- Who: Yoann Bierling
- Website: ybierling.com and New Simple as Possible ERP
- Course Topic: SAP
- Interesting Stats: Created 9 online courses
Who are you and what course have you created?
I'm an International business optimization consultant. Having worked for a while as a SAP ERP consultant, I had the opportunity to train project members and clients, as a corporate trainer or Business Process Owner. So far, I have created 9 online courses:
- Operational Procurement in S/4HANA (English)
- Operational Procurement in S/4HANA (French)
- Introduction to SAP Ariba (English)
- Introduction to SAP Ariba (French)
- S/4HANA Materials Management Introduction (English)
- S/4HANA Materials Management Introduction (French)
- Buying on Ariba Discovery (English)
- Buying on Ariba Discovery (French)
- Selling on Ariba Discovery (English)
What market does your online course serve?
My online courses are designed for adult professionals that are looking at expanding their Supply Chain Management skills. And to eventually go as far as getting a professional certification. This to get better jobs, land a promotion, or better understand and manage their businesses and projects.
In general, they are designed for people involved in logistics. People who want to know the industry best practices to use them in their daily business and know how to apply them in their SAP ERP system.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
By taking one of my courses you will reach knowledge that is usually only accessible through professional $1000+/day training. You can usually only get this from your company once already on the job.
You will get a clear and simplified understanding of the concepts behind operational procurement, plan-buy-pay processes, materials management, and general Supply Chain Management optimization. All with courses that you can follow at your own pace, and from wherever you want.
How did you get into the market?
Until somebody tells you how the wheel works, you probably didn’t get it. That is the case for most concepts in life! I have personally been properly and professionally trained through private internal channels when working for corporations. And, years later, with experience, got the opportunity to teach my clients and new colleagues these necessary concepts. Concepts that are usually not accessible except corporate training. Therefore, after having left the corporate world, having reached the top of my corporate goals, I decided to help others get the same opportunities as I did. So I became a business optimization consultant. And eventually, an international digital nomad, by creating content accessible online that organizes and simplifies this knowledge.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
Before creating online courses, I was only creating content on my websites. This content answered common questions that I have been asking myself on the job or got asked by students while working as a corporate teacher. Upon seeing my content, an online school found me and asked me to create online courses on their platforms. They would take care of the most tedious tasks, material design, and finding students, and I could focus on creating course content. I tried it out, liked it… and kept going!
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
The most difficult part, from my point of view, is to create the course training material. I had to put together a presentation and make it visually attractive. Recording lessons and showing by doing is the easy part for me. But I always struggle with setting up the course material. This is why it's crucial in my case to have a third party that supports me on that matter.
Also, before publishing each course, I always have the same doubt. And that is, why would anyone pay for this knowledge that seems so trivial to me? Am I qualified to show it around? And will my course really bring an added value to someone?
But the answer is simple: while I simply ask for $100 now to give the same knowledge, I was previously invoiced $1500 a day to clients. The only reason I doubt is that I am already an expert in that field, and everything I teach seems like the wheel to me. It is so obvious, I do not even see why someone would need to learn what a wheel is. But, before someone had shown them how it works, they had no idea! Someone has to, and I’m glad that can be me.
What's your online course like?
All my courses are organized the same way: I initially create a PowerPoint presentation, with an introduction section, a summary section at the end, and lessons in between, generally around 5 to 10 slides per lesson.
When the presentation has been reviewed and visually improved, I record each lesson separately. In the video, with my audio explanations on top, going through the slides for theory, or recording system used for practice lessons.
When I upload the video lessons individually, the presentation also includes a downloadable PDF at the end. Then I create a quiz at the end of each course section. One section typically contains one or a few lessons, each quiz consisting of 2 to 5 questions.
The quizzes are generally the most interesting part to students according to the feedback I get, as it changes the course from a simple watch and learn to an interactive game in which they have to think for themselves.
How long did it take you to create your course?
While my first course took me about 4 days to create, it now takes me an average of 2 days to create one course. About half a day of topic research, half a day to put together the presentation, half a day to record video, and audio (after having received a reviewed presentation), and half a day to review recordings and upload them on the system.
The most difficult, for the first course, is to find a template that works for you, not only in terms of visual presentation but mostly in terms of course organization.
What I did for my first course, and that I now like to do, is to organize one course around one concept, that I summarize in a chart of my own creation and decompose it into sub-processes. Each process is a course section, each section consists of one or two theoretical lessons and one practical demonstration, each individual lesson lasts between 5 to 10 minutes.
Keeping each lesson short makes it easier for everyone. Students can easily skip a lesson they are not interested in, or already know or have already seen, and can easily navigate between them. They are easier to organize in the system and to create corresponding quizzes. And it is easier to record them, as the lessons are shorter. This means whenever something happens during the recording, such as a siren passing in the street or making an error while recording, it's easier to re-record it.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).
The great thing about using a specialized platform is that they already have private students interested in getting specific individual courses, and corporations getting global yearly subscriptions to their employees. Therefore, even before getting my first direct course sale, I was already getting students enrolling and rating my course through their yearly subscriptions, from which I got a share proportional to my course content. It made it easier to find direct sales by already having students' reviews, than starting alone from scratch.
Do you have a lead magnet?
As each course contains an introduction lesson, I always make this introductory video available as a free course preview, so potential course subscribers can have a peek at my way of teaching, the course content, and learning objectives.
What's the traffic strategy that works best for you?The best way to attract students is to take one slide from the course’s PowerPoint presentation out, preferably a simple slide with one custom illustration or chart, and write a blog post explaining that chart or processes relative… Click To Tweet
Doing so opens the door for a whole range of new visitors to learn a little bit about the topic and make them hungry to go deeper into the subject, which is possible by enrolling in the course.
Ideally, expanding reach to business owners or corporate training would be the best way to get them to not only subscribe themselves to an individual course but to get a whole company to educate themselves in the topics of the course and the associated ones from other courses available on the platform. The best way to have a chance of getting there, is to hook them up with a blog post answering questions they might have on the topic, without necessarily looking for a course on the field yet!
What online course platform are you using?
I am publishing my courses on Michael Management's online learning platform, and while they mostly publish courses related to SAP, they also publish some courses for related business skills, such as project management, Excel use, or other business productivity themes.
Anyone with a bit of experience can start teaching with them by creating online courses on their platform. They are easy to work with and support course creators at all stages. They provide the PowerPoint template, will review, and improve it, help figure how to record courses properly, and have all the necessary documentation and human support needed to start creating courses.
On top of that, they take care of marketing the courses, so you do not even have to find your own students to get a share of the global subscriptions they are selling. There is no cost, except the time and involvement necessary to create a course, and only passive earnings over time!
If you feel like that is for you, simply get in touch with them and become an online instructor yourself.
Do you like it?
The best part about it is that there is a real human interaction a real team of humans behind it, not simply a technical support form. I did meet the company’s CEO in New York while I was on a world tour, joined several of their Zoom video calls with the team and other instructors, and got in touch through LinkedIn with them. It sure fits me better than being alone all the way, and it is worth having a bit less control over the courses, but also having much less to do so I can spend more time creating content.
Are there any features you wish it had?
The only thing missing on their platform is the possibility to create courses in all languages. It is also impossible to share revenue among instructors. With some of them, we would like to co-create courses or to share courses.
That way I could localize their courses from English to French for example. Or let other instructors localize my courses in their languages besides English and French. However, since there is no current way to share revenues, we do not collaborate between instructors beyond sharing courses with our networks.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I have been considering creating my own school. But although I could get a higher revenue share on my courses, and get a revenue share on other instructors courses, it would take so much work to set it up, create more courses, find other instructors, and especially to find students from scratch, that I do not plan on leaving them. On the contrary, I plan on creating more courses on that platform, which I now know how to use.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
I do not sell my course elsewhere, but by becoming an affiliate on the course’s platform, I get a revenue share by writing articles on my website about any course, not only mine, and include my affiliate links there. While it takes on average two days to create a one-hour course, it only takes a few hours to write a blog post about a subject that might be covered by another course. As I might benefit from people subscribing to a yearly package on the platform and enrolling in my own courses that way, we all benefit from that extra publicity!
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
The training programs offered by the platform helped me a lot in the beginning. Originally, I had no idea which tools to use to record lessons, and how to do it properly. I had led in-person week-long personalized training, but creating an online course that anyone can take is a totally different story! Therefore, before creating my first course, I probably spent a day reading blogs and instructions to set up my own course creation and recording environment.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
The worst thing anyone can do when it comes to starting a business is to doubt and wait to start or wait to create more!While not everything will work, there is one sure thing: doubting and doing nothing has zero chance to ever work. - Yoann Bierling Click To Tweet
Looking back, I should have created more courses, earlier. I should have had in mind a whole school creation goal instead of a simple side gig course creation in the “I’ll do more when I have time” state of mind. I could surely have set more time aside for that purpose, now that I think about it.
Please share some idea of revenue.
On average, each course I created took me 2 days to create. They would bring me $1000 in revenues over the course of two years on the platform. All in perspective, it is like earning $500 per day of work, not a bad number at all. It keeps earning me money even if I stop working, making it a far better time investment than looking for a job or a freelance gig!
I had close to 400 students that enrolled in my 3 courses, each available in both English and French. So, if you want to transpose to monthly numbers, it is about 15 students per month bringing me $250 of revenue on average.
Please tell us a little about what the money you've earned from your course has done for you.
While my course earnings did not support my living as a digital nomad, it did support the costs of my online publishing business. It allowed me to keep investing in the infrastructure needed to create more online content and hire writers to create content and support affiliate earnings.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
When I started creating online courses, I had about 50k monthly visitors on my websites. Overall, I was earning less than $200 in monthly passive earnings. Online course creation has never been my main source of income. But it has supported my online business expansion to more than 300 unique visitors per month on my websites, and around $2000 in monthly earnings.
This is the budget I had for my year-long world tour. It was the goal I was targeting before the current situation kicked-in. I earn enough passively from my online ventures to travel full time around the world. I've switched from a corporate digital nomad in the past, to a self-employed digital nomad lately, to become a retired digital nomad now!
However, as I love what I’m doing and love helping others, I would never stop what I’m doing. But I have less to worry about now and can spend my time as I please, which is a lifelong dream.
What has creating your course done for you personally?
Creating courses had the unplanned effect of having something my parents could be proud of and something my family can talk about. Not many people understand what a digital nomad is, nor what affiliate marketing means. Letting them brag about how their son is a location-free online teacher is a small accomplishment I like the most.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
One of my former corporate clients got laid off not so long ago. Having seen my online course, he reached out to me to get a professional certification from the online school I am creating courses for. He registered, enrolled in as many courses as possible while being unemployed. Now he has a better job than before. And that allows him to have the personal life he wants. My only wish is to have more contacts reaching their own personal goals, and if my courses can help, that is even better!
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
The more you hesitate, the more you will regret what you did!Instead of hesitating, start creating. - Yoann Bierling Click To Tweet
What I recommend is to think deeply about the money you must invest. For example, choosing the right course platform can have a huge impact.
In my experience as an online publisher, I would advise anyone creating a digital business to invest time in content creation. Then invest money in technical setup. If you do the inverse, you are probably losing both unnecessarily. The content you have created, if created right, will always be valuable.
The technical setup can always be changed, simply make sure that it is the case before signing any contract. Meanwhile, we all have free time, we all have the knowledge, and we can all use our time to help others getting access to it!