- Who: Victor Cohen
- Website: Testingforvictory.com
- Course Topic: MCAT review
- Interesting Stats: 1,000+ emails in one month
Who are you and what course have you created?
I am a third-year medical student at Emory University School of Medicine, and I am the founder of Testing for Victory. I created an online course for the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test) with the mission of helping marginalized and disadvantaged students.
What market does your online course serve?
My course was built for students who dream of becoming physicians in the future. It is specially catered to students who cannot afford to pay $1,800+ for test-prep. Many smart and ambitious pre-med students who could have gone to become educated and compassionate physicians are prevented from achieving their dreams due to the financial burden of paying to take and study for the MCAT. So, I created an affordable course that includes all the material they have to know.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
My students want to become doctors. This course will get them one step closer to achieving their dream. Since medical schools receive too many applications to read, they use the MCAT score as a preliminary filter. This means that medical school admissions committees would not even read the application of some of the most impressive students if they get a low MCAT score. My course was built to ensure that does not happen. We guarantee they will increase their MCAT score, which will, therefore, increase their chances of getting into medical school
How did you get into the market?
I studied for the MCAT using an expensive test-prep company. I was put in a classroom with 100 other students who also paid $1800+ to be there. Sadly, it was not worth the cost. Not only was the course poorly made, but their advice often went against the advice by the AAMC (the MCAT test-makers). I was doing worse by doing what they told me to do, and I was not alone. I realized I could make a course that was not only better but also more affordable.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
Before coming up with the idea to make an online course, I did not think of myself as having any value. I was a pre-med student with a degree in psychology. Instead of getting paid for tutoring others, I was paying my University to be a teaching assistant, student instructor, and course coordinator for organic chemistry, biochemistry, general chemistry labs, and a psychology class. I also tutored my friends for free.
One day, I was talking to my family about how I paid to tutor others and they could not believe how ridiculous that was. That is when I realized that I had value. I did not need to finish medical school and residency, I already had value due to the knowledge I possessed.
I put all my effort into making the best MCAT course I could create, and I am so proud of how it all turned out.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
I was full of doubts before launching. I had been working on the course a ton because we were pulled out of clinical rotations for medical school. Right when I was about the finish the course, we were sent an email that rotations would start again. Not only did I need to be stressed about creating my online course and really putting myself out there, but I also had to go to a hospital full of COVID patients as cases were rising.
I get some bad canker sores when I get really stressed. The bottom of my tongue was full of them. The worse canker sore outbreak I have ever experienced – almost had a panic attack when I saw how bad it was. I took a picture and it is NSFL. So, I was starting rotations, launching my course, and could not talk because of the pain. My stress could not have been higher.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
I put in way too much work to just set it aside even though I had no idea if it was going to be successful, or if people would like it. I published the course, started some ads, and waited. Truly, I was happy and anxious when the first few sales started coming in. What if they hate it? – I asked myself. After some time, I asked them for their first impressions and their responses almost made me cry with joy. They told me I was making a real impact on their learning – how I was explaining the information they could never understand before. They were so grateful for the course and for the work I put in.
What's your online course like?
The course is mainly “talking head” videos with animations and/or hand-written problem solving intermixed. I wanted to teach each subject of the MCAT using the best resources available. For example, in my opinion, chemistry and physics problems are best understood when they are being solved live. As a student, one can follow every step of the problem. For biology and biochemistry, it is better to see animated versions of how cells and/or organs function.
I am currently developing some questions for the course as well as flashcards.
How long did it take you to create your course?
It took 2 and a half years to fully create the course. The process was drawn out due to the time constraints in medical school.
Before starting medical school, I took a gap year. During the first half of the year, I was reading a lot of textbooks and online resources to fully understand the MCAT concepts. I wrote detailed scripts as I learned the material.
Then I set up my studio in my house using any relevant decoration I could find. I bought Dracast lights and a teleprompter for the iPad because I wanted everything to look as professional as possible. I then sat in the table and read through the scripts.
By the time I finished recording my videos, medical school was starting. I had to adjust to a new schedule with far more work and memorization than I ever had to endure before.
At the same time, I learned how to use Final Cut Pro X to edit my videos. After editing, I did voiceover to correct a few errors, and I learned how to use Affinity Designer to add illustrations. I learned both programs by using free videos online. There were a lot of gaps between how I prioritized my time. Sometimes medical school was so time-consuming that I would go weeks without working on my course.
I was not able to make meaningful progress until coronavirus resulted in students getting pulled from clinical rotations. This gave me two months to finish my course. I wanted to animate my illustrations, but After Effects was far too difficult to learn. I ended up finding my own methods to animate things by using Final Cut Pro X.
About one week before we had to re-start rotations, I finished my last video. Then, I started making the website. I created illustrations and added my own copy. I finished everything and launched as soon as rotations started.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
The MCAT has a cycle where most students take the test in May to late June. Since I was launching June 1st, I did not have the time to build an email list or get a following. I was far too busy focusing on making the course as high quality as I could, so I did not have an effective marketing strategy. I used Google ads and Facebook ads on cold audiences, so it’s no surprise it took over a week to get my first purchase. Right now, very few students are studying for the MCAT, but I am getting my marketing strategy ready for January when more students will start studying for the test.
I am collaborating with social media influencers and am creating an irresistible lead magnet for my audience.
Do you have a lead magnet?
The current lead magnet I offer is a free PDF with “All the equations every MCAT Test taker needs to memorize”. To get the PDF, students must enter their email address. I currently have an automated sequence of emails that I am tweaking to slowly increase my conversions.
I am working on creating flashcards that go with the course material on a popular medical school application called Anki. Depending on my free time, I am planning on creating a free mini-course on how to use Anki efficiently to study for the MCAT and am providing the flashcards for free. While useful, the course is practically required to use the flashcards effectively.
What's the traffic strategy that works best for you?
Facebook ads and Instagram influencers have been the most effective way to communicate with my audience. On Facebook, I am offering the lead magnet to nurture my audience.Instagram influencers with ~10,000+ followers have promoted my course. - Victor Cohen Click To Tweet
I appreciate that all the influencers first asked for full access to the course to ensure its quality. They care about their audience and they want the best for them.
The influencers are all medical students or pre-med students who know how important a good MCAT score is for a medical school application. They also really appreciate my company’s mission to help students who are underprivileged.
What online course platform are you using?
Do you like it?
I do not have strong feelings for or against Thinkific. I appreciate that there are three-course design options, but I wish there was a bit more versatility with the creation of sales pages. Other things I like include how the course looks from a student perspective and that communities can be added to the course.
I also noticed the website loads relatively slow on mobile devices. I have tested multiple Thinkific websites and have noticed the same issue due to inefficient coding. My website loads in ~3.5 seconds on mobile devices. While this may not seem bad, I am losing potential customers due to them not waiting for the site to load.
Are there any features you wish it had?
I wish I could add the quizzes under my videos instead of having to make an entirely different lesson for them.
I wish Thinkific had an email automation system similar to Kajabi.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I was first interested in Teachable due to hearing about them and signing up for one of their webinars. Before signing up, I wanted to read more about my options, so I googled “Teachable competition” and found a long sales page made by Teachable where they compared their platform to Thinkific.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
I am using Mailchimp, which I strongly dislike due to the poor email automation system. I currently want to change the order of my emails, but the system is so impractical that it would be easier to just start over. Instead of starting over on Mailchimp, I am considering switching to ActiveCampaign, or migrating my entire website to Kajabi.
I am also using Facebook ads and Google ads. Google ads were more intuitive than Facebook at first, but I now strongly prefer Facebooks’ ads manager due to its versatility.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I have done everything by testing random things out or by googling from a variety of sources. I am currently listening to Amy Porterfield to improve my email marketing strategy.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
When I first made my website, I wanted all my images to appear crisp and without any pixels. I also put a long Gif to show my animations in action. Since I was only accessing my website on my computer using 100+ MB internet, I had no issues loading my page. Meanwhile, I was advertising to mobile devices through Instagram and Facebook getting practically zero conversions. I lost a lot of potential customers due to my lack of considering my website speed. I have now been working hard at making my website as fast as I can.
Another big mistake was starting with Mailchimps’ free email resource. The poor automation software is costing me money and it will cost me time to migrate.
Please share some idea of revenue.
~$5,000 in two months.
Please tell us a little about what the money you've earned from your course has done for you.
I am so happy this course has started making revenue and is profitable already, but I strongly believe that this course can disrupt the MCAT market. So, I have been investing all my revenue back into my company to try and make it grow. It will take time, but I see a future where I offer everything the big prep companies offer, but at a higher quality and lower cost. That future is far away, but I dream big.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
My lead magnet has helped me get 1,000+ emails in one month.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
I am so grateful for the opportunity to improve the lives of others. It is the reason I went into medicine and it is the reason I created the MCAT course.I get emotional every time a student tells me the impact this course has had in their education and how they are so appreciative that this resource is available for them. - Victor Cohen Click To Tweet
I also have gained confidence because I now have concrete evidence that I have value and that people want to hear what I have to say.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
Since I offer financial assistance, I have had many students write to me describing their adversity and telling me how grateful they are. One of my students from Puerto Rico just lost her house due to the recent hurricane. Another student told me how both her parents lost their jobs due to COVID and are now being evicted.
I have many more stories of students going through extreme hardship who all share a common goal of wanting to become doctors. They want to live a better life and create a better life for others. My students are powerful. Many are going through so much while studying for one of the most difficult exams of their lives.
The appreciation and heartwarming messages from them have made everything I have done and worked for so worth it.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
My biggest advice for course creators: Follow the 80 / 20 rule. This rule does not apply to everything, but it does apply to courses. The rule says that 80 percent of the work takes 20 percent of the time. The last 20 percent of the work takes 80 percent of the time.
My recommendation is to just start, do your best at getting the script for your first video 80% of your maximum ability. Then stop and move on to the next script. Make it 80% to the best of your ability. Your 80% will keep improving as you keep writing more scripts. Soon your 80% will be way higher than you 100% ever could have been when you were just starting out. Once you finish writing all your scripts, correct the first few scripts to make them 80% of your new maximum ability.
Do not go further than 80% because there is an opportunity cost – your time could be better spent doing something else. Then, keep this up for your PowerPoints, illustrations, acting, marketing, or whatever part of your course creation process you are in.
Get to 80% and move on. In the end, your skill will follow a logarithmic curve, so your improvement will be very significant at first then less significant with more practice.
Correcting the first few videos may be necessary, but after the fourth video, your 80% will not be as significantly different compared to your 100th.