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- Who: Joe Casabona
- Website: casabona.org
- Course Topic: Podcasting
- Interesting Stats: Top 2% of podcasts
Who are you and what course have you created?
My name is Joe Casabona and I am the Founder of Podcast Liftoff, where I help people launch, grow, and make money podcasting. I’ve been teaching for over 10 years, both at the college level and online, and have developed online curriculums for The University of Scranton and Sessions College. I also sell my own courses and create courses for LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com).
What market does your online course serve?
My focus has been in several areas over the years, but my current offerings help people build profitable podcasts. I want to help speaker, authors, and educators create a podcast that makes them money, gets them more consulting gigs, and sell more products. I also help current podcasters make their first $10,000.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
Many podcasters think they need tens of thousands of downloads to make money. My courses help them shift their mindset to realize it’s less about the number of downloads and more about the audience they serve.
How did you get into the market?
I launched my first podcast in 2012 and it was a dud. 4 years later, I decided to give it another try, making some tweaks to my approach. I was able to get sponsored before I had any downloads, and the show took off. Since then, I’ve launched 2 separate shows, both sponsored before the first episode came out. I didn’t think much of it until people started to reach out and ask me how I did it, my approach, and how they could do it too. So I decided to turn my expertise into courses.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
I love teaching and always have. When I was a freelance web developer, I enjoyed teaching my clients how to use their own websites. In grad school, I got a teaching assistantship that eventually turned into an adjunct role. But when I moved away from my alma mater, I wanted to keep teaching. So I decided to create online courses using what I learned teaching in the classroom.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
Constantly! At first, I took the approach most course creators take. Come up with an idea, spend 6 months developing the course, and then launch it and hope for the best. What honestly made me push through was the fallacy of sunk cost.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
It wasn’t until my 3rd course like this that I actually saw some success…and that’s because I was working with the company that made the product I was teaching. After 3 or 4 (or 5) failures in the “Develop and hope for the best” approach, I decided I needed to do something different. So now I take a much more modular, work-in-public approach. It makes developing the right content and gauging demand much easier.
What’s your online course like?
My current course, Podcast Liftoff, is a self-paced pre-recording video course with some text and a workbook. Each video includes slides, live action, and screencasts when I’m demoing software. I even have a video where I teach people how to set up their mic!
How long did it take you to create your course?
This course, from idea to launch took about 4 months. I drew a lot on previous content I had and feedback from a beta version of the course. My process is generally to determine where I want the student to be at the end of the course, then to do a mind map of all the topics I could possibly cover. I turn that mind map into an outline which also serves as video/lesson titles. After that, I do some rough scripts (but I’m pretty comfortable in front of a camera so I usually adlib a lot).
Then – and this is the most clutch change I’ve made to my process ever – I send the videos to my editor. While he edits, I work on marketing copy and create video title card templates for my VA to make the title cards. Once the videos are complete, I add the course to my LMS (I use LearnDash + Vimeo for video hosting).
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
Using the email list I’ve built up, I’ll do a 10-day email launch sequence promoting the course and offering a limited-time discount for people on the mailing list. This is the primary driver of my sales, but I’ll also reach out to friends and affiliates and let them know the course is launching. Social media plays a smaller role (I’ve found that conversion isn’t very good there), but I’ll still post a few times during those 2 weeks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Do you have a lead magnet?
I have a few lead magnets that have worked to varying degrees, but the ones that have worked the best are my 52 Episode Ideas and my Podcast Planners. These get qualified leads onto my list, and into a welcome sequence. I don’t do a direct sell of the course in the welcome sequence (I’m working on a new one which will be a centerpiece of the sequence), but generally the people are receptive when I do the sales sequences.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
This is something I’m still trying to figure out as I pivot away from my development niche and fully into the podcasting niche. Right now, going on podcasts has been super effective for me, but I’m creating more focused niche content and trying to build my list that way as well. This is a big experimentation period for me but I’m seeing some promising results so far!
What online course platform are you using?
I’m using LearnDash + WooCommerce for the sales part.
Do you like it?
I love LearnDash. In a previous life, I was a WordPress developer so this made sense for me. However, the WooCommerce part is overkill for me now. If I were starting from scratch today, I’d use only LearnDash.
Are there any features you wish it had?
They have the beginnings of some good membership features but I’d love to see them built out a little more. I’d especially like it to be a little easier to create members-only content.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
Control was a big part of it for me, but as a WordPress developer, this was also the easiest, most affordable path for me. I know that’s not the case for many, but using my development skills, I was able to fully customize the experience to make it what I wanted it to be.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
I’m using ConvertKit for my email marketing, Canva for all of my graphics, and Vimeo for my videos. That’s really the core of the business. For recording, I use eCamm Live + my Stream Deck for in-video effects, because it reduces the amount of editing my editor needs to do in post. Zapier connects everything too! I love building automations.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
This is a great question that I don’t think I have a great answer to. Since I’ve been teaching in the classroom, I got a lot of on-the-job experience and mentorship. However, there have been a few important books: Building a Story Brand and Marketing Made Simple helped me understand the importance of a story. Company of One taught me it’s OK to want to be small, and Essentialism taught me to say no to more.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
My biggest mistake is thinking I can just develop a course on whatever I knew.People need to know, like, and trust you to buy a course, and if you don’t build a reputation around a topic, you shouldn’t develop a course. - Joe Casabona Click To Tweet
This mistake is predicated on the fact that I didn’t do any market research for my first courses. I just went ahead and made them and hoped for the best.
Please share some idea of revenue.
Between all of my courses, I generate around $3,000/mo. But I’ve taken a small break from actively marketing them while I develop my higher ticket cohort-based course.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.
My courses quite literally support my family! My wife and I have a house and 3 kids, and I’m full-time self-employed. The fact that I can sell courses to bring in enough income to support us has been a dream come true.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
My main podcast gets around 60,000 downloads per month, which is in the top 2% of podcasts. It’s been incredible to see how the show has grown and has given me insight into how to successfully launch, grow, and monetize podcasts in a way that has allowed me to create the courses I offer today.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
I LOVE teaching – and especially helping beginners.I like making the first steps as easy as possible for someone so that they can feel confident moving forward. - Joe Casabona Click To Tweet
It’s an incredibly rewarding experience when someone tells me they’ve started a new career, path, or project because of one of my courses.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
One of my first students attributed graduating college to the help I gave them, which remains one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. More recently, thanks to my courses and help, I’ve had a few clients tell me that they’ve been able to land their first podcast sponsors, setting them on a great path to revenue through podcasting. I absolutely love that I can help people take something that is costing them money and turn it into something that makes money for them.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?If you’re developing a course for the first time, the best thing you can do is build your mailing list with people in your course’s target niche. Do this by offering good advice and a relevant lead magnet. - Joe Casabona Click To Tweet
THEN I recommend pre-selling the course and doing a live version (week-by-week) first so you can develop and adapt the course to the needs of the students. There’s nothing worse than spending 6 months on a course just to realize no one wants it!