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- Who: Mariah Liszewski
- Website: mariahmagazine.com
- Course Topic: Search Engine Optimization
- Interesting Stats: Made over $12,000 passively selling the course
Who are you and what course have you created?
I’m an SEO Consultant & Educator for online business owners, eCommerce shop owners, creatives, and digital entrepreneurs. I created the DIY SEO Course to help business owners start gaining more organic traffic from Google, without wanting to pull their hair out.
What market does your online course serve?
My course is for online business owners, including eCommerce shop owners, creatives, bloggers, service-based businesses, coaches, etc. that are looking to start getting more eyeballs on their content, services, products, and website by showing up in the exact place that people are already looking for them; Google.
A lot of my students & clients are sick of the never-ending content creation hamster wheel of social media and they want to learn how to start infusing SEO best practices into their website so they can start getting more customers & clients in a more sustainable way.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
The biggest benefit of taking the DIY SEO Course is *finally* understanding how SEO works. Truly. Most people are super overwhelmed by even the THOUGHT of SEO, so being able to educate and break it all down in a way that feels actionable, and practical, that’s the magic right there.
And then the natural byproduct of having a more SEO-friendly & optimized website is increased website traffic from search engines and the sales that come along with it!
How did you get into the market?
I got into the industry through website design & development. I would help clients launch their new websites, which was always really exciting, but they would end up coming back to me being like “okay, now what???”. Now that my old clients had their website, they weren’t sure how to start getting traffic TO that website, or how to start showing up in Google search.
And neither did I. That wasn’t my zone of genius … yet.
During this time, I was also new to the business world, so I had more time than money. So with that extra time, I started blogging about what I was learning about the online business space; tips, strategies, website tech, etc. But in order to get my blogs FOUND by people, I had to start tinkering with SEO.
But when I started learning about SEO, I hated it. I thought it was too techy, too overwhelming, and a bunch of BS. BUT what I realized was that most of the courses or content on the web ABOUT SEO was either created by advanced SEO professionals talking to other advanced SEO professionals, OR it was content created by SEO agencies trying to overwhelm local businesses owners with the nitty gritty details of SEO so those business owners would get frustrated and essentially just hire the SEO agency.
There was no good education or good options for business owners like myself & my clients; ONLINE business owners.
Small business owners. Non-local business owners.
So I ended up deciding to dive head-first into the world of SEO and figure it out myself. I took it apart and put it back together in a way that ACTUALLY makes sense. Then I started testing my findings on my own website & blog, seeing great results. Which resulted in me starting to offer SEO consulting services to clients. After testing, tweaking, experimenting, and learning SEO from the inside out, I became obsessed with it. And that’s when my main focus became SEO and not website design.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
Because the more I talked about SEO, my own results, and the results I was getting clients, the more I was getting people asking me how I did it. I’m also an educator at heart. Teaching people how to do something in a practical way just comes naturally to me. And I kept getting great feedback from people when I would post DIY SEO tips on social media and talk about SEO on podcasts. Everyone was saying “how easy” I made it, or how “FINALLY” they understood SEO & how it worked.
After getting all of that feedback, I thought it would be silly to NOT create a course.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
SO MUCH DOUBT.Even to this day, being an expert & educator for 5+ years, I STILL doubt myself. I doubt if I even “know” enough or if my course & other digital products are even “good enough”. -Mariah Liszewski Click To Tweet
I think it’s a natural part of the human experience, especially when you’re teaching something that you put together yourself. You’re always going to wonder if it’s good enough. That’s why you have to launch it. You HAVE to get feedback from people. That’s the only way to get it out of your head, and make it helpful for people.
And even though when I launched the course I had people asking for it, I was still SUPER nervous that no one would buy it.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?In order to move past resistance & self-doubt in business, I shift my perspective into “it’s just an experiment”. - Mariah Liszewski Click To Tweet
So in terms of the course, when it came to putting it together and launching it, I decided to see it as simply collecting data points. It’s not about people buying or not, it’s about seeing if I even ENJOY educating or teaching a course about it in the first place.
That shift, from “I have to get this right” to “this is just collecting data points” has always been WILDLY helpful. It takes the pressure off having to do it perfectly. Because it will never be perfect the first time around anyway. So, you mid as well put something out there that’s decent, and your heart is behind, and then allow yourself to tweak it after that.
What’s your online course like?
Most of my course is written & text-based, with video tutorials sprinkled throughout it. I decided to have it mostly text-based because technology & SEO can change pretty frequently so I wanted to create the course in a way that would make it easy to keep it updated. If it was ONLY video, then I would have to rerecord huge portions of it every time something changed, which just wasn’t sustainable for me.
The video tutorials are easier and smaller to update when something changes on a website platform or with a tool.
I don’t have any quizzes in there, although I think that’s a great idea!
How long did it take you to create your course?
When it came to creating the course, I did it live with the people that purchased it. So the first version of it probably took me 6-12 hours to create. I chunked SEO into 6 parts, and each section probably took me around 2 hours on average to create.
Now, keep in mind, this first version of the course wasn’t in a course platform or anything. I just created a Facebook group with the beta round of students, and then the entire course was delivered via text inside of a Google doc. Every week, for 6 weeks, I would drop in the next lesson. And then the students had until the end of the week to do the lesson and pop into the Facebook group with any questions.
In terms of the video tutorials, I didn’t have to spend too much time creating those because I already had a lot of them created for my YouTube channel already. (Signing up for Google Analytics & Google Search Console, Submitting your Sitemap to Google, etc)
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
When I first launched the DIY SEO Course, I did it as a “beta round”. This was for a few reasons; #1). I told myself it was an experiment to even see if I liked educating or teaching a course #2). I was HORRIFIED to do a big major launch and have it flop, so if I did a “beta round” and no one purchased, it would make it feel less like a failure.
So, I set the goal of getting 10 people into the beta round of the course, and I hit that goal. I think I actually got 11 or 12 people in that round and I was SUPER proud of myself. The beta round price was $147 and I sold out the spots before I even created the course.
After the cart closed, I created a schedule for the course itself and let the students know when the lessons would drop in the Google Doc & Facebook group. I’d drop one lesson a week for 6 weeks, and I usually created the lesson the day before it was supposed to drop to the students because I tell myself I work better under pressure (LOL but I really am just a master procrastinator).
In hindsight though, I think it was smart to only give myself a small amount of time to create this beta round of course content because it had me stay focused. Otherwise, if I took 6 weeks to create one lesson, it would be WAY to overwhelming for students because I would have tried to pack everything under the sun in each one.
Do you have a lead magnet?
I do have a lead magnet: The Roadmap to Successful SEO. I wanted to be SUPER intentional with the roadmap and not just make it a PDF that essentially sells my course, so it includes steps to help people get started right away with SEO without having to purchase the course to get a quick win.
The roadmap is a great freebie & resource to mention to people when I’m getting interviewed on a podcast. It’s a great list builder and a great way for people to get to know me & my teaching style before deciding to purchase the course.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
It might be a little meta, but SEO is one of the best ways that I sell my DIY SEO Course. The sales page for the course is currently on page #1 of search results, so I think that’s a great indication that I know what I’m talking about & that I practice what I preach.
I also get course sales from viewers of my YouTube channel. And I think this is so successful because they get a taste of how I teach SEO on YouTube, so they know already that they like my style and they trust my expertise, so it’s an easier “yes” then trying to sell to a completely cold audience.
What online course platform are you using?
Do you like it?
I love Kajabi as a course platform, I think it’s very well-built.
Are there any features you wish it had?
Their financial reporting options are a little too simplistic for my liking. It’s not easy to see the amount of money made in a certain time frame without jumping through hoops. I do wish the pricing was a little lower lol if anything they have more than what I need, so I wish I could put together my own plan that had certain things, and remove other things for a lower monthly cost.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I vaguely tested out the other platforms Podia & Teachable, but they just felt more clunky to me when it came to the delivery of the course. At the time Kajabi was one of the only options that had more flexibility, customization, and the option to create landing pages, etc.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
- Kajabi for the course hosting side of it, payments, along with email marketing.
- YouTube for hosting some of the videos that I refer to in the course.
- Descript for recording screenshares & tutorials.
- Google Drive & Google docs for planning & creating content before uploading it into the course platform.
- SEMRush as my keyword research tool for improving SEO to my course sales page
- Canva for creating course graphics
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
To be honest, the most helpful thing that I’ve allowed myself to explore as a business owner is Human Design. It’s not a book or a training program, it’s more of a system, kinda like astrology. But it’s been wildly helpful at allowing me to self-reflection, find my zone of genius, and see how I’m meant to show up in this world.
Without Human Design, I don’t know if I would have seen or owned the fact that I’m a good educator in the space. It’s through this system, and self-reflection, that I’ve really allowed myself to step into the path that’s meant for me. It’s been life-changing. And I’m not even trying to be cheesy about it. The first step to learning about Human Design is snagging your free chart. It’s pretty multi-layered, so I’d suggest as a business owner diving into your type, profile lines, and strategy first!
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?I think the biggest mistake I made along the way was ALWAYS feeling like I had to prove myself. - Mariah Liszewski Click To Tweet
Each time I went through and updated the course, I always felt like I had to add something and prove that I knew what I was doing. What this ended up doing was overcomplicating some of the lessons, in which I later had to strip back because they were just unneeded.
The other mistake is not continually asking past students for feedback or insights on their results. I was really good about this in the beginning, but as the course sales became more passive, the less I was focused on this.
Please share some idea of revenue.
After that initial beta launch, I never did a “launch” of the DIY SEO Course again. All of my sales have been passive, without me ever having to really focus on it. I mention the course here and there inside of my other digital products, on social media, and on YouTube. And the course is easily accessible on my website. After all that being said, not including the beta round, I’ve made over $12,000 from selling the DIY SEO Course.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.
The sales from the DIY SEO Course was a huge source of validation for me. It motivated me to keep teaching, keep educating, and keep sharing my knowledge with my audience. Because of the DIY SEO Course, I’ve doubled down on educational products, which have brought in over $11,000 just from 2023 alone. And then with the course sales in particular, since they’re a bit more passive and spread out vs. all from one launch, they’re like little passive income bonus to myself. AND on top of that, I know I’m helping online business owners get their small business found by the EXACT people that are already looking for it on Google.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
I got my course sales page on page #1 of Google by finding a gap in the market and optimizing the sales page to be the best solution to the problem when people are searching for a DIY SEO Course.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
It’s 100% increased my confidence in terms of educating my audience. Without the success of this DIY SEO Course, and the feedback from students, I wouldn’t be teaching workshops or creating other digital products like I do now. And it’s allowed me to test and experiment with my audience and students. I’m always learning from them and their websites, and situations, and that makes me a better SEO consultant overall.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
“I bought the DIY SEO Course & followed your advice for 3.5 months & it’s working!!!! Last month search traffic went up 61%, SALES from search went up 95%, AND my average order value went up by 33%! Thank you for offering a straight-to-the-point course.”
Patricia, Ecommerce Shop Owner
What advice do you have for people just starting out?When it comes to “figuring out” what kind of course to sell, start with what you’re already known for and what people come to you for. Take those questions and insights as clues to your own genius. - Mariah Liszewski Click To Tweet
Because sometimes we can’t read the label when we’re inside the jar. Also, have conversations with your people. If you’re considering creating a course that solves a specific problem for a specific kind of person, hop on a Zoom call with them and ask them questions. Get to know your people and what they need. THIS is how you create a course, a product, or a solution that sells itself, because you’ll be selling a solution for a problem that people know they have.
And then, allow yourself to test & tweak. Obviously make sure your heart, soul, and expertise are behind the course content. In terms of deliverability, resources, and extras, allow yourself to figure it out.Start simple! I started with a bare-bones Google Doc & made $1,000+ before even creating ONE SECOND of the course. - Mariah Liszewski Click To Tweet
I just outlined my idea and the lessons with bullet points. Then explained to people what the course was gonna cover. That’s it. It didn’t get deeper than that during the beta round launch. And I would do it that way all over again if I was starting over. Too many people create the whole course without talking to the target audience, having conversations, or testing the idea in the market. It can end up being a total waste of time, and become disheartening if no one buys.