The Step By Step Guide to Monetizing Your Blog With Courses: by Teachable!

Today’s post is brought to you by Ashley Hockney, Content Marketer & Writer for our pals over at Teachable. She’s brilliant so listen up.

Eighty-one percent of bloggers never make even $100. I find this statistic to be incredibly sad. Not only because the numbers are so low, but because I know people who are part of this 81% (and I bet you do too).

Most beginning bloggers are enthusiastic wantrepreneurs who are excited about leveraging new technology to build something new and creative around a passion or skill. That sentiment is a beautiful thing.

Which is why it’s so sad to see it die on a WordPress dashboard that shows only 30 views per month.

Not to mention, even if you beat the odds and start generating thousands of views per month, I bet monetizing your website is still a bit of an issue. No one wants to sling ads onto beautifully crafted content and working as an affiliate is just that – work – and for someone else.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  There’s still one piece of content that subscribers still value and will pay for, and that is an online course.

The average instructor at Teachable makes over $5,000 on their course. The reason why boils down to two key traits.

First, courses have an extremely high perceived value. Globally, we believe education to be valuable, exclusive and we’re willing to pay for it. Because of this, you can charge upwards of $100 for an online course. Compare this with an ebook and the contrast is striking.

Joanna Wiebe, founder of Copy Hackers agrees and has shifted her copywriting business toward online education.

“People responded really well to the courses, and so the shift just made sense, and the e-books came. I mean, when it comes down to it, too, people don’t put as much stock in an $18 e-book as they do in a $300, $400, $700 course.”

Secondly, courses are extremely fast to monetize and can easily generate passive income if you’ve already got an audience and have content, and most blogger do. All you have to do is repurpose your content into a structured online course, slap a price tag on it, and hit publish.

At Teachable, we’ve seen people go from blog to course and generate their first sale in less than 30 day. Here’s our step-by-step course creation process for bloggers:

Use what you know about your audience to find your tribe’s pain points

To create a successful course, you want to solve a problem. As a blogger, you probably have a good idea of who your audience is, what inspires them and what problems they face.

Ask yourself, what are my readers struggling with right now? The answer to this question may very well be the topic of your online course. The best courses are in high demand because they solve a common and painful problem that people are willing to pay for.

Take Pat Flynn for instance. He just launched a book, Will It Fly, with a companion course hosted on Teachable. When we asked Pat how he knew he had a good idea for a book, he said…

“First, I knew it was a book of interest because I have a show called Ask Pat…The number one question I get via voicemail is people asking me how do I know that this thing I’m working on is worth pursuing. That was the first thing – but that doesn’t necessarily tell me whether or not I need to write a book about this thing.

Then I reached out to people who I knew via a survey who had confirmed that this was something they’re struggling with and I spoke to them in person and dug deeper and there’s a lot of information in the book to discover what the problems are.”

If you’re not sure what the most painful problem facing your readers is, just ask and explore. You could send a survey. You could make your welcome email read “What is one thing you’re struggling with right now.” You could ask people for feedback in the comments of a new post.

Aggregate these responses and see what the most common are to find your audience pain points.

Create the beginning of your online course based on step 1

After figuring out exactly what your readers are struggling with, you can start to build a course that solves them.

For example, one instructor, Jon Haws, teaches a course helping nursing students pass the NCLEX (the nursing licensing exam).

“In my [welcome email], I asked them the very direct question: What are you struggling with right now…honestly, I didn’t really think it would work, but I threw it in there at the end of the email and it works really really well. I’ve gotten a lot of responses and what that has done is allows us to decide what we’re going to do next. We started a WordDoc where we copied every struggle that people would send to us and aggregated those. It turns out that pharmacology is what people are struggling with the most. And then I had a few instructors email us and say they liked our stuff. I tried to build relationships there and ask: what do your students need etc., and pharmacology kept popping up.”

From this, Jon created an online course, You Don’t Have to Struggle Through Pharmacology

Jon made over $16,000 launching his course and has since gone one to launch many more building a full academy of courses.

As a blogger, it’s likely that you already have a good amount of content created. Use this in your online course. A Teachable course can host video, audio, decks, and written content. Old blog posts can become scripts and videos can be reshared.

If you’re looking for specific advice for how to outline your course and break down your content into a successful outline, check out our live training every Tuesday that will walk you through our 7 Step Method For Creating Your Own Online Course. I personally host the event and will show you how to get your course live.

Many people ask if repurposing free content into an online course is ethical. While your course should not be 100% identical to your blog, I highly recommend reusing your free content.

First of all, some people simply prefer learning in a course format. Even if the content is extremely similar, they’ll throw away an ebook, but engage with a course.

Secondly, you’re saving time that you can use to create valuable “bonus offers” for your online course. A bonus can be anything from well designed cheat sheet, a tool you made for learning, or a workbook.

Another bonus is simply offering group trainings or consulting when someone purchases your course.

Resist the urge to create your whole course now

This is THE BIGGEST piece of advice I can give you and something that most people do wrong.

Most people do this: idea, create course, launch course, hope for the best.

Rather than hoping for the best you, try this: find your idea, create your first 1-2 course sections, presell your course, get feedback, incorporate that feedback into the remaining course content, fully launch a more perfect course.

The idea is this, the first time you do anything, it’s not as good as the second time. The first lecture you create will probably have flaws. Maybe your microphone isn’t up to snuff. Maybe your students want more ScreenFlows and less talking head videos. Maybe you thought your audience’s biggest pain point was one thing, but it’s actually something else.

By launching your course with only the first 1-2 sections of your course created, you can get feedback from your students (they’ll let you know what they think in the course discussion section) and update what you’re doing for the rest of your course.

This ensures that your final product is magical. It hasn’t been created in a hole, but rather a collaboration with the people who will actually be buying it.

This is something I’ve personally done while creating our own course, The Profitable Teacher. We had a simple video editing error that we discovered in module one, our faces sometimes covered critical text when we were discussing key points on a slideshare.

We were able to adjust this error in all other modules, but had we launched the full course at once, this is something that could have slipped through the cracks and drastically affected the quality of our course.

Direct traffic from your blog to your course

After you’ve created just 1-2 sections of your course, it’s time to direct traffic from your blog to your course and start selling it! There are dozens of different ways you can do this.

  • Include content upgrades to purchase your course in your blog post
  • Launch your course using an email launch sequence
  • Offer your course at the end of a webinar to your audience
  • Create a top at the top of your blog for your courses with a link to your course sales page

In fact, most people do all of these and more listing their course on daily deal websitesincorporating joint-venture partnerships and implementing email launch sequences.

However, one of my favorites is offering a mini email course that heavily promotes your course topic.

Mariah Coz is the founder of Femtrepreneur.co, when you visit her site, you have two simple options: get a free 10-day course or read her blog. A free course is an enticing lead magnet for anyone.

It feels munchable, something small each day. It doesn’t weigh you down with a huge time investment and it’s free. Once you sign up, you’ll get the subsequent 9 emails:

Within these emails Mariah talks about the importance of creating courses and offers her own. The final bonus email is a sales email inviting you to take her online course, Your First 1K.

What’s brilliant about this method is that the audience that takes your free ecourse is highly qualified to take your full-length course. Email courses convert extremely well and it give students an idea of who you are as an online instructor.

Nat Eliason and Justin Mares launched their course Programming for Marketers in this same fashion and made $48,000.

However, you don’t have to use an email course. A simple email launch sequence is easy and can still produce dramatic results. Posting your course in a blog post or on your Facebook group is an easy way to make a few sales. Whatever you choose, be sure to get the word about your course out to your audience.

With these steps in mind, you’ll find that it’s incredibly easy to start making money off of your blog with an online course. You already have the content and you already have the audience, all you have to do is repurpose your content into a gated and valuable online course.

If you want to explore, you can create a course for free on Teachable. For more specifics on creating your course, I write weekly on the Teachable Blog or you can Tweet at me via @TeachableHQ.