Start Your Online School or Membership Site in 10 Easy Steps
There’s a lot of talk on LinkedIn about side hustles. The idea of a side hustle is that you can earn extra income or accumulate assets through some outside work activity — sometimes on nights and weekends away from your day job. The idea is to turn something you love to do into an effortless and natural income-generating activity.
You hear about people making thousands of dollars a month on the side. You see ads promising to give you $100-$200 a day online but make you jump through six telegraph wire hoops to take advantage.
One of the fundamental pain points in online marketing is how to make a successful side-income stream. Sure, there are numerous ways to make extra money: indexing websites with Google, clicking on ads, hard-selling and bugging your friends. But these methods can be tedious and feel like work. We want simple, passive income streams that feel more like a leisurely hobby than work from home.
You’ve come to the right place if you are thinking about starting an online school or membership site. The internet is full of advice (some good… some not so much). I thought it would be helpful to create a step-by-step guide that takes you from zero experience with digital marketing to having a site that brings in actual revenue within 30 days.
This isn’t just about starting an online school. It could be for memberships, coaching or almost anything else.
With the massive growth of online courses, the market in this niche is exploding. In fact, by 2026, the online course market is expected to hit $374.3 billion! That’s a lot of money and opportunity out there for anyone who wants to capitalise on it. Before you read any further, ask yourself….. Do you want to know what successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders use to run their businesses?
Nobody is telling us how to Start Your Online School or Membership Site.
So, here are 10 Steps to a Side Hustle while Employed full-time:
This guide will help you choose the proper subject matter to charge your products and services.
- Take a topic that you could easily talk about for 30 minutes.
- Share your knowledge daily via LinkedIn articles.
- When people have questions, DM or schedule calls with them.
- Listen for common challenges during your calls.
- Make a short video addressing common problems.
- Send the video to the folks you helped on those calls.
- Ask for testimonials in exchange for the video.
- Add the testimonials to your website.
- Charge $50 for your new courses.
- Start charging $250 for calls.
1. Take a Topic that You could Easily Talk about for 30 Minutes
What would you choose to teach if given 30 minutes to prepare for a class? One of the first things you should think about is making a list of possible topics you could talk about in your online course. This might take a while, but as soon as you get that first online class you’re teaching, this list will come in handy.
The best way to start your membership site or service to make money online is to first come up with a topic you could talk about for 30 minutes altogether.
It could be something you know like the back of your hand, or maybe it’s a topic you recently discovered or want to learn more about. But don’t just randomly pick a topic.
It’s essential to have a list of topics that you can quickly prepare if your first foray into online teaching goes amazingly well and the customer requires more classes.
Most teachers will have at least three topics to choose from: beginners, intermediate and advanced. They might also have a practice exercise or handout they can send you in advance of the class to help you get prepared (more on this later in the blog).
2. Share your Knowledge Daily via LinkedIn Articles
The first step to creating daily content for LinkedIn is sharing your expertise.
You must be familiar with LinkedIn by now, but it’s a website not just for professional networking. LinkedIn is a great place to share all you know about and your expertise.
As one of the most popular social networking sites for professionals, you can jump on LinkedIn and start sharing all that you know.
You can start by answering questions on LinkedIn Groups. If you have a unique answer, start sharing it with people in the same group using the LinkedIn Answers platform.
You can also reserve one hour in your day to write an article to share on LinkedIn blogs. Every day, people share thousands of articles on LinkedIn using the content sharing tool.
If you have the knowledge to share with others, write an article about it and share it with them.
LinkedIn is the most valuable social networking platform for professional SEO. It’s a free method of promoting your content and sharing it with other professionals.
You can write at least two articles of 500–600 words daily. This totals 1,200–1,800 words a day!
3. When People have Questions, DM or Schedule Calls with them
The best way to promote your products, services or website is to answer people’s questions every day on social media. People will reach out to you because they like your content (or they’ll be interested in what it can do for them).
Either way, you get to show off your expertise and willingness to help in a very personable manner. Start by finding questions that haven’t been answered yet and DM the person who asked the questions.
Imagine that everyone who reaches out to you on social media is your potential customer. What would you do? Well, if you’d be like me, then you’d try to interact with as many people as possible and answer their questions.
That’s what I did initially; sooner or later, I caught my name on the net of social media, which led to a growth of followers. Today, when I look back at it, answering questions from my customers/visitors has been one of the most substantial traffic sources.
If the answer is a bit complicated or needs more explanation and time, then schedule a call with the person.
4. Listen for Common Challenges during your Calls
There are times that you can hear your contacts in the background. For example, if there is ever a loud crash in the background or something crashes at their end. But is it possible to listen to a conversation and determine what challenges they are currently experiencing?
During your call, listen for any hints of frustration. If there is a common challenge, approach it to address the issue. Or, if you can’t help with a specific challenge, listen and note that down for follow-up after the call.
Keep a note of all such questions or points of frustration people face regularly.
These conversations happen all the time. You hear the same challenges over and over again. So, I recommend keeping a notepad nearby while you listen to calls. Write down your observations and suggestions regarding what you’re hearing from customers.
This works like your own private survey to understand the market and its needs.
5. Make a Short Video Addressing Common Problems
If you’re always talking to your prospects and clients, it’s because they are calling you. Or they are sending emails.
Whether it’s a headache they have with a specific project or confusion about how something should work, customers are always reaching out to companies that have more profound subject matter expertise than them (chances are it’s you!). Do you find that there is a lot they want to get off their chest during some of your customer calls, i.e., things they legitimately need help with? I’m sure you do. I know that I do.
Perhaps they are visiting your blog, website or Facebook page, etc. It is all a good thing because it indicates a market for your offerings.
In the meantime, I am sure you’re having regular calls with your people about their challenges. And you are very aware of those solutions. Also, I do not doubt that you know what products to sell them once you hear about their needs on a call. (If not…you need some research).
Make a quick video addressing the most common issues you have come across.
6. Send the Video to the Folks you Helped on those Calls
In your practice of call mentoring, there are always common challenges you meet. The short video you created will help you keep track of those challenges. Sending the corresponding video product to the people you helped during calls can generate more leads.
This will help build trust and a long term customer relationship.
You have to send the first few videos for free to show your subject matter expertise. These videos will show you trustworthiness, and the knowledge you share in the future is worth your buck.
7. Ask for Testimonials in Exchange for the Video
Did you help someone recently?
Yes, you did. The video you sent out for free has helped all the folks that received it.
Ask them for a testimonial.
Testimonials capture all the best parts of a conversation and make your job easier to put them on your website. That’s why people ask for them.
Testimonials are a great way to show how committed you are to making your customer happy. Give people the chance to say what they think and give their honest feedback.
Use testimonials on your website and help others do the same.
You can collect these testimonials via email or make a survey that will help you accumulate them in one place.
“Thanks so much for being a customer. I appreciate it. Would you be willing to share your experience with my company? It’ll only take a minute and would mean a lot to us. Please reply via email, and we can talk about where I can send you a copy of the survey to fill out.”
Send them a quick text or email, something like the one above, to assess you in collecting testimonials.
Use email automation to collect more testimonials.
8. Add the Testimonials to your Website
Testimonials are kind of like Yelp Reviews, except they are on your website. They’re short and appealing, and they can make a HUGE impact on potential customers by showing them what current customers think of your business.
Here’s the thing. Not good enough! Add these testimonials on the landing page where new customers come. Don’t make them hunt for it. Businesses will often put their testimonials on the “About Us” page or the separate Testimonials page…
Testimonials can increase conversion rates by as much as 13%.
9. Charge $50 for your New Courses
Don’t have a course? You do have a course idea by now.
The short video you gave away for “free” is your course idea.
Create an in-depth video course on the same topic.
Charge $50 for your course.
A recent survey of online course pricing showed that the median cost charged by online course creators was $49.
Not sure why it is, but I feel this is an almost universally attractive price to offer your courses at — only 1% of courses surveyed charged more, and 5% less (discounts possibly?).
Whether this is because $49 sounds like a perfect coupon code, the halfway point between $49 and $99, or something else entirely, let’s take advantage and make this the price we charge for our new courses.
10. Start Charging $250 for Calls
You’re likely charging your clients too little, and you want to charge more for your calls. But, if you’re going to charge $250 for calls, you need to sell yourself properly first.
To market yourself correctly, just follow the steps mentioned above, and you will have a list of potential clients that will set up calls with you.
We at TeachEdison get a lot of responses to our content on social media. That’s very cool, thanks for that!
And quite a few want to work with us. That’s also really cool, and I like working with my readers. But it’s not suitable for everyone — and it isn’t — we all have to draw the line somewhere.
Initially, we started discussions with anyone and everyone who wanted to build their products with us. We ended up spending months but with poor conversions as many of them didn’t have the proper budget, or they simply weren’t serious about it.
So, to cut down on client acquisition time dramatically, we started charging USD 4000 approximately for calls. The response has already been fantastic. We’ve had to stop responding to requests because of time restraints (although it was pretty fun while it lasted).
Charging USD 4000 for at least 8–10 weeks of product design consultations has been a life-changing step for our business. So, at the end of the 8–10 weeks exercise, they get a product design with software requirements laid out beautifully with timelines and estimates.
Charging product design consultation fees helped us filter the wrong leads. This leads to us spending more time with prospective clients hence delivering more value to our clients.
So we had built trust during our 8–10 weeks of product design consultations period, and now it’s only the software that needs to be made.
We recently completed a free webinar where our audience had the option of requesting a call with us, and 79 people signed up in just 1 day.
The key to making a successful membership site is identifying your ideal client and then creating small actionable items for them using what you know about that perfect client. That’s the first and most crucial step. If you keep following this method for each item, you will create a recipe for success.
You now have a sustainable, passive income stream bringing anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 a month. Many of these sites have pricing available via monthly payments (monthly memberships or pay-per-video), so the income is recurring and very consistent.
If you follow the 10 steps mentioned above, you will have a simple coaching call worth $250 and a digital video product worth $50.
Here are some key things to remember:
- Make the product your low-end item.
- Make the coaching call your high-end item.
- Use email automation to collect more testimonials.
- If people can’t spend $250, direct them to the product.
Starting an online school or membership site can be challenging and rewarding. That’s why we chose to help out with 10 steps to getting started with your new online school or membership site. If you find yourself wondering how to get started and build an effective membership site, hopefully, these steps will provide you with some insight and guidance that you can use.
If you’ve never run a business or website before, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tasks and responsibilities involved. We can help you overcome that feeling and get started with your online school or membership site.
This will take you from a hesitant freelancer to a confident agent in minutes if you follow this guide.
From those steps, it may look complicated — but it’s not. You can do it.
Originally published on edisonos.com