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How Quincy Smith Went From Being a TEFL Affiliate to Selling His Own TEFL Course
- Who: Quincy Smith
- Website: teflhero.com
- Course Topic: Teaching English
- Interesting Stats: Added 500 emails to list through a giveaway
Who are you and what course have you created?
I (with a partner) created TEFL Hero and our course is the 120hr Online TEFL Certification.
What market does your online course serve?
Our customers are interested in teaching English abroad or online and our course provides them with the foundational knowledge (and needed certification) in order to get a job and succeed.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
The biggest benefit is the TEFL certification which is often required by employers (and governments) in order to get a job as an English teacher. The most common requirement is a 120hr TEFL Course that provides the knowledge needed to educate students who are not native English speakers.
How did you get into the market?
I taught English in South Korea immediately after college – it was 2009 and jobs were scarce. It was taking my friends months to find anything and I saw an ad on our college job board looking for teachers to move to Korea for a year.
A few years after Korea I was looking into teaching abroad again and found all the websites to be awful – finding any information was tedious and the websites hard to navigate.
I was just getting into passive income at the time (Pat Flynn, etc) and thought I could do a better job. I ended up building ESL Authority (also mentioned here) with the goal of providing a better user experience to people looking to teach English abroad.
For a while, I promoted TEFL courses as an affiliate and then partnered with another company to help grow their customer base. After learning a bit more about the TEFL industry I thought this was something I could do as well.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
I decided to create my own TEFL course because I wanted a bigger piece of the financial pie. I knew I could do at least as good of a job as the other courses with whom I partnered.
The good news is that while they are extremely time-intensive and expensive to create, most TEFL courses cover very similar material. Making the only distinctions be in how they are marketed and how the customers are supported.
My career had moved from teaching to marketing at this point and I knew I could create a solid course (after all, I had taken a course myself and been behind the scenes on a few others) and drive traffic that would result in sales.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
Of course – doubts were frequent and there was always the thought that nobody would buy it, nobody would trust us as a brand, it wouldn’t get accredited (necessary for it to be valid in other countries), or wouldn’t be a format people liked.
Development was also stressful. We wanted to overdeliver on our first version and we spent a lot of time with some friends (who are licensed teachers) trying to figure out what we should cover that won’t significantly increase the cost or timeline of course creation.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
My history in the industry was my backbone. I already had a successful blog in ESL Authority and I knew that I was already selling X number of partner courses per month. Even though we only expected to take a small share of that as a newer company, I knew that we would be able to generate some revenue immediately.
What’s your online course like?
The course is built on LearnDash, which is a WordPress LMS plugin. It’s composed of modules filled with lessons and has a quiz at the end of each module (as well as a final assessment).
At this point, most of the material is text + supporting images/worksheets. But, we are slowly adding videos to each module and will eventually do the same for each lesson.
The course is linear so users have to start with Module 1 and can’t move on to Module 2 until they pass Quiz 1.
How long did it take you to create your course?
It took about 8 months from ideation to launch. This included everything from planning the modules, writing the lessons, designing the quizzes, getting accredited, building the website, etc.
We started with some competitive research of other courses in our intended price range. We looked at their curriculum, format, reviews, tech stack, marketing, etc. From there we outlined our course content and met with our friends to review the format and material.
From there, we contracted some writers and course creators to help shoulder the course creation part and let them churn out lessons and modules. We did all the editing ourselves as well as building the course on LearnDash and website design.
Then, we hired a few testers to go through the course, identify issues with functionality or content, and generally kick the tires.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
Our entire launch strategy was based around ESL Authority and we ended up using 3 phases:
- Replacing existing partner links with TEFL Hero links
- Adding TEFL Hero to some prominent areas of the site (think banner ads and popups)
- Running email campaigns to our existing list
We were lucky to generate a sale within the first day (which was incredible) but it’s been slow to get going. One of our launch goals is user validation.We take extra care to reach out to users to make sure the course experience is good. We want to make sure they like the course before we really step up the marketing. - Quincy Smith Click To Tweet
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
Our current strategy is 100% referral traffic from ESL Authority, though we have started publishing blog content recently and anticipate SEO playing a big role in the future.
What online course platform are you using?
We’re using WordPress + Elementor + LearnDash + WooCommerce.
Do you like it?
Yes, LearnDash is great and we did a ton of research on LMS platforms before choosing it. We had originally thought about using a turnkey solution like Podia but there were too many limitations (like with notifications).
WordPress + LearnDash allows us to customize the entire customer experience and ensure users get timely information while also keeping us admins up to date on sales, student progress, etc. It also looks great and the fact that it integrates with Elementor makes design changes easy.
Are there any features you wish it had?
The hardest thing has been certificate delivery. LearnDash allows you to build a certificate of completion in HTML. Then you award it to a student when they finish the course. The issue is that the builder is super rudimentary. There are very few rules for the triggers.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
We wanted a reputable platform but didn’t want to sacrifice functionality or the ability to customize things.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
We use Woocommerce to process payments, ActiveCampaign for our emails and are testing CartFlows for our sales funnels.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I am a big fan of Authority Hacker and their course Authority Hacker Pro. I’ve learned a ton about online businesses from their community as well as some tips on how to launch and manage your own courses/products.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
Nothing significant, but when moving the finished course from PDF/Doc to LearnDash we had to completely redo the formatting. Everything copied over incorrectly. Not entirely sure what the solution was. Ultimately, we ended up going back through every lesson and fixing spacing, sizing, etc.
Please share some idea of revenue.
We’ve sold about $500 worth of courses in the first 4 weeks (using a big coupon to entire early customers) and are on pace to double that in month 2.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.
We’re still in the early early stages of this business. All revenue is being used to either recoup our initial investment or put into marketing. We don’t anticipate taking any profit out of the business for a few months or so.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
We’ve added about 500 subscribers to our email list. This is thanks to a giveaway we are running (for the past 3 weeks) on ESL Authority. We’ve given away 5 courses (again, we want to kick the tires) at the pace of 1 per week. So we expect this amount to grow, though giveaway entrants aren’t the most engaged in the long term.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
I am tremendously proud of this course. It is the first product we have created from start to finish and it was very much a labor of love.I’m also optimistic that it will help increase our collective footprint in the English teaching industry. - Quincy Smith Click To Tweet
And we will be able to help more people like me who are interested in teaching abroad.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
Not yet – we are collecting feedback but it’s too soon to see what happens with job opportunities, etc.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
It will be so much smoother (and more interesting) to create a product around something you are interested in. I’m fortunate that I was so impacted by my time teaching abroad. Trying to build a course that I was not passionate about would have been so much more difficult.
Try and find the place where interest meets opportunity and preparation. This will make whatever you create that much more enjoyable.
Learn more about Quincy Smith of teflhero.com:
- Website: teflhero.com