of really exciting things potentially happening at the moment. Just whispers and rumors right now, but there’s a whisper that Amazon might get into the online teaching space, selling digital training courses. They’ve already opened up Amazon Video. Now, there’s a whisper that they’re talking about getting into the actual delivery of education. So, in the way that they have embraced Kindle eBooks, they want to embrace training.
LinkedIn also just purchased Lynda.com. This is the grandmother of online training courses. They’ve been doing it the longest. They are the ones that have mastered it, but the way they have always operated is you produce the course and they own the rights. So, for me, they would have to pay me a lot of money to get the rights to my business because I know the exponential value of my product over time. It’s a case of the more eyeballs that go in front of it, the more money I’m going to earn. That’s just simple math with a good-quality online training course.
There’s a whisper that they (Lynda.com) will start opening up the platform so that third-party vendors can upload. Now think about that. That’s Microsoft, essentially, and Amazon are starting to sniff around the online education sector. So, when you create your courses–you’ve got these things, they are like bags of sweets, you can put one bag over here and just a couple of sweets over here, and you can put a big multi-pack of sweets over here. The point is that as the market progresses and grows, you’ve created a digital asset that you can then just drop straight onto these platforms, and that’s where it gets really exciting.
Online education is absolutely massive. It’s one of the VCs. The venture capitalists are all trying desperately to find somewhere they can get involved and spend money on because it’s one of those areas that’s really exploding fast. If people are spending money, that means content creators have a massive opportunity to get into right now while we’re still in the early part. We aren’t even in the boom part. We are in the early part, and there’s a massive opportunity to get in right now and create courses because this is going to boom. It’s a pebble on the beach at the moment. It’s going to be a whole beach soon, and now is the time to get involved. Create high-quality courses that are agnostic, that can go anywhere, and that can earn you this residual income.
3 Steps To Making Digital Courses
I can give you a simple overview of the three things you’re going to need to master. I can give you some quick tips, but the process, in itself, is a learned skill.
Step # 1 Quality of Educational Content
So, #1) Quality of Educational content. Now, where a lot of people fall down, they’ll see an opportunity like this and they’ll think, “Okay, I can just create a quick course, and I can make loads of money.” No. If you want this to be a long-term asset, you’ve got to put the time into it. You’ve got to be thinking, “This could potentially earn me $100,000 over its lifetime.” You’ve got to design from the beginning with that kind of potentiality in the back of your mind. You might only make $100, but you’ve got to approach it like, “This is a significant asset I’m developing here.”
I’ve created courses where I said, “This one’s going to absolutely go crazy,” and it just falls flat. I’ve created over 40 courses now, and there have been some that I didn’t think would do that well, but all of the sudden, it really surprises me. So, #1) Quality of Education. You have to remember that, at the end of the day, that’s what people are actually buying.
Step #2 Quality Production Values
#2) Quality Production Values. That doesn’t mean you have to have a professional studio. You could literally use a slideshow and a mic. You could literally combine a slide show and a good-quality podcast setup, and you can create courses. So, you don’t need lots of money.
I’ve got a green screen studio where I do a lot of talking heads. Whichever level you go to, you’ve got to keep pushing the quality. So, the quality of production is really important.
Step #3 Marketing Excellence
And then there’s #3) Marketing Excellence. You have to learn the basics of online marketing. It’s a skill set that’s absolutely fundamentally required. Although you’re starting out by putting it onto platforms, you do need to understand some key things like SEO. You do need to try and understand how to optimize some text. That sounds really huge, but it isn’t as big as you think. You’ve just got to learn the trade. That’s the key thing. You’ve really got to take time to learn the trade.
Let’s say that you’ve got a very popular podcast. Well, you would have had to learn the trade of podcasting. Yes, everyone can do it, but only the people who have mastered the process will do it well, will do it professionally, and will do it to a high standard. That’s what sets it apart. So, that’s what you’ve got to have–high quality teaching, very high-quality production values, and marketing excellence. When you build an online course creation, digital asset business based on those principles, it’s just a case then of finding the course, or set of courses that are going to start getting that response from the marketplace that you’re looking for.
How to Find a Responsive Niche
The first thing to do, believe it or not, don’t go to niche at the moment. It’s still very early in the marketplace, and the temptation is to do your “DIY Brain Surgery Course”. Bear with me. There’s not very many people in the world that want to practice DIY brain surgery. On the other hand, there’s how to do a Facebook ad. You know, that is so broad. Let me give you another example. You can create a master course on online marketing, but you’ve got to be specific about who you’re trying to reach. What I’m trying to say is don’t go too broad, but don’t go too narrow either.
One of the things to test what’s working is to go on one of the sites and have a look at what’s working. Go on a platform like Udemy and Skillshare. If you want to make big courses, Udemy is #1. Some other places are starting to catch up quickly. But, if you want to do business to consumer, like craft-based courses, hobby-based courses, and lifestyle courses, Skillshare is much better. Once you understand that, and you’ve got the two main, sort of, protagonists in the marketplace, Udemy being business to business, and Skillshare being business to consumer, then have a look at your expertise. Go in there and see what types of courses, in your expertise, are getting the students, they’re trending, they seem to be doing well.
Be honest with yourself. If you look at a course and say, “I can do better than this,” then make a better course. That’s the place to start, but one other thing is when you make your first course, your first course is disposable. You’re going to throw it away. That’s where you learn the art of making a course. You’ll continually learn, but that’s where most of the big lessons are. I’ve seen people do this. Don’t try to create an 18-hour talking-heads master-class because you’re going to film it, you’re going to look at it in six-months time, and you’re going to be embarrassed of it.
The thing to do is to create a small course, maybe with something like Skillshare, just to go through the process of learning. Take some courses on how to plan and how to structure. Just start with a small course. Don’t throw away your best course on your first course. If you’re a master at Facebook advertising, and you can show, “Here’s what I’ve spent. Here’s my return on investment.” Start with how to set up a Facebook group. Don’t give up your best stuff at the beginning because that course won’t be your best. Go and have a look, see what’s working, and don’t fall into the trap of going to niche or too wide, but do a little research and see what’s actually going.
Building Course Material
You’ll want to break up 2-10 minute segments. You know, 2-5 for most subjects, and 10 if it’s technical. You have to learn how to translate Chinese. This is one of the core educational issues that nuance online instructors may not have grasped yet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professor. It doesn’t matter where you come from. When you start speaking to someone, every area of knowledge has its own language. So, if you sit down with someone and start talking to your granny about podcasting, and you start saying, “Yeah, I’m going to be doing this, and I’m going to be using my preamp,” she’s not going to understand what you’re saying. You’re speaking Chinese.
Every area we have expertise on has its own subset of language. English isn’t some sort of homogenous blob. It’s built upon all of these areas of expertise. If you want to do quantum physics, you have to learn a whole new language before you can comprehend that. That’s the core thing to understand. When you’re teaching someone, you have to translate Chinese. That’s what the best instructors do. They take a complex subject, which is complete Chinese to someone else, and they translate that into language so that the layman can understand.
It’s not about being the smartest or the most knowledgeable; it’s being the best translator. If you can explain a simple concept to them, that’s simple to you, but complex to them, better than everybody else, people will pay you money to solve their problems. Become the translator. Become the one that’s best at translating Chinese, and that’s what’s going to give you long-term value in your product.
Recap: Steps To Making Digital Courses
The “Golden Triangle” of course creation is high-quality educational content, #1. You want to solve people’s pain points and problems. You want to be doing that better than anyone else. You want to be translating that Chinese. #2) You want high production values. No matter what level you are, you want to take the time to do the editing and remove all the “ums and ahs” so that you have really good quality. Invest in that process. #3) Marketing excellence. Learn how to market yourself, learn what’s going to work, and learn how to place your product.
And, just understand that these third-party platforms are going to do some marketing for you, and that’s why we’re using them at the beginning. A beginning instructor, usually the worst skill they’ve got is marketing. That’s the thing they least understand, but that’s where the leg up on these platforms are going to be. You’re going to have some stabilizers on your bike. They are going to supply the stabilizers, and they are going to get you going, but you don’t want to stay on stabilizers forever. You want to be platform agnostic, and eventually, you want that audience that you’re building on your website, on your property. I think those are the core things to know.
Third-Party Platforms Suggestions
If you go to my website, SMEHeroes.co.uk, you’ll find a platform guide. It’s a resource that we keep up to date, and it shows all of the latest places and some of the things that you need to be aware of. On that, we’ve got Udemy, Skillshare, StackSkills… There’s lots of information on there that is current and up to date. It’s a great resource for someone trying to figure out where to put their courses. For instance, if you have courses on programming, you may not want to put them on Skillshare, necessarily, but there are other third-party sites that specialize in those types of things.
There are also sites to avoid. For example, there are some sites that won’t pay you. They’ve been identified too. There are also some third-party hosting platforms. These are places you can put your courses and sell them. Go to SMEHeroes.co.uk, and go to the “Platform Guide“. It’s linked at the top, and you’re going to see lots of different places where you can sell. If you want to connect with me, you can find me on all of the social platforms from there.
Mark’s Platform Guide
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