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Shane Melaugh – Course Craft
Do you want to create an online business that gives you income and freedom?
A business that you can be proud of, that gives you satisfaction and brings value to the world?
Then this message is for you.
I’m Shane Melaugh, the CEO of Thrive Themes
I’ve created and launched several 6- and 7-figure businesses over the last 10 years, from scratch, on a shoestring budget.
I’m going to reveal to you what is hands down the best online business model for creating income and personal freedom, in 2019 and beyond:
Creating and selling online courses.
If you want a real, value-based, sustainable business – if you want to escape the frustrations of chasing from one online marketing fad to the next – then creating an online course is the way to go.
In fact, let’s get more specific: I want to show you how you can create an online course that sells for $200… and sell on average, 1 of them per day.
You can sell 1 thing per day, right? It’s doable. It doesn’t require a massive audience or floods of traffic.
That’s the beauty of selling an online course at this price point. It’s the sweet spot. And it’s something you can do, even in a tiny niche and still be successful.
If that thing you sell is a $200 course that you created yourself and that you’re selling on your own platform (no predatory fees from 3rd-party platforms involved) then that 1 sale per day becomes your ticket to freedom.
Why is a Software Guy Talking About Online Courses?
It may surprise you to hear me say that online courses are the ultimate online business model. After all, I’m best known for founding Thrive Themes – a software company.
But here’s the thing: Thrive Themes would have never happened if I didn’t have experience selling online courses, first. I sold online courses to make the money that I used to launch Thrive Themes. I built up my marketing and sales experience through my online course business. Without that, Thrive Themes would have been a guaranteed failure.
And even today, a software business represents far more blood, sweat, tears and complications per $ earned than an online course business.
Unless you’re a veteran of online marketing, I don’t recommend starting a software business.
Speaking of which: most online entrepreneurs keep making the same mistakes…
Stop Working Your Butt Off for Pennies…
We all get into this online marketing game because we want to escape the 9-to-5 and gain freedom for ourselves, right?
But how come so many of us end up chasing one fad after another? Constantly following the next bright shiny object, the next “opportunity”. The next promise of a shortcut to easy money.
It’s okay to admit it, we’re all guilty of doing this.
The reality of those “opportunities” isn’t so glorious, is it?
The truth is that we always end up working our butts off for pennies.
For example: we spend time churning out keyword optimized articles to try and grow our niche sites. We hope to get some traffic, so we can get some clicks on our ads… only to earn something like $0.14 for a click?
Or what about referring sales to Amazon, building out review sites, using all kinds of plugins and tools… to earn 6% on the sale of a toothbrush and some toilet paper?!
Or maybe we’re spamming cheaply generated Kindle books all over Amazon for $2 a pop… or drop-shipping some stuff from a Chinese factory via FBA, competing against the 327 other people trying to sell the same product, in the same category, made by the same factory…
Or maybe do all this work to build an audience and a blog and get some traffic and build a mailing list and then… recommend some affiliate product for maybe $20-$50 per sale.
I don’t know about you, but I feel exhausted just from typing that out.
And it gets worse…
The “Easy” Opportunities Turn Out to Be Hard AND Risky!
Look, everything I described above: that was me, at one point. I figured out how to game the system. I knew how to get traffic, how to get clicks, how to send people off through ads and links and make some money.
Quite a lot of money, at one point.
But eventually, I lost most of my sites and earnings in a Google Slap™… and really, I wasn’t sad about it. I’m glad those websites don’t exist anymore. Because they were trash. There was nothing about them I could be proud of. If anything, I feel like apologizing to people who found my sites when searching for answers, instead of a real, trustworthy source.
And think of how much of this “anything to make money” crap is out there. YouTubers desperately stirring up drama and controversy and doing awful fake “pranks”, just to get views. “Influencers” showing off their (fake) lifestyles and posing with brand products to make some cash. Has anyone ever gotten an ounce of real value from scrolling past this vapid stuff?
And trust me, I’m not being holier-than-thou, here. I created shallow, just-for-the-money, valueless content as well, at one point.
What It Feels Like to Finally Do Something REAL
Luckily, I also decided to try my hand at creating ebooks and online courses. I put my knowledge out there, packaged it up as a product and made it available for sale.
And let me tell you: the difference between selling online courses and other business models I’d tried was like night and day!
I quickly learnt that it’s WAY easier to sell your own product to your audience than to get ad clicks or sell someone else’s product (as an affiliate). I was making more money, pretty much right away.
But not only that: I got to know my customers. They actually liked me and thanked me for the product I’d created! They told me about how they learnt something new and useful and how it made a difference for them. AND… they wanted me to create more products – they wanted to learn more from me.
They were literally asking me for more opportunities to buy things from me.That is a FAR CRY from “tricking” people into clicking on ads on my crappy niche sites.
I never looked back. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was create valuable products for people. I sold online courses and later SaaS and WordPress software products. But the principle was always the same:
Create something of real value and sell it to people for whom it makes a positive difference.
It’s an honest, fair value exchange. And I love it!
And don’t just take my word for it. I’m not the only one who thinks online courses are the best.
But maybe this isn’t news to you. Maybe, right now, you’re thinking:
“Shane, I’m trying to do what you’re describing. I’m creating real value, trying to sell my expertise… and it’s not working.”
Maybe you’ve been reading so far and rolling your eyes. “Tell me something I don’t know yet.”
Maybe you’ve been creating real value already. You insist on only creating original, useful content. Maybe you’re already selling your expertise in some form like ebooks, coaching, online courses… and you’re still struggling to get anywhere.
Many coaches also have the “chasing pennies” problem because they undervalue themselves and end up working too much, for little reward. You leave your job only to find yourself on a different exchanging-hours-for-dollars treadmill.
Maybe you feel like what you do as a coach has to be done in person. You can’t translate that into a course. You’re right: coaching isn’t the same as a course. But the knowledge and expertise you have as a coach can be turned into a useful, valuable online course.
Don’t know how to do that? Well, what if you had an exact system for turning knowledge into a course?
That’s what you get with the Course Craft system!
Tried Your Hand at Information Products Already?
Simply creating an online course doesn’t magically lead to success, of course. There are thousands of course creators on platforms like Udemy who struggle to make more than a pittance.
What I’m talking about here isn’t just the principle of turning your expertise into a business and income stream. It’s not even just about creating online courses.
It’s creating online courses based on a very specific formula. One that involves “The 3 Pillars” I’ll describe below. And one that has built in “value leverage”, so you can sell your course for $200 on your own platform (instead of $19 on Udemy, for example).
I’ve developed a blueprint process which melds marketing and course creation. This is the key difference: you don’t just create a course and hope for the best. That’s never going to work. But if you understand your target market, build a highly marketable course and then set up some automated selling systems, you’ve got a winner.
Read on to discover the components of my online course success formula.
Why Online Courses AreTHE BEST Business Model
Okay, so online courses are a way to take your knowledge and expertise and turn it into something valuable. That’s a great thing to do, highly profitable and highly satisfying. But that’s not the only advantage to this business model.
Here’s why else creating online courses kicks absolute ass:
The Suitcase Business
Following my online course formula results in a business that literally fits into a single suitcase. This is a business you can fully run from a laptop. You don’t need office space, you aren’t tied to a specific location. And because the course is delivered online and available to your customers 24/7 you can make your own hours and take time off.
That means: lower costs, fewer complications and most importantly… freedom.
The Shoestring Budget Business
I LOVE bootstrapping. Meaning: starting up a business at minimal cost. And keeping my risk at a minimum. Online courses are fantastic for this. You can create a valuable, professionally presented and overall awesome online course on a shoestring budget.
And you can scale to 6 figures before you have to spend anything more than a few hundred dollars on it.
The Highly Scalable Business
An online course business is so scalable and SO profitable. What I mean is: once the course is created, selling 1,000 or 10,000 copies of it costs only marginally more than selling 1 copy of it. Online courses can be turned into an awesome income source without weighing you down with overhead costs and cumbersome processes.
The Little Known“Marketing Skills” Effect
Marketing skills – especially online marketing skills – are extremely valuable. I can’t tell you how many people want to hire me as a copywriter, marketer or coach, once they find out I know how to do actual, performance-focused marketing. Well, here’s the thing: selling your own online course is deep, intense, real-world marketing. You will learn more about practical online marketing in 3 months of working on your online course than you do in 3 years of reading marketing blogs and books. It’s learning-by-doing to the max!
The Better Known Learning-by-Teaching Effect
Your online course is going to be about a topic you are interested in – even passionate about. It’s you, turning your knowledge into a product. But in the course of doing that, you also increase your knowledge. You deepen your learning and insight by the very process of teaching. In other words, if you’re an expert, creating an online course makes you more of an expert. If you’re an amateur, creating an online course turns you into an expert.
The Authority Effect
Think about any recognizable authority in any niche, any market, any topic. You don’t need a magic 8 ball to guess that they’ve published at least one book.
An online course is not a book, but it has much of the same effect: people see you as an authority, when you’ve created a product. And this authority pays dividends in more ways than you’d expect. You won’t believe how much easier that makes it to get interviewed for shows, appear as a guest on podcasts, get invited to give talks at events…
The Online Course Business is Awesome… Unless…
So, online courses are probably the most awesome, bootstrappable, freedom-lifestyle business model available. But that doesn’t mean creating just any old course is a sure-fire ticket to success.
Of course you can easily find people who’ve tried their hands at building an online course business and came out bitterly disappointed.
That’s because, quite frankly, most entrepreneurs who try this are going about it dead wrong and ass-backwards.
Let me break it down for you – let’s look at the typical mistakes that lead to online course business failure.
The Tech Troubles
An online course business has many moving parts. When you start getting into it, you quickly find more questions than answers.
How do I get paid and how do I give my customers access?
Do I need a membership plugin or system? Which one?
Which shopping cart system or plugin do I use?
How do I deliver my course?
How can I make my course content look good and make it easy to navigate?
How do I stop people from just downloading my course and sharing it on black hat forums?
How do I build a mailing list and automatically add my customers to it?
How do I connect my shopping cart to my mailing list service?
It’s an endless rabbit hole of trying to make stuff work and uncovering 2 problems every time you solve 1.
The Platform Trap
Okay, let’s avoid the tech problems completely. That’s what online platforms like Udemy are for, right?
Unfortunately, while it is easier to start on a platform, once you’re in, you quickly realize that it’s a trap.
Platforms generally come in 2 different flavours: the marketplace and the “tech only” platform.
The marketplace is Udemy and anything like it. You get to create your course on someone else’s platform and all the payment processing, content restriction, course delivery and so on is taken care of. All you need to do is create the content. Sounds great, right?
Trap #1 : The Marketplace
As it turns out, one of the most common concerns for sellers on Udemy is: how do I get off of Udemy?
Why is that?
Because Udemy keeps most of the money made from sales that you don’t personally and directly refer. Theoretically, the Udemy marketplace is a great advantage for sellers. The marketing is supposed to be “built in” and you get access to millions of users.
But in reality, only the top 1% of sellers really benefit from that. For the rest, it’s a battle to try and stand out in a marketplace flooded with products, all sold at dumping-prices. And what choice do you have but compete on price? After all everyone’s course looks the same, everyone’s sales page looks the same. And worst of all: other courses are being advertised as alternatives whenever someone looks at your course’s sales page!
And speaking of prices: on Udemy, you don’t have much control over the price of your course. Courses typically sell for around $10, no matter how extensive or valuable they are. And Udemy have the right to run discounts and special offers without your consent. You can end up selling 1,000 or more copies of your course without having made much money at all…
Trap #2 : The Hostage Situation
The second flavor of platform is the “tech only” platform. No marketplace. You just get an all-in-one system to host your course on someone else’s platform. You still have to do all the marketing and advertising yourself. But of course, you have to pay a hefty, monthly fee. This can quickly cause a problem, especially if you aren’t getting sales right away. And inevitably, by having your course on a 3rd-party platform, you’ll often find that you want to do something and the answer is: sorry, we can’t do that. You can’t install a plugin to fix it, you can’t hire someone to custom-code a solution for you. You’re simply stuck. On a platform. That’s costing you $100/month or more. Oh, and if you stop paying, your course, your customers, everything you’ve built – it all disappears from one moment to the next. It’s like they’re holding your work hostage.
See, I’m calling it a trap, because it is, in fact, a trap.
The Greedy Money Grab
Some online marketing types look at the e-learning market and think: “this is a great opportunity to make a quick buck!”
They throw together some half-assed, unoriginal content and then spend all of their time creating overly hyped, promise-the-world sales copy and marketing material. They try to trick people into giving them as much money as possible, for a shallow, useless product.
This might even work out. Once.
But then, instead of having laid the foundation of a strong, long-term business, they find that the bridges have been burned and they have to find some other loophole to try and squeeze money out of.
A valuable online course is such an amazing business because your customers are hungry to learn. When they find a good teacher, they want more. There’s no faster way to build a loyal fan-base than to create high quality products.
Thinking “all marketing, no substance” doesn’t lead to e-learning business success.
The “Diamond in the Rough” Course
Creating a course thinking only about the content that you — the expert — think people ought to learn is the exact opposite of the previous problem. It’s the equivalent of a boring, rambling lecture by a professor. A professor who’s surely brilliant – if we could only understand anything they’re saying.
To create a successful online course, you need to understand how people think, what they want and what they need. You need to address their issues, concerns and fears and you need to build some marketing into your products.
This is a crucial lesson for creators and experts: you have to build a product that people will want to buy, not just a product that contains a lot of information.
People don’t want information, they want solutions. And that’s why thinking “all substance, no marketing” is also a recipe for failure.
With Course Craft the Winning Formula is Finally Revealed
With Course Craft, I’m teaching my entire system for creating and marketing online courses successfully.
That means we cover everything you need to get it right and avoid all of the pitfalls listed above. We cover all 3 pillars:
1. The Complete Tech Stack
Everything you need to create, deliver, sell and protect your online course, on your own platform that you control, without needing to hire any developers.
2. The Magnetic Course Creation Plan
Everything you need to find and validate the perfect product idea and how to turn your knowledge into a practical, highly valuable online course.
3. The Magnetic Marketing Funnel
Everything you need to pre-launch your product, create a successful product launch, create upsells and other revenue engines, recruit affiliates to promote your product for you and set up the system you need to sell 1 copy per day of your $200 course.
This is not a half baked course. We don’t explain how to create a course and then leave you high-and-dry when it comes to delivering or marketing that course. This is the entire, workable system that I have used over and over again, to sell online courses successfully.
I’ll tell you more about exactly what you’ll get, but first let me be clear about some things…
What Course Craft is NOT…
I want to set the right expectations, here. Course Craft is not what you expect from your typical, average online course.
Course Craft is Not a Passive“Information Download”
This course is not about just sitting back, learning a bunch of theory and then doing nothing with it. This is an implementation-focused course. The purpose isn’t to download a bunch of information, it’s to guide you through a system of exercises and actions to take, that lead you to the result
Don’t sign up for this if you don’t want to do the real work. This product is not for “info product tourists”.
Course Craft is Not a Quick Cash Grab System
As you’ve probably guessed by now, this is not about exploiting some “opportunity” to make money with as little work as possible. It’s not about throwing together some crappy copy-pasted content into a pretend “product” and then tricking people into buying it. If you aren’t excited about creating a real, valuable, high-quality product, then Course Craft isn’t for you.
Course Craft is Not Just About Creating a Course
Creating an online course, in isolation, is a waste of time. If you only focus on “how do I structure a bunch of lessons into a course?” and “how do I take payments and deliver the course?” – you end up with a course, yes. But you also end up with a problem: no one will buy your course. Course Craft is about building a marketable, sellable course and then actually selling it.
The Online Course Success Formula: Marketing + Course Creation + Marketing
Yep, that’s right. Marketing is in there twice. That’s how important it is.
If all you do is the “course creation” part, you’re making an age old mistake of thinking “build it and they will come”. You’ll build your course, open it for sale and then… crickets.
Here’s why the formula is
You need to start with “Marketing”, because you need to understand your market and your future customers. You have to have a real understanding of what makes a marketable product. Something that people actually want to buy. And you need to build our entire course with that in mind, from day 1.
Then, you need the “Course Creation” part to ensure you actually solve the problems you identified in your market and that you don’t just create any solution, but a high-value, practical, actionable solution that is well presented.
Then, you need the second “Marketing” part to launch your product, using a proven system that uses ongoing, evergreen marketing so you’re not just sitting there, twiddling your thumbs and hoping that you’ll be blessed with sales from out of the blue.
This is what a magnetically sellable course is about: it has marketing and sellability “baked in” – which makes all the marketing you do for it 100x easier. And at the same time, it’s a high-quality, value delivering product that helps people achieve the result they want.
What You Get When You Sign Up for Course Craft Today
Course Craft is an online course consisting of video lessons, worksheets and exercises. The course contains step-by-step, proven, no-nonsense advice to walk you through my entire process for going from zero to a $200 product that sells an average of once per day.
The course modules include everything you need to know in the 3 key areas of online course success:
The Tech Stuff
Building a High Quality, High Value Course
Launching and Marketing the Course Long Term
Included: the Thrive Apprentice WordPress Plugin ($97 value)
Create beautiful online courses right inside your own WordPress website
To make course delivery a breeze, without having to be locked into an expensive 3rd-party platform, we created a WordPress plugin. We call it Thrive Apprentice and it gives you all the tools you need to create a beautifully presented, well structured online course, right inside your own WordPress website.
We have built and optimized this plugin to be the perfect tool to create and deliver an online course without bogging you down with endless screens of options and settings and without having to deal with expensive and cumbersome membership plugins.
And here’s the kicker: the Thrive Apprentice plugin is included in your purchase of Course Craft. That’s right: you get the course and the software along with it.
What You’ll Discover in the Course Craft Course Modules
1. Get Paid, Give Access
The simplest way to set up a system that gets you paid and gives your customers access to your course, automatically.
2. Pirates Begone
How to make sure only paying customers can access your content & how to protect your content from being illegally downloaded and shared.
3. The Video Lesson Formula
How you can create well produced, professional looking, highly informative video lessons and publish them in your course – without needing expensive software or hardware!
4. Build Your Customer List
Every step to set up your email marketing system and make sure new customers are added to your mailing list, automatically.
5. The Product Idea Filter
Use our system to find a true winner of a product idea – or to refine and improve your own idea for a course, if you already have one.
6. Competition Judo
Learn why it’s actually great to have loads of competition and our Judo system for using all the hard work your competitors have done, to your advantage.
7. The Marketing “Cheat Code”
This method makes finding the perfect idea, getting customers and creating highly persuasive sales copy for your product so easy, it almost feels like cheating.
8. The “Sales Page First” Approach
In Course Craft, we use a system that starts with your sales message. As soon as you put our system into place, you’ll realize how starting with product creation is a recipe for pain, frustration and failure and you’ll wonder why you ever did it otherwise.
9. The EPOC Method for Creating Unique Products
How can you make a product that truly differentiates itself from your competition? How can you stand out from the crowd? How can you create a product that will make your customers love you and ask for more? The EPOC method, that’s how.
10. The 5 Components of High Value Courses
We’ll deconstruct exactly what makes the difference between a $5 course that still feels like a waste of money and a $200 course that feels like a steal. Creating highly valuable, well-presented and truly useful online courses is a matter of using the right system.
11. The Visual Design Shortcut
Typical entrepreneur newbie mistake: worrying about brand design, visuals, logo etc. and wasting endless time and money on it. Using the Visual Design Shortcut in Course Craft, we cut this entire process down to 10 minutes, max. (also: it costs $0)
12. The Online Course Pre-Launch Method
Learn how you can get paid to create your online course first and then start working on the content. This approach will even help you create a better product, than if you create first and sell second.
13. The Stealth/Bootstrap Launch Sequence
Discover the simple way to create a fully fledged, sales-generating product launch sequence – all without needing any special tools and without coming across as salesy or pushy.
14. The Revenue Machine
Discover the 5 components you can add to your online course, to turn it from a lukewarm seller into a reliable, long-term revenue machine.
Bonus The Zero -Audience Product Launch
Want to start building an online course business, but don’t have any mailing list or audience to sell it to yet? Don’t worry, neither did I when I sold my first online course. In the Course Craft system, we’ll cover exactly how you can do a zero-audience product launch and the exact steps to take, to “borrow” other people’s audience for your own course.