Do you know what the sole purpose of your website should be?
In my opinion, assuming that your site is not a full-blown ecommerce site, the main aim of your site is to generate leads. And, that means getting email subscribers.
In fact, I don’t think it matters whether visitors spend time on your site and consume your content if they don’t become a known lead.
Because without their email address you don’t know who they were or what they wanted or why they stopped by. So everything you do on your site should be done with an aim to get the lead so you can to market to them.
Why Should You Make A Course?
It’s a fact: You know stuff.
Whether you’re a carpenter, a boat builder, a mechanic – you do that professionally which means you know how to do something rather well, right?
Well, people want to know how to do what you’re good at. So teach them!
Share your knowledge!
This is the best way to position yourself as the ‘expert’ – the ‘go to guy’ or ‘gal’. It’s a great way to establish credibility and trust. And when people see you as an expert that they trust, they buy from you. Simple as that.
If you put yourself out there and show people how to do the things you’re good at, they’ll see you as an expert.
What’s more, once prospects have subscribed to your course, you can keep building your credibility by showing them to do other things. The more up the ladder you establish yourself as ‘the expert’, and the more people trust you in that area, the more you can charge.
That’s a rather nice upside, right? 😉
Free Or Premium?
Generally, you should have two versions of a course.
- One should be a ‘free version’ that covers the basics.
- The other should be a premium version – a more enhanced version that you can charge for and that goes into more depth.
There are ‘levels of in between’ that are meant to ‘nurture’ prospects into customers. But in this article, we’ll talk about how you can create a free course to get email subscribers (your web site’s ultimate goal).
Offering a high quality course for free will get you results fast.
In our Five Ps of Modern Marketing, the third P is Permission: We want to get people’s permission to market to them.
So how do you get permission?
That’s where ‘lead magnets’ come in. Offer something of value, something that your prospects would be willing to pay for. Give it to them for free in exchange for their name and email address (and in fact, some marketers might even go so far as insisting that only an email address is enough).
Now here’s the thing…
Some people will do your free course and still want someone else to do it for them. That’s where your services come in!
So now you’ve got two potential avenues of income, all stemming from one free course:
- A premium, more in-depth course about the things your subscribers want to know more about
- Your services, for those of your subscribers who would prefer the ‘done for them’ version
But I’m Not A Teacher! My Writing Skills Are Terrible!
Woah, there, tiger! Listen. Have you ever employed anyone? Did you show them how to do something related to your expertise?
OK, let’s forget about teaching full stop.
Have you learned anything about your area of expertise? Of course, you have! Otherwise, you wouldn’t be a professional, right?
So don’t worry so much about whether you’re a good teacher or not. The aim is that you demonstrate or somehow convey to your prospects what you’ve learned.
If you’re freaking out right now, thinking that you have poor grammar or spelling, don’t worry! You can offer your course in different formats. It doesn’t necessarily need to be written. You can offer an audio or video version, for example.
If you’ve come over all shy, remember that you can just write your course in text format, do an audio or even do a powerpoint presentation as a video and speak over it. Or outsource the voiceover.
No need to show your face. And if you think you’ll freeze up, then write out some interview questions and ask a friend to ask you the questions as a form of an ‘interview’ style.
If you do need to write but really are hesitant about releasing it to the public you can hire an editor or proof-reader for as little as $5 dollars. Yes. Only five dollars. Just do a search for ‘Editors’ on Fiverr and see.
So there are ways around everything. Don’t worry so much about the ‘how’. Let’s think about the ‘what’…
What Should Your Course Be About?
What do you know about? What’s your area of expertise?
These are the types of questions that you should brainstorm the answers to. You know a lot about something. You just need to figure out what that ‘something’ is.
Say you’re a cleaner and you want more email subscribers so that you can turn them into customers. Demonstrate your expertise! People want to know how to clean difficult stuff. So show them! For example:
- How to clean the limescale out of a toilet bowl
- How to clean and deodorize a fridge
- How to get the smell out of a wardrobe
- How to choose the best washing machine, carpet washer, and so forth
Maybe even do product reviews of your favorites. Do an actual demonstration, showing subscribers exactly how to use it.
There may be things you can think of that people might want to know that you don’t know yourself. That’s fine. That’s what’s Google’s there for. Just look it up! 😉
For ideas, brainstorm the following:
- What do you know about in your field of expertise?
- What does your ideal customer want to know about?
- What do your customers ask you time and time again?
- What sells the best?
- If it sells well then whatever ‘it’ provides the solution to, is probably something people want to know about.
- Use your keyword research for course topic ideas too.
- See what other people are offering.
See if there’s anything that you could teach in your own course (with your own personal spin on it of course).
And if that’s not enough, here are a couple of free courses as examples:
Note: not only are these good examples of lead magnets, the actual course material is good so sign up and see what they send you.
How Will You Structure And Deliver Your Course?
Exercise time! Grab your pen and paper and let’s start brainstorming:
- Have you learned anything new in the past two years?
- Maybe you’ve been on a course? Online? College?
- Listened to podcasts?
- Been on email lists related to your area of expertize?
How were these delivered? List the formats they were in:
- Short videos of them talking or demonstrating something?
- Membership site?
- Audio MP3 files
- Face-to-face course in an actual classroom
- Voice over powerpoint videos?
How long was each one? For example:
- Two minute, thirty, hour-long video
- Hour-long face-to-face course in an actual classroom
- 145 page ebook
- Short 3 paragraph emails that link to an article on a web site
See where we’re going here? If you’ve been following along, you’re essentially putting together a list of the training and learning that you’ve taken.
I’ve already mentioned a few of different formats in which your course can be in. Here’s a more in-depth list of more formats:
- Powerpoint recording with you narrating over it
- Screen recording of your computer
- You talking to the camera and demonstrating
- Powerpoint slide handouts
- Email course
- Downloadable report (pdf is best)
- A report
- A white paper
- An audio recording
You can also choose the method in which you’d like to ‘deliver’ your course and the length. I recommend a 7-day course, drip fed, one lesson per day or every other day (I wouldn’t recommend any longer, e.g. one lesson per week, as you would lose the momentum).
Content can be delivered via:
- A post or page on your web site
- If your lessons are in video format, I recommend hosting videos on YouTube and pasting the simple ’embed code’ they provide into your post on your web site.
- A free membership site
- Inside the email themselves
And what about the length?
- They can be short bursts – just two to ten minutes long.
- They could be longer, say an hour long (although if it’s that long, I’d recommend that you save that for the paid version of your course).
So, now you’re armed to decide which learning style you like best.
Make that the format and style for your first free course!
Assure Them That You Won’t Be Annoying
Let’s face it, many people are hesitant to had over their email address. Even if you’re offering the crown jewels on a platter… it’s free so what’s the catch?
Are you going to be blasting them with emails several times a day?
Are you going to be doing the ‘hard sell’ every time they hear from you?
Are you going to go sell their name and email address to the highest bidder?
Oh and by the way, in case you’re wondering what we recommend in answer to these questions, the answer should be a resounding, no!
But back to the point I’m trying to make…
You will want to make them offers eventually. But just not right at the start. The purpose at the start is to let them get to know and trust you. But you do want to set the scene so they know what to expect.
So when you market your free course, make sure tell your prospects that you’ll be emailing them more information in addition to the course.
Make sure you also assure them that you won’t be spamming them or annoying them and that you’ll keep their information private.
This is really important!
In fact, many split tests over the years by thousands of marketers, show that having a small ‘We value your privacy and won’t spam you’ -type message will increase the the likelihood that prospects will subscribe.
Below you’ll see an example. It’s simple and unobtrusive but people see it and take note. And it definitely affects many peoples’ decision as to whether they’ll take action or not.
You may also wish to emphasis that they can unsubscribe any time they wish.
That brings me to how you should deliver your the email notifications for your course…
Use A Proper Email Autoresponder Service
Never use your own personal email software to deliver your automated emails. It’s just not a good idea.
Instead, make sure you use a proper email autoresponder service.
There are many reasons why you should do this but three main reasons are:
It automates the email marketing process for you…
An email autoresponder service lets you load up ‘evergreen’ emails and then sends them out at set intervals (that you set). So every prospect will always get say, email 1 on day one, and email 2 on day 4, and email 3 on day 10 and so on.
No matter when they sign up. In a nutshell, it’s an automated marketing machine that works even while you’re sleeping.
It automates the ‘unsubscribe’ process for you…
Unsubscribe links are automatically included at the bottom of each automated email that goes out. That means that your subscriber can unsubscribe with just one click of a button.
That frees up your time. Who wants to waste time removing people who don’t want to hear from you anymore?
The automated ‘unsubscribe’ process reduces spam complaints…
The other benefit is that you’ll get less ‘spam’ complaints. If people have an easy way to unsubscribe, they’ll be less likely to press the ‘mark as spam’ button.
Gmail, Hotmail and the other free webmail providers monitor those ‘spam’ complaints closely.
Go over their limit and all of a sudden you’ll find that very little or even none of your emails get through to your prospects. They’ll be directed straight to their spam box.
And then you’ll really be in trouble. How can you put your message in front of your prospects if they never see your emails?
So make it easier on yourself and your business and just shell out the extra cash for a good email autoresponder service. If there’s one thing you should regard as ‘crucial’ in your business it’s that.
It will become the life-blood of your online marketing, so don’t hesitate to dedicate some of your financial resources to this kind of service.
Be careful though!
Not all email autoresponder services are equal. You get what you pay for, especially in terms of functionality and email deliverability, so don’t opt for the cheapest. We recommend Aweber.
The Aim Of Your Emails
The aim of your emails should always be to get them to your website to consume your course content, whatever form that will be. This is essentially because you want to to ‘train’ your prospect to get used to actively visiting your site.
Any active action on their part reinforces your brand as the ‘go-to’ brand in their minds eye, and that is always a good thing.
Wow, that was a long article!
Hopefully, I’ll have moved you to give some serious thought to offering a free course as a way to capture your visitor’s email details.
It’s really time to rethink the whole purpose of your website. Get out of the mindset of trying to sell to your prospect as soon as they first visit your site.
Think of their first visit as a first date.
Would you ask someone to marry you on the first date?
No! You’d want to get to know them first, right?
Well the same thing applies here. Asking them to marry you straight away is equal to you trying to sell to them on first contact. It’s likely that it just won’t happen.
Instead, let them get to know how knowledgeable and helpful you are by providing them with stellar content via this free course of yours.
Give them great information so that when they do need something in the future, the first person they think of is you.
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