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How John Arms Founded Voyageur University to Serve the Fractional Professional
- Who: John Arms
- Website: voyageuru.com
- Course Topic: Business Professional Training
- Interesting Stats: 10 ebooks downloaded = 1 customer
Who are you and what course have you created?
I am the founder and co-creator of Voyageur University: coursework on how to become a fractional professional. (Aka consultant, freelancer, independent, remote, 1099er, or contractor)
What market does your online course serve?
- Our market is recently laid off or flustered business professionals.
- 50% women, 50% men.
- 40 years old and up.
- They do NOT want to go back to the corporate life that laid them off or limited their career arc.
- The “Great Resignation” people are our people!
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
- Going back into the economy after a layoff in control of your career.
- Better pay.
- Even better work/life balance.
- Reduce the risk of a layoff.
- Equity in businesses and board roles.
How did you get into the market?
I walked away from my CEO role to pursue a more independent career. In that process, I charted how I set up my business, got clients, and maintained a business. During that time I met my now business partner Jason Voiovich who happened to be taking the same journey. Together we created the Voyageur u coursework.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
We asked our first customers how they would prefer to learn about going independent. They told us online, at their own pace, in bite-sized pieces and preferably with video as a part of it.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
Absolutely. But not in the coursework. We felt good about that. We had doubts about people wanting to work for themselves. And we had doubts businesses would hire independent professionals over full-timers. We had doubts if the coursework and solutions we offered were the right fit. As for not being good enough, imposter syndrome crept in early. But is no longer an issue.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
We take the beta approach. Always listen and always optimize our product for our clients. We also measure everything. Customer input and data input do a lot to overcome doubts and “learn our way forward.” Every time we faced a challenge or had a doubt, we went straight to the customer intel to overcome it. We still do.
What’s your online course like?
We call it Snack Size learning.
- Short videos on large concepts
- Worksheets with each course
- Resource pool with deeper learning and engagement tools
How long did it take you to create your course?
About 5 hours per course. We first mapped out every issue we faced going independent. Then we imagined other issues people would face. That gave us a list of 100 topics to teach. From there we wrote, filmed, edited, and posted our coursework.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
Our launch was very much social media-based. We were active on LinkedIn already so we leaned into that for content creation and ads. In addition to that, we worked on referral channels very diligently. That got us our first sale and still does well today. However, today our marketing and sales are much more sophisticated than a few social posts and networking.
Do you have a lead magnet?
We do. Our ebook is our best lead magnet. It is free. It is short and sweet.For every 10 ebooks downloaded we get 1 customer. - John Arms Click To Tweet
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
Our traffic strategy is based on a Marketing Operating System we created. It’s working wonderfully. We chart each stage of the customer journey, track data along each step, and then optimize at every prospect intersection.
What online course platform are you using?
We use Teachable as our online course platform.
Check Out Teachable
Teachable is one of the top online course platforms used by successful course creators interviewed on coursemethod.com. It is easy to set up and build your site pages, and the course area looks great.
- Price Range: $0 (+ transaction fees) to $299/month
- Most Popular Plan: Pro Plan at $119/month
- Annual Discount: Yes, take 17% off!
- Free Trial: Try out Teachable’s core features for free
Do you like it?
We do like it.
Are there any features you wish it had?
We wish it had better student community functionality. And we wish the data capture was sharper.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
Ownership. We weren’t open to giving control of our content to a platform. That is our IP we develop and protect.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
- UFM Marketing OS (Our own product)
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
- WorkQuake by Steve Cadigan.
- Paul Estes LinkedIn newsletter on the gig economy.
- The Go Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann.
- Traction EOS by Gino Wickman.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
So many. But each one is just a learning moment to build from. An early mistake we made was trying to drive our customers toward certification over a specific time period. People want to learn at their own pace for their own reasons. So we adjusted our program to accommodate people’s desire to move at the speed they are comfortable with, and not put unnecessary pressure on them. They are here to learn, not get an award!
Please share some idea of revenue.
Our first year of sales was about $7,000.
Today we earn about $2,000 per month.
We currently grow at about 5% per month.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.
We put all of our sales back into the product, customer support, and business growth. That will sustain until about halfway through 2023 on our current business plan. Then we begin to take dividends.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
Two numbers matter most to us.
We are focused on one big number: 15 million. That’s how many professionals will exit the workforce and choose to be independent in the next 5 years. We market to that number in small pieces at a time on purpose until we learn enough of what we think that market wants so that we can deliver it to them at scale.
We have chosen a $19/mo membership cost. Every other tool out there takes a cut of your client revenue once you are independent. That is the demand side way to earn revenue. We choose early on to be 100% focused on the supply side: the worker. So we take 0% markup to stay pure to our mission.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
So many things!
- I learn every day. I call it my rolling Master’s Degree.
- I’ve become a thought leader in the fractional economy.
- I feel a great sense of purpose in helping the people we help.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
This story is from two years ago. Our very first customer was laid off from her job as Chief Marketing Officer from a healthcare SAS company. The culture was toxic, leadership did not listen to her despite her wisdom and skill, and people regularly stole ideas from each other. All the garbage that comes with bad corporate work was her daily existence. Out of the blue, she was terminated with no severance. She was devasted. Fast forward six months after immersing herself in Voyageur U training and she has her first two customers. Just as she was gaining momentum the pandemic hit. After an 8-month slowdown, she remained committed to the model of fractional, leading to a thriving fractional CMO practice today. I feel great of course. But more importantly, she is ecstatic. She travels, (and she has money and time TO travel) and she has a wonderful balance between work and life, and is well respected by her clients.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
If you are just starting out my advice is to fail quickly and learn from it.You can’t escape failure. In fact, it’s part of growth. But you have to take it as a lesson and not a setback. - John Arms Click To Tweet
What do I wish I knew before I started? I wish I knew how much patience it takes to succeed in doing this. It requires a tremendous amount of patience to do this work.