You have the idea, the ambition, the know-how. One hurdle stands in your way.
It’s scary to look at, so small. It could vanish before you get a chance to grow it. You have so much to invest in. Tech equipment, marketing, business coaches and conferences...
Where are you supposed to get the cash from? Your bank in the sky? Your golden hen? Your future-self?
Unless you have some magic beans or a time machine, you can’t skip this hurdle so easily. It’s going to take some climbing.
But you don’t need a beanstalk to climb. You can fit your feet between the bricks of the hurdle.
Don’t take it from me. Take it from Nathalie Lussier, who has earned over a million dollars creating and launching online courses. She didn’t buy expensive tools when she first started.
“At the end of the day, people aren’t going to care what tech tool you’re using to run your online course as long as they get the results they signed up for.” (Nathalie Lussier)
You can start your startup on a shoestring. And here’s how.
1. Invest in audience research and analysis
“Research doesn’t have to cost a dime, but it’s still the most important part of any marketing campaign. If you don’t do thorough research first, you’ll never know where to focus your marketing investments, and that’s a recipe for a poor return, whether you’re investing $1,000 or $100,000.” (Sujan Patel)
Every minute, every hour, every day you spend conducting effective audience analysis is worth it. It may seem fruitless when you’ve got a course to create, but it sets you up for success. There’s no point creating your course unless you make it relevant to a specific audience. And you can’t make it relevant until you have a deep understanding of that audience.
But audience research doesn’t have to cost a penny. Just time, dedication and an internet connection.
Open an incognito window in your browser and type in the keywords you want your course to rank for. Check out who’s writing and reading about them. Investigate the influencers in your industry, your competitors’ networks and following to research your audience. What are they reading and commenting on? Pinpoint popular topics and discussions. What kind of language do they use and can you distinguish a sense of humour? What’s trending?
Find out as much as you freely and legally can to build a solid understanding. Then tailor your videos to their interests to ensure maximum impact and success.
2. Decide what you need and what you already have
You might have everything you need to create your online video course already. Video may sound techy and expensive, but it’s really not. Not in this day and age when you can capture decent videos and audio on your smartphone or tablet.
Jon Ochs, entrepreneur and vlogger shoots his videos on an iphone and it doesn’t seem to bother his 12.3 k followers.
You don’t need an HD camera, professional lighting or a studio. Just grab your smartphone, stand next to the window on a sunny day and shoot. Top tip: stand facing the window; otherwise you’re blocking the light. And make sure it’s shut to reduce background noise.
Tripod schmipod. Use a selfie stick!
I’m not saying tripods aren’t a great investment for the future; but for now, it’s not an essential. Instead, wedge your selfie stick somewhere sturdy and position it to face you. Get comfortable. People will notice if you lean to fit on the screen!
Speak loudly and clearly. This way you don’t need to buy fancy audio equipment. It’s much easier to make a clip quieter than it is to increase its volume without it sounding grainy. You can find audio and video editing apps on your smartphone and tablet, or it might be worth investing in Adobe Captivate or ScreenFlow. You can cut, edit, mix and merge multimedia files without having to buy an expensive microphone.
3. Create your website for free
With free content management systems like WordPress and membership plugins like S2Member, you can save your pennies for a rainy day. It’s super quick and easy to build a secure and professional looking website on WordPress. With a huge library of templates and plug-ins to choose from, you can create a unique face for your brand and video course.
4. Better safe than sorry
I can’t stress enough the importance of using decent security software. If you don’t protect your course content, all your profit could miss your pocket and fly straight to pirates. It’s better to invest in an effective shield than to leave your business unarmed.
You can use vzaar’s domain control, brand text, watermarking and encryption settings to protect each and every one of your videos from being downloaded, shared or stolen. For more on vzaar’s video security features, click here.
5. Hone your focus
“One of the quickest ways to go over budget is trying to cover too much subject matter in a single online training course or module. This is why it’s essential to narrow the scope of your online content before you even start the design and development process.” (eLearning Industry)
So you’ve got big dreams. You want to cover everything. For all I know, you’re the next Einstein and you have a world of knowledge you’re aching to share with your subscribers. That’s awesome! But start small.
If you try to teach everything at once, you’ll overwhelm yourself and your subscribers and burn everyone out. You’ll waste time and money creating a massive project with limited resources. You’ll stretch your focus too far and get muddled when you market.
Expert entrepreneur and marketer, David Garland wrote that he grew his seven figure business by doing less, not more. He focused on one method, honed his skills and received more in return.
“Bottom line: Think less. Stay focused. Do the work. And the results will be MORE.” (David Garland)
6. Go Micro
Make your video classes short. You can cover lengthy subjects in a series of micro lessons and according to the Online Video Company, visitors are more likely to watch and stick around for shorter videos. “ Statistics show that people are willing to give video 2.7 minutes of their time.” (Online Video Company)
This means shorter videos will likely give you a higher ROI.
It’s also cheaper and quicker to create shorter videos because you don’t need to spend as much on
production or editing software. Plus you can shoot whenever you have a few minutes to spare. No need to schedule in a big block of filming time.
7. Hold off on the paid advertising
Once you’ve created your course, you’ll need to get it out there.
The bad news: even if it’s the best online video course the world has ever seen, it can’t summon traffic to itself.
The good news: marketing your course doesn’t have to break your budget.
Expert entrepreneur and online course creator, Derek Halpern insists that building an email list is one of the cheapest and most cost-effective ways to communicate with your prospects and customers. All you need is an email signup form on your site, a decent email service provider and a strong grasp of your recipients and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
You can pop an email signup form at the start and end of your videos using the vzaar Mail Catcher. Your viewers can subscribe on impulse and vzaar will automatically connect to your Mailchimp, Aweber or Google Drive, or you can link to another account using API.
Drive people to sign up to your mailing list by creating and keeping an awesome blog or vlog on your website and circulate free content. Build a presence in the same groups and networks as your target audience, participate in discussions, provide valuable advice and make yourself known. Build a professional profile on the social media platforms favourited by your audience and network with top influencers in the industry to reach their followers and gain trust.
This kind of marketing is kinder to your budget and according is also more effective.
“Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising.”(McKinsey)
It’s also cheaper and quicker to create shorter videos because you don’t need to spend as much on production or editing software. Plus you can shoot whenever you have a few minutes to spare. No
I bet your budget doesn’t seem so terrifying now. Once you start making a profit, you can spend all you want on fancy tech and software. But for now, just follow the seven savvy steps above and invest your time and money in the crucial things: securing your videos and website, building your audience and nailing your networking.
Grab your free guide to help you choose the tools you need to create and market your online course (that won’t break your bank).