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- Who: Shayna Oliveira
- Website: espressoenglish.net
- Course Topic: English Speaking Courses
- Interesting Stat: 1 million visitors/month
Who are you and what online course business have you created?
My name is Shayna Oliveira and I run EspressoEnglish.net where I help people learn English with practical lessons that only take a few minutes a day. I offer well over a dozen English speaking courses including the following course titles:
- 200 Common Errors in English
- Vocabulary Builder Course
- Everyday English Speaking Course
- English Listening Course
and many more …
What market do your online courses serve?
I teach English as a Second Language to learners who want to improve their language skills – grammar, vocabulary, speaking, etc. – but have very little time to study. That’s why my lessons are “short and sweet!” Many of my students learn English for business, travel, and daily life as immigrants to English-speaking countries.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?
Students improve their English skills quickly through bite-sized lessons that are clear, practical, and get straight to the point.
How did you get into the market?
I was working as a classroom English teacher in Brazil, giving group and private lessons, but my students often had trouble coming to class consistently due to work and family commitments, traffic jams, and so on. Two of my students apologized for their absences, and asked me to send them English lessons by email so they could at least study on their lunch breaks. That’s what sparked the idea for making my lessons available online so that anyone could access them from anywhere, anytime.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?I realized creating an online course could exponentially multiply my impact; I could teach hundreds or thousands of students instead of the 4-8 students in a typical language-learning classroom. - Shayna Oliveira Click To Tweet
Having an online course could also give me more freedom to create my own schedule and travel without losing money from canceling classes. Finally, I hoped to have children one day and I knew an online course would allow flexibility when it came to taking maternity leave and spending time with my family.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
I “pre-sold” my online course where I asked students to pay for it before I created and delivered it. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the publishing schedule I had promised (one lesson per day for 30 days).
But after about 17 students signed up for – and paid – for that course, I knew I had to deliver so as not to let them down. I cleared my schedule and got it done!I kept in mind the phrase, “Helpful is better than perfect”. - Shayna Oliveira Click To Tweet
Knowing that I could create lessons that truly helped the students and definitely give them their money’s worth, even if the course didn’t have all the polish or fancy features I would eventually like to give it. I figured I could always improve it later after getting feedback from the earliest students (and I did).
What are your online courses like?
I now have more than a dozen online courses. My earliest courses were only text and audio; later I progressed to making videos with my voice over slides, and nowadays I film myself presenting the lesson using a teleprompter. Students also get downloadable text and audio, and each lesson includes quizzes to help them review and practice. Some courses include homework where the students can send in their answers to be corrected by me or my assistant teacher.
How long did it take you to create your first course?
As mentioned, I “pre-sold” my first course where I asked students to sign up and pay before I had created the course. I promised to deliver 30 lessons in 30 days, starting on a specific date. This was very clear in the sales page, the confirmation page, etc… I had a general outline for the topics we would cover in the course, but I hadn’t actually made the lessons yet.
About 17 students registered and paid for the course, and then every day I produced a new lesson and sent it to them by email. There’s no better productivity hack for getting a course done than knowing you have paying customers waiting for the next lesson!
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first sale(s).
My first launch attempt was very inept and I’d consider it a failure or false start. Very early on, I attempted to sell a pronunciation course with absolutely no strategy and zero buildup of excitement. If I recall correctly, I only mentioned it in passing in my newsletter once or twice. I got 3 sales at $9 each and was extremely depressed.
Somehow, I kept going, and my next launch was the one where I “pre-sold” the course and managed to promote it better – and got 17 paying students. I was still a little disappointed because I was expecting more (thanks to comparing myself to all the spectacular case studies out there) – but it was a good start.
Do you have a lead magnet?
Yes! I offer a free e-book with 500 English phrases when someone signs up to my email list. Now I get about 4,000 sign-ups per month for that free e-book. I used to offer a free grammar e-book, but sign-ups increased when I changed it to the phrasebook. It’s definitely worth it to test your lead magnet!
After someone signs up and receives that free e-book, they receive a series of automated emails that both provide value (free tips/lessons) and encourage them to join my paid courses.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
Content marketing is my best traffic strategy which includes publishing free tips and mini-lessons on my blog and YouTube. I’ve been doing this consistently since 2012; at first I published several times a week, but nowadays it’s once a week. My site now gets over a million visits per month (most of which is from organic search traffic) and I have more than 350,000 followers on YouTube.
What online course platform are you using?
I’m using MemberMouse on my own WordPress site.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
At the time I started, Teachable and many other complete course platforms didn’t exist! However, I also prefer to host courses on my own site because I can have more control over the student experience. Also, MemberMouse was one of the few membership plugins at the time that allowed selling distinct course “bundles” (as opposed to only membership levels).
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
- Mailchimp to run my extensive email autoresponder and weekly e-newsletters.
- Zapier to integrate MemberMouse with Mailchimp. For example, if someone buys a particular product, they get “tagged” with that product’s name in Mailchimp so that they can then receive follow-up messages specific to the course they bought.
- Missive to share my email inbox with my assistant.
- Libsyn for podcast hosting.
- Audacity for audio editing.
- Wondershare Filmora for video editing.
Please share some idea of revenue.
My business generates a very comfortable full-time income for me and my family.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from your course has done for you.
I now have complete freedom and flexibility to work however much (or little) I want. Last year I took 6 months of maternity/travel leave, and the business kept running and generating income. We’ve bought a house as our “home base” and we have the means to take extended trips to visit my husband’s family overseas, as well as take any other trips we might like.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
Espresso English now gets over 1 million unique website visitors per month. I have an email list of 100,000 subscribers, and over 350,000 followers on YouTube.
This is all thanks to content marketing over the past 7 years – consistently publishing helpful, relevant blog posts and videos.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
I can say that I truly love my work! The combination of teaching and entrepreneurship “fits” me very well. I’ve always been involved in teaching/tutoring in some form, but I also have multiple interests, so I enjoy developing my skills in marketing, copywriting, design, strategy, project management, and so on.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
One of my students was an immigrant to the U.S., and she was having a lot of difficulty with pronunciation. Having a foreign accent caused her to have trouble communicating, and she felt insecure when she had to use her English in daily life.
After taking my pronunciation course, this student got a great confidence boost, and many other people noticed her improved speaking skills. This meant her experience living in the U.S. was much easier and more positive.
But that’s not all! A while later, she let me know she passed the U.S. citizenship test. My courses had helped her learn to speak better English and truly feel “at home” in the country.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Building up a successful business usually takes a lot longer (and with a lot more trial and error) than you anticipate. - Shayna Oliveira Click To Tweet
So don’t compare yourself or your numbers to the case studies you see online. Instead, keep doing the work and try to improve and grow year after year. Keep going, because the result is worth it!
Learn more about Shayna Oliveira and Espressoenglish.net:
Resources mentioned in this interview:
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- MemberMouse – Online course platform