- Who: Rod Howell
- Website: unitedtaps.com
- Course Topic: Tap Dancing
- Interesting Stats: 20,000+ YouTube subscribers & 5 million views
Who are you and what courses have you created?
What markets do your online courses serve?
I actually serve two different markets which creates some challenges. I serve tap dance teachers all over the world who either need guidance on what to teach and/or actual material to teach to their students. I also serve adults (generally women 40-75) who have either tap-danced a little bit a long time ago or who have never tap danced at all.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your courses?
The benefits of my courses offer are numerous. First and foremost they are a lot of fun for my customers. Secondly, especially for my adult students, they are getting massive benefits in terms of both physical and mental health.
Dancing is literally one of the best things you can do to keep both your brain and body in shape and to prevent mental decline. My teachers gain confidence and save massive amounts of time by having material ready to go.
How did you get into the market?
When I first started I had a vision that anyone anywhere in the world should be able to learn to tap dance regardless of income. So I started posting free content on YouTube. That was well received so I added more and began to add paid content as well. It has continued to grow like that to this day. I still offer free material.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
At the time there were no other online tap dance courses and I believed my teaching was very good and would help a lot of people learn tap dance.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched your first course?
Oddly I did not have any doubts. I had been teaching tap dance for many years so I was quite confident in my teaching abilities.
What are your online courses like?
My courses are all videos but I do include written notes with all of them. I don't have quizzes and I can't follow the progress of my students from a dashboard due to the course delivery service I use. I've considered changing services but that would be an extremely complex situation to handle due to how much material I have.
How long does it take you to create your courses?
For my main lesson courses, it probably takes about 2-4 months to create depending on how diligent or not diligent I am about filming on a regular basis. I basically plan out what I'm going to film ahead of time in written form and then follow that on video. Sometimes I will rehearse before filming if the content is particularly challenging.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first sale(s).
I didn't have any kind of notable launch – I just put my course up for sale on my website.I had decent traffic from my YouTube channel so there were people ready to buy right from the very beginning. - Rod Howell Click To Tweet
Do you have a lead magnet?
I had free trials in the early days many years ago but once I got rid of the trials sales went up. That would indicate my product was bad, but when I survey customers they are happy and often come back.
I think instead it was the effect that they were in the mood to buy and satiated that craving by getting the free sample – but maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part:)
What's the traffic strategy that works best for you?
YouTube and Facebook are where it's at for me – they provide a lot of my traffic. I'm terrible at marketing through ads but I'm going to start improving that.
What online course platform are you using?
I use FastSpring which is not designed for courses but they do 3 crucial things:
- #1 they had and have no storage limit – this is more common now but 9 years ago it was a big deal for me.
- #2 they handle taxes – this is HUGE!
- #3 They allow for massive customization which is huge for me as well.
I like that they handle taxes and have unlimited storage and allow for customization but I don't like that it's not a beautiful course experience like what Teachable offers.
Are there any features you wish it had?
Yes – basically any course structuring at all. It just delivers files.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
At the time they had the best combination of price, unlimited storage, handling taxes, and customization.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
I'll start with my new favorite – Bonjoro. This allows you to send personalized video thank yous to customers. Customers LOVE IT! My sales have been up a lot since I started using it – I can't say it is because of that but I think it's it great.
I use Fastmail for handling email (I tried Zoho Mail – not good, and Office 365 has calendar issues). I was using Lucky Orange for live chat but I wasn't available enough to make it worth it.
I also use Vimeo to deliver my videos because that allows customers to watch their content on TVs and more easily download my content on their iOS devices. This is a pretty big win for them.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
No major mistakes but plenty of small ones. I switched companies for DVD production and that was a disaster. I made a lot of bad decisions in choosing web design software in the early days. Before reading Building a StoryBrand I was selling features instead of benefits.
Please share some idea of revenue.
Revenue ranges anywhere from $3k to $8k a month – it is highly variable.
Please tell us a little about what the money you've earned from your courses has done for you.
This business has allowed me to drastically reduce my hours spent teaching tap dance in a live studio. Being able to film when I want and having most evenings free to see my kids has been a huge benefit. I'm an introvert so being to work by myself is a huge bonus.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?I have over 20k subscribers on YouTube and over 5 million total YouTube views. That was all generated by having quality content and from continually posting. -Rod Howell Click To Tweet
I have over 1000 videos on YouTube. Granted I've been posting there since 2007 but content is king and consistency helps too.
What has creating your training done for you personally?
First of all, it has taught me a lot – about psychology, marketing, customer service, customer connection, pricing, etc. It's also given me the freedom to explore other areas of interest – I'm currently in the process of working on a new online course in a different field.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
I've had some crazy stories. I had one guy who was very overweight and lost 60 lbs by doing my videos and he told me that my videos probably saved his life. I've had people learn from my videos and then walk into a dance studio and be able to jump right in with their intermediate tap class.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
My advice is to talk to other people and gather whatever info you can. But there's no way to avoid all the potholes – just start doing it and solve the issues as they come up.