How Amin Jalal’s Online Course Uses Engaging Content to Teach European Portuguese Effectively

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  • Who: Amin Jalal
  • Website:
  • Course Topic: Language
  • Interesting Stats: 113 paid members

What market does your online course serve?

We teach European Portuguese. The way we do it is we send two short and bite-sized emails weekly. Each email contains a short story, a joke or a quote in English, with one sentence (usually the punchline!) in Portuguese. We then break down that sentence and teach grammar and vocabulary based on it. The emails are free.

We also have an e-learning center for subscribers who love our emails but want to learn in-depth grammar and vocabulary based on each story, practice what they learned with exercises and ask questions.

What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?

Plus members gain access to our learning center. That provides them access to all of our gated spaces. For instance, they get a much longer version of each story presented in our emails so they get to learn more advanced grammar and vocabulary. We also have weekly and monthly quizzes, grammar articles, games, etc. Our Plus members also get to ask their language related questions and receive expert answers.

How did you get into the market?

When I moved to Porto in 2020 and decided that I wanted to learn European Portuguese, I faced a challenge: I didn’t find the content of any platforms interesting and engaging. One day, I decided that I was going to create it myself and decided to launch a newsletter to teach Portuguese with a core focus on engaging content. I’ve written the longer version of the story here.

Amin Jalal's site

Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?

We began by sending daily short emails and rapidly gained thousands of subscribers. Many of them were contacting us and asking for more explanation, exercises, etc which we were unable to provide via email, so we decided to launch a paid membership for our most dedicated learners.

Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?

Yes indeed. Even though we had numerous subscribers who had shown interest, we had no idea how many of them were actually willing to commit and spend money. It was also difficult to come up with a membership price. We struggled with the name too (Pro vs Plus vs Gold). And since we were not sure whether we’d be continuing the course for long, we only offered monthly memberships at the start and only half a year after launch where we began offering yearly memberships.

If so, what made you turn it around and do it anyway?

Despite the risks, we had too much positive feedback to ignore. We also had to monetize our free newsletter and I wanted to avoid bombarding my subscribers with sponsored content.

What’s your online course like?

It started as text only, but we currently have a combination of text, audio, as well as different exercises (multiple choice questions, flashcards, memory games, crosswords, etc).

Amin Jalal's site

How long did it take you to create your course?

We contemplated the idea for months, but the actual launch took about 3-4 weeks. Unlike traditional courses that start from the basics and are progressional, we decided that our courses would be freshly created based on the free stories that we sent via email. Since we only needed the next 2-3 lessons to be prepared in advance, it was relatively quick to launch.

Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).

We built a landing page that highlighted the benefits, and announced it in our emails 10 days prior to launch.

Then we offered a 50% lifetime discount to members who were willing to sign up before seeing what it would even look like. We ended with 35 members who joined pre-launch. - Amin Jalal Click To Tweet

Do you have a lead magnet?

Our lead magnet is our free newsletter, which goes out twice a week.

In each email, we highlight what we’ve added recently for our paid members to tempt free subscribers to convert.

What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?

We began by posting on Facebook groups and got our first 3000 or so subscribers from there. Almost all of the subscribers we currently get are from word of mouth.

Amin Jalal's site

What online course platform are you using?

Do you like it?

Yes and no. It’s a good platform but is rather pricey for what it offers, and is missing certain features that we would benefit from and has certain features that we pay for but we don’t have use for.

Are there any features you wish it had?

They do have a course feature, but it’s quite basic. For example, it doesn’t (yet) track the progress of our students or allow us to add assignments, etc.

What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?

I wanted something that looked good, and the Circle platform looks sleek and modern. It also has plenty of community features (leaderboard, badges, etc) that we thought would come handy someday. I also like the fact that it’s forum-like and members can comment and interact with us and with one another.

What other tools do you use to run your online course business?

We use Stripe to charge payments and Zapier to automate several processes including sending them a Circle invite once they complete their payment.

What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?

I did plenty of research but I did not read any books on the topic.

Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?

Not a mistake that couldn’t be fixed, but several of my decisions were driven by my ego: “I’m running the business and I know what I’m doing.” - Amin Jalal Click To Tweet

Had I listened more carefully to our educator, who has actual teaching knowledge, I would have avoided some of the mistakes that cost us time and money to fix.

Please share some idea of revenue.

I can’t share the exact numbers, but we had 35 members who signed up pre-launch in October 2022 and we currently have 113 paid members, some of whom pay monthly and some yearly.

Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.

We have not reached the break-even point yet.

In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?

Our strategy was simple: we joined every Facebook channel that we thought could be relevant: learning Portuguese, expats in Portugal, general language learning groups, etc. We posted a short and friendly text about our newsletter along with a screenshot of our email and a link to our landing page, and by posting to 15+ groups daily, we got 3000 subscribers in 5 months. At some point it plateaued and we stopped posting on those groups.

Amin Jalal's site

What has creating your course done for you personally?

It made me more humble in a sense that I realized that despite all my business and marketing knowledge, I don’t know a lot about teaching and about how people learn. It has also made me learn so much about how to create content that is simple and yet appealing to learners.

Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?

We do not currently collect any success stories, but have several testimonials from our Plus members that are published on the Plus membership page.

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

Begin with the smoke test to validate your idea: create an outline of your course, and if in doubt create several courses. Place them on a landing page, decide on a reasonable launch date and advertise around. Your aim should be to get enough people on your waiting list to justify creating the course. You can offer a discount for those who join your list. If there’s enough interest, you create the course.

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Lisa Parmley
Lisa Parmley

Lisa Parmley is the founder of After gaining a Master's degree, she worked in research for about seven years. She started a training company in 2001, offering a course helping people pass a professional exam. That course has earned multiple 7 figures. She created SEO and authority site building training around 2007 which went on to earn well into the 6-figure mark.

She has 22+ years of experience in the trenches creating and selling online courses. Get help starting and growing your online course business here.

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