- Who: Tiffany Allen
- Website: bossonabudget.com and bossonabudget.teachable.com/courses
- Course Topic: Nonprofits and Raising Startup Funding
- Interesting Stats: Currently sells about 20 courses/month
Who are you and what course have you created?
I created Boss on a Budget, a business that helps people launch their nonprofits and raise startup funding. My business provides courses, workbooks, and tool-kits on starting a nonprofit and grant writing.
What market does your online course serve?
My typical customers are people who are entrepreneurial – they’ve started their own business but realized they want to also serve their communities and provide some type of low-cost or free services.
They usually have a strong connection to their faith and believe strongly in giving back and serving those with fewer means. In particular, my business reaches those who want to serve the black community or other marginalized communities.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
The two biggest benefits are clarity and a plan.I usually begin by explaining why action is important and then give specific steps on how to execute by providing concrete examples. - Tiffany Allen Click To Tweet
For example, in my nonprofit jump-start course, I explain why it’s important to have a strong and consistent message about who your nonprofit serves and why your organization should be the one to serve them (elevator pitch). As part of that, I include a cheat sheet that helps board members and volunteers outline the different components of an elevator pitch so they can easily craft one on their own.
How did you get into the market?
Boss on a Budget is still a side hustle for me. As part of my full-time job, I work with national foundations that provide grant awards to nonprofits. I’ve observed how large founders make their decisions and realized pretty quickly that there is a knowledge gap on what it takes to attract funding and what small and new nonprofit think they should do to gain funding. I wanted to fill that gap, especially for other nonprofit founders who look like me and come from my community.
I also helped my partner with launching his nonprofit and learned the hard lessons that come from starting a nonprofit from the ground up.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
Creating an online course is about scaling my work. Especially because Boss on a Budget is my side hustle, I don’t have the time to train a large number of people. Instead, I can create a course and an infinite number of people can access it.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
I had some fear in the beginning because I wasn’t sure if I was producing enough value in the course. I wondered if people would purchase my courses and have any success?It was important for me to make sure I had enough actionable items so they could actually change their circumstances after taking my course. - Tiffany Allen Click To Tweet
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
I was excited about the world of online courses and wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, so there was never any doubt that I would finish the course.
What's your online course like?
I have several courses, so they have different formats. My full grant writing course includes 12 different video modules where I recorded myself talking to the screen and cut in different shots of PowerPoint slides. I also included sample documents like a sample proposal and cover letter and bonus videos (how to find founders on Twitter).
Another course I created – the board member recruitment toolbox – includes an introductory course on strategies for finding board members but it includes at least 7 “plug and play” documents, which means my customers can download them and start using them for their nonprofit right away.
How long did it take you to create your course?
My first course – the grant writing course – took at least 30 hours to complete. I had to write out scripts for each module and an outline for what I wanted to cover. Then I had to video record myself teaching the content, and also record some screen-shares if I wanted to demonstrate something on the computer. Then I had to edit the videos, create the marketing content (like course covers and sales pages), and upload all of the materials onto Teachable.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
My first course was my grant writing course. I have a Facebook group that’s focused on grant writing and I prepared for the launch by letting my group members know I was working on a course. I set up a pre-launch list for those who were interested in purchasing the course. The week leading up to the launch, I posted about my progress and then released it with an early bird rate, which led to my first purchase on the day my course launched.
Do you have a lead magnet?
Yes, for my nonprofit startup materials, I have a free nonprofit checklist, and for my grant writing courses, I have a grants worksheet that helps people identify grant opportunities for free. Those lead magnets add people to my email list, and I have a welcome sequence that introduces them to my products. I have a tripwire product (an inexpensive product that is offered as soon as people sign up) that’s working, but I’m still tweaking the sequence to get more conversions for my courses.
What's the traffic strategy that works best for you?
My best traffic strategies right now are my grant writing group and my tripwire product (mentioned above). About 20% of people who sign up for my freebies make a purchase.
What online course platform are you using?
Are there any features you wish it had?
I wish they would more easily accommodate non-video, non-presentation style products (like my workbooks), but for now, it works.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I did a comparison of the prominent platforms at the time and Teachable rose to the top based on customer reviews.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
I use Active Campaign to manage my email list.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
The Side Hustle Nation podcast with Nick Loper has been great for me.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
One of my biggest mistakes has been neglecting my email list and the blog on my website. I was adding potential customers to my mailing list through my lead magnets, but I wasn’t talking to my list regularly. For almost 1 year, I didn’t send any messages to my list. As of 2020, I’ve committed to sending emails at least once a week to my list and I also have a goal of publishing 4 blog posts a month (not there yet, but I’m getting closer!)
Please share some idea of revenue.
Though I launched my first course in 2017 and made $1,000 overall, I couldn’t devote much time to my business almost 2 years after that due to personal reasons. I recommitted to my business in 2020, and I’m selling an average of 20 products a month.
Please tell us a little about what the money you've earned from your course has done for you.
I’m still in the beginning stages, so I haven’t seen a huge financial impact. But all of my business expenses have been covered by my earnings.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
It gave me the confidence to create and be comfortable on camera. After recording my first course, I eventually created a YouTube channel where I share a new video every week. It’s not easy talking by video, and starting with courses and getting used to video editing prepared me for YouTube.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
I have one customer who has purchased almost all of the products I sell. She regularly checks in with me when she has a win. She recently sent me a screenshot of a COVID-19 grant she won from a local foundation. Her text said, “Because of you I have now received 8000 in COVID response.” It made me feel so grateful!
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
Keep things simple. I have a tendency to get excited by new products or services and I’m willing to try anything to help my business, but I get very distracted. Get proficient at executing one strategy and once you have a system down and are consistently implementing it, move to the next strategy. Don’t overwhelm yourself.