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- Who: Maureen Edwards
- Website: 8simplesteps.net
- Course Topic: Business
- Interesting Stats: 7500 Facebook followers
Who are you and what course have you created?
Both courses are focused on building a business that generates revenue, acquires profitability, and secures sustainability.
What market does your online course serve?
Small business owners, typically over 50, who are just starting a business, struggling with one, or ready to scale stronger.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
The course is designed to make learning and executing simple. Every course is taught in 8 Simple Steps with interactive, simple-to-digest content. To maximize the learning experience, I use a combination of course learning, implementation activities, and small group face-to-face mentoring and Q&A every week. This ensures the students comprehend the content and understand how to implement it into their business.
It is all about getting results after they leave the program. They get access to the program for an entire year, allowing them to reference content, replay their live sessions, and utilize resources.
No throwing them a video and workbook and having them figure it out. I am in the trenches with them every step of the way. Therefore, I do not enroll more than 15 students per class. Sometimes this means having a waitlist.
How did you get into the market?
After years of teaching my award-winning entrepreneurship, marketing & brand strategies to small business owners and startup entrepreneurs on my Saturday morning classes in Annapolis, COVID forced a pivot, requiring me to take it all online for them. The program caught on via word of mouth and demand from entrepreneurs throughout the world forced another pivot – expanding the teaching platform and features, consolidating courses, defining the program structure and curriculum, and reevaluating the price configuration.
I never expected something so horrible as COVID would result in creating something that would allow me to fulfill my mission on a higher level.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
I never expected to create a digital education company. When things started taking off beyond the original intention, I questioned if I wanted to make it a serious business. I had already built 5 companies and had a booming agency. I didn’t need a sixth under my belt. But being a serious entrepreneur through and through, I saw a gap and seized the opportunity. I knew I could make a bigger difference for more business owners if I took the risk.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
Even though I had a captive audience starting out, I still had doubts. I doubted the learning platform, executing the online delivery experience, and if the program could achieve the same outcomes as a face-to-face model.
My goal was to provide the same high level of education and interaction as I did in a classroom, just digitally. It’s not that easy, especially since many of my students did not have a lot of tech skills and were intimidated with digital learning. Having a simple tech platform and the mentoring and Q&A component made the difference.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
My commitment to my students and their business made me push through all the nitty gritty details that need to be considered to ensure a streamlined user experience. Once I accepted there would be glitches and made that transparent from the start, there was a lot less worry over the messy of it all. But I am glad I got a lot of the tweaks done and glitches fixed before it went worldwide.
My students were very flexible and understanding. I was lucky to have this reprieve when I started. It’s like we were learning it all together. I still recommend launching even if it isn’t perfect. If you wait for perfection, it will never get done.
What’s your online course like?
It is a combination of video, PPT, and real-world case studies. Students have prework before taking each module and then adjust it after the module and during the Q&A. We meet every week as a group for 4 weeks to ensure they comprehend the material and can implement it into their business. I provide all my checklists, resources, templates, and award-winning best practices for them to use. They have access to me via email during the week if they need assistance. The program is not a one size fits all because no two businesses and owners are alike.
How long did it take you to create your course?
I have an enormous vault of content and teaching materials from when I was doing it pre-COVID, so having content for the course was easy. With every class I worked with, I adjusted based on feedback. The courses have gone through several revisions to continue improving the program and experience for my students. My industry changes so frequently that I am always updating content and creating new videos.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
Originally, I had a captive audience because I created it for them with the intention it would be temporary. Getting sales from them was easy. For those who knew me, heard me speak at events, and were referrals, there was no effort to getting students.
But to expand reach and conversion beyond that was much harder. Organic conversion requires a different approach. I really increased my social media exposure and influence, now operating 5 platforms. I run several Clubhouse rooms a week to build a community who know, like, and trust me.
Also, I did a live masterclass to launch outside of my inner circle. I had 260 registrants, 100 showed up, and 20 people joined the program within that hour. This may not seem like a lot but with a cold audience, the average attendance is a 1/3 of registrants and conversion is less than 5%. I was very excited about this. It was the benchmark moving forward.
Do you have a lead magnet?
I started doing live free masterclasses and offering the course through them. It was incredibly successful but very time consuming. I discovered I could provide it evergreen and remove the course upsell out of the equation. I’m able to use it to build my list and build a relationship. I promote it at networking events, my CH rooms, and speaking engagements. I get a steady stream of students without doing webinar events all the time.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
One of my best traffic sources is through public speaking. I am a national speaker and educator for several small business non-profits. I volunteer my time with workshops, educational presentations, and open office hour calls. It is from that that I start building a relationship with my right fit audience. I offer a QR code as a special gift for being part of an event and discuss the program with potential leads after learning more about their business needs.
What online course platform are you using?
Take a Look at Thinkific!
Thinkific is the most popular online course platform used by successful course creators interviewed on coursemethod.com. It’s a complete solution for creating sales pages, uploading all course content, taking payments, and more.
- Price Range: Free to $499/month
- Most Popular Plan: Pro Plan at $99/month
- Annual Discount: Yes, take 20% off!
- Free Trial: Try out Thinkific’s core features for free.
Do you like it?
Yes. It is simple to use and simple for my students to access.
Are there any features you wish it had?
I wish it had easier end-to-end solutions including email marketing.
I wish it was easier to create the website landing pages. It is much easier to work the back-end education materials than build the front end.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I did research on many platforms. Thinkific was recommended for its simplicity – for me and my students. I do not like anything complicated, especially tech. It makes for a frustrating user experience.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
Zoom for mentoring the course and creating the teaching videos. Mailchimp for email marketing. Squarespace for my website. I believe in running every business lean. Technology should be kept simple with every business, especially this one.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
The book on social media that helped me up my game is One Million Followers. It has simple tactics that I implemented and saw results.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
I didn’t have the right pricing structure when I started. If you charge too little, the program is perceived to get less results. If you charge too much, it can price your right fit audience out. I didn’t charge enough for what I was doing and the results I was getting.I underestimated what people will spend for the type of program. If people see value and results, they will tell others. I quadrupled my price, and my business has thrived. - Maureen Edwards Click To Tweet
Please share some idea of revenue.
I limit my program to 15 per class. I run 1-2 classes per month. On average 25-30 students come through either the S.TA.R.T. or V.A.L.U.E. program. They are priced differently. Revenue is averaging about 30k per month between the two. Some months are higher, others lower. The first and fourth quarters are the busiest. I plan on increasing classes during that time.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.
The course has allowed me to witness the success of other business owners who are making a difference with their dream. I haven’t changed my spending habits. I just have more time for other things which is more important.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
My company’s Facebook page was a challenge to get followers and likes no matter how much I posted.Once I became a member of all the different entrepreneur, marketing, and small business groups and engaged frequently, my Facebook page grew exponentially. - Maureen Edwards Click To Tweet
I started the page in May 2020 and now have over 7500 followers & likes with amazing engagement from my right fit audience. I highly suggest joining groups where you can share your expertise, network, and let people know how you can help them.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
I can multiply my impact and fulfil the mission I have had for years – impacting at least one small business a day to thrive and survive.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
Yes. Viviane, a Harvard professor with a dream of opening a truffle chocolate company was a student in my S.TA.R.T. program. In 4 weeks, she built a viable business and had enough confidence to leave her teaching job. She opened Vivilicious truffles and in 3 months had to hire employees, signed contracts with restaurants, and now ships all over the world. This warms my heart, and I am so proud of her success and taking the risk to fulfill her dream. This is why I do what I do.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?If you do not have course content, don’t panic. Do not spend hours creating it until you get a few students. Only do 1 module at a time. Tweak it as you get feedback. - Maureen Edwards Click To Tweet
You will know what to add, delete, and simplify. Then you will have content and a curriculum that is tested before you expand.
Make sure you niche your target audience, define your value prop and outcomes, and differentiate from the competitors. There are a lot of course creators, You have to offer something special and something that gives customers a win. Focus on it being about the student and the results. Do not go for quantity, go for quality.