Len Markidan: How to Create Your Digital Storefront as a Content Creator (#288)
Our Guest Today: Len Markidan
Len Markidan is the CMO of Podia, a platform for creators to sell online courses, downloads, coaching, and community. Previously, he was Head of Marketing for 5 years at Groove. Len’s work has been featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur, and he’s consulted for clients like Prudential, Chegg, Jet.com, Groupon, Healthline and more.
What We Will Cover:
My audience at Feisworld Media are often content creators (authors, podcasters, some YouTubers). Many of them are entrepreneurs who leverage these channels to build their audience and drive awareness and leads to their services. I think the conversation around Podia is so helpful because of the following:
- Many of them are contemplating about creating a course (often their first course) but not sure how to get started
- Some have done entry and/or signature courses and would like to create more and better courses
- Some feel like they didn’t really create the right content, or their existing content isn’t capturing enough attention – many of us fail to test the market first.
- For all the above, many people I know (myself included) still struggle to find the right platform – what the factors should they consider when choosing a platform? People often think about pricing as a determining factor – I get it – but it’s very limiting at the same time
- Long term planning – I’m going through the pain right now to consolidate most of my courses onto Podia, and I have many reasons to say why I want to stick to Podia (email marketing, pre-launch, simple landing page setup, optimized purchase funnel, etc.). Love to hear your thoughts on who Podia is best targeted for
- Because I went with free options first, and stayed in the experimentation phase for so long (Thinkific – 1 course, Teachable – for my existing clients, MemberVault – my other courses), now I have to migrate everything to Podia (and I know you guys offer a free migration service if paid annually, that’s very compelling for a lot of people). I appreciate Podia that much more and we can go into why 🙂
Watch Our Interview
Len Markidan: How to Create Your Digital Storefront as a Content Creator #feisworld #podia – powered by Happy Scribe
I discovered Len well, because I watched an incredible I almost wanted a documentary series, but it’s really a YouTube short series they have on podium to talk about, like, fear of concentration. And basically, Len was working with an entrepreneur and content creator throughout, like, I think, four or five episodes. And that was so that was so intimate. That was super helpful. And this is something after that. I’ve been working as a creative entrepreneur for a little while just to see that, wow, we actually share a lot of the anxiety, fear, doubts, and all those ideas. So I’m here with Lynn, who’s an instructor and entrepreneur, too, and to talk to us how to create our digital storefront and how to really build multiple revenues of incomes, income streams as a creator. So welcome, Lynn. That was a longer introduction.
Thank you so much. I appreciate that. I’m really, really excited to be here, and I’m honored that you got so much out of our series with Walter. For somebody who’s already an accomplished content creator, that’s really great to hear. Thank you.
Yes. Thank you, Len. It really means a lot because, trust me, I’ve gone through I’ve gone down the path of trying to find the perfect digital course platform or product platform for an independent content creator. And that journey was just so long and difficult. And then the next thing you know, all of a sudden, you’re spending money on email marketing, building, landing pages, lead gen forms. I think a lot of my audience who are or will be watching those are very familiar with the budget concerns. And yet Podia, which is your CMO at Podia, and it’s the ultimate platform, frankly, this is not even sponsor content that I found. I’m thrilled. I love the creator, the video content creator on your end, I forgot his name, but he’s so easy to listen to.
And Ben is wonderful.
Oh, my gosh, so welcoming and just makes you feel at ease. It’s very much the opposite of do this, follow the funnel and make money. Triple your income was just like, I understand your fear, and let’s do this together. And you gave me the same impression, really, during your YouTube series, too.
Oh, thank you. Yeah, it’s almost like people prefer not to be yelled at, and yet here we are, where 90% of the content around creating online courses is somebody yelling at you to hustle more?
That’s a great description. I want to kind of get into your origin story a little bit because your first job clearly wasn’t at Podia. You are currently the CMO, which for Podia, the platform for people who are not as familiar. It is a platform for creators to sell online courses, downloads, coaching, and community all in. One of my favorite features is also the builtin email marketing. And speaking of community, it’s a brand new feature I discovered, which means you can bring your students together and your members together and to ask questions, to share new ideas, even new features. But previously you were head of marketing for five years at Groove. Your work has been featured in Forbes and Entrepreneur. You’ve consulted for clients like Prudentialcheckjet.com Groupon headline. So could you maybe speak to your experience a bit and what gets you excited about maybe working at Podia and in particular, helping a content creators to build their digital storefront?
Yeah, of course. I’ve been working in online marketing for about 15 years now, and it was first by virtue of just being the youngest person in the room at an agency, and they said, just let him do all the online stuff because back then it wasn’t that cool to be working with online marketing. But I learned a lot through doing that and as you mentioned, had a couple of tech jobs and did consulting for quite some time, and then for five years ran marketing at a company called Group, which sold helped us software. I was actually a customer of podiums before I joined the team, so I joined in December 2017 and we were selling an online course about content marketing. And I was looking for a place to host my course, and I looked at everything that was out there and I eventually stumbled on podium, which actually had a different name at the time. And I tried out the platform, put my course up on it and thought, there’s no way I’m touching anything else. This is it. This is the one. They figured something out here. And over the next six to eight months, I got to know Spencer, the founder, really, really well.
And after that, I hadn’t been planning on going anywhere else, taking another inhouse role, but Spencer asked if I wanted to come and build a marketing team here. And it was just such an exciting opportunity that I couldn’t say no. Part of what gets me excited is the fact that at Podia, every single day, there’s somebody that is making their first online dollar ever because of the work that we’re doing. And I think that’s a really, really special and privileged place to be.
Wow. So you mentioned back in 2017 something about the platform, even back then that really was very compelling to you. And I think at this point people are watching this, may have already developed their first course, or maybe they’re just many of them are thinking about starting their very first course is still an ideation phase. But something captured your eyes, perhaps. Could you talk to us about what you loved about Podia at first sight? What about it that really drove you in?
I think that what was really clear even in the very early days, the product looked very little like it looks today, but was really clear in the early days was that it was extremely focused on making things easy and fun for creators. A lot of the platforms that I looked at weren’t really sure if they were focusing on creators or were they focusing on businesses trying to do training or were they focusing on trying to replace university classes. And they just kind of looked very corporate and sterile and boring. And not only that, they were optimized for all of those different things. And so they came with all these different features that I never needed and the products were just so bloated and so pricey that it wasn’t really going to work for what I needed. And Judea was just very clear that they had one audience in mind that was creators. Creators like me, of course, people that wanted to sell digital products to their audience. And everything at that point was built to that. And I think everything since that point has been built for that audience and for that use. Case in mind.
Although obviously the product looks very different now than it did four years ago.
Yeah. So maybe let’s define creators a bit. And it’s very clear in my mind, perhaps the way I would define creators who would be podcasters, YouTubers, photographers, freelancers in the creative world, artists, musicians also. But these days I expand that category too. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who are authors, publish one or multiple books, who are speakers, keynote speakers. Do you think that represents the creator space well, or maybe you want to add to that list?
Yeah, I think that’s a great foundation. I really think that anybody that’s earning money online from their passion or their expertise is a creative to me. So that’s everybody from the artists and the podcasters and the YouTubers to the grandmother that’s teaching the knitting course. Or the financial analyst who is building a community around people who are excited about spreadsheets. Which is a real thing that we have in our podia. Anybody who is taking something. They’re really excited about it. They’re really knowledgeable about. And putting it out into the world. I think is a creator.
Lovely. And let’s talk about your first course, which I didn’t even ask before scheduling this interview. And the reason is so many people struggle with their first anything like their first book, they feel like to be the book that they will be proud of and has to last for a long time and it has to be the best work they’ve ever done. I think that actually has shown to be much of a roadblocker for us as creators. And after developing multiple courses, I really wish I didn’t give myself such a hard time. At the very beginning, there was no way for me to learn without doing and failing and making mistakes. So I would love to hear about your first course, Creation Journey. What was the course about? Was it a success? Was it a failure in your eyes?
So the first course I ever set out to make was about email marketing and the journey that I took to create this course was I thought, people keep asking me about email marketing. I should build a course on this. This was in 2014 or so. I opened up a Word document because Google Docs weren’t cool yet, and I proceeded to basically write everything that I thought I knew about email marketing into this document. Two days later, I think I had around 220 words in there, and I skimmed it and I closed that document and I never opened it again. That course has not seen the light of day clearly because I went about it totally the wrong way, right? I went about this course from the perspective of what’s in my brain, how do I get it out of the world? When the reality was, and as I learned through trial and error many, many times, when the story of my first successful course was a content marketing course, it was called Content Marketing Mastery. And the way that that course was born was from the needs of the market. It was not me taking something in my head and putting it out into the world.
It was me understanding and me learning that there were some really specific problems that people wanted me to solve. And they don’t need to know everything that I know. They don’t need everything in my brain, and in fact, they don’t want to know everything that I know. They just want to know everything they need to know to solve a really, really specific problem. And so that became Content Marketing Mastery how to Build a Repeatable Content Machine in six weeks. And that was the first course that I ever sold that had what I would call a really successful launch, which is this is something that I did in partnership with Zoom, our company. And we had a sixfigure launch in the first three days. And I know there are probably many people listening who have had far more successful launches since then, but this was kind of early in the online course days, and it was a huge, huge accomplishment and a huge learning experience for us at the time.
There’s so many things there are a couple of things I definitely want to break down, which is what you mention of what was in your head. All of it wasn’t necessarily what the market wanted. And I love this scenario because I’m currently working with several clients, and many of my clients actually have courses online as a result of our collaboration together. Consulting arrangement, let’s just say. But I also noticed the pitfall or the easiest mistake to make, which is not intentional, was that all my clients do want to dump their brain onto a piece of paper in a course. Of course, in the course creation world, when we say entry course, it’s five to ten videos, pretty easy to digest versus, and they knew that. But many of them ended up creating these heavy duty signature courses with dozens of chapters and sections and multiple lessons and then you watch kind of the growth or how students will interact with these courses. They’re often overwhelmed. So could you maybe break that down a little bit more on how you found out what the market needed as a time for content creation, how to really hone in on that?
Yeah, I think that’s a really strong point. And the process that we used was and this is something that anybody can reproduce now. This is still widely available to everybody. I’ll start with the foundational principle that every single person listening to this is an expert. Every single person is an expert on something. You may not think you’re an expert on something, but you are. You’re an expert on something. Everybody is an expert in something, right? Think about we all have that friend that we go to when we have a question about something specific, whether it’s gardening or travel planning or business or marketing or that co worker that we go to. You are that for somebody else, right? Everybody is that go to person for something. Most people just don’t think of themselves as experts. Most people don’t think of themselves that way. But the reality is if there’s anything that you know how to do that you have spent time and learned how to do, you know more about that thing than probably 99% of people. And there are other people who want to learn how to do that thing too. So I would say you have to start with the knowledge that you are an expert in something.
Then once you have that kind of foundational idea of, okay, I have a topic like a broad topic, say cooking or painting, then you can narrow down and really understand what the market needs. And there’s a really easy hack for doing this that it will take you some time because you need to spend the time to learn the market. But it’s really simple and it doesn’t cost you a dime. You can go, go to Reddit. Reddit is an amazing social experiment to start, but it’s also as the last count, they had something like 600 million registered users monthly active users on Reddit. Yeah, that is a really significant percentage of all of the people on the planet. If there’s a conversation, if there’s something that people struggle with, there’s a chance there’s probably a discussion about it on Reddit. So I would go to Reddit and I would find the subreddits that are related to the topic that you’re thinking about teaching. So let’s say cooking. So if I go to Reddit and I type in cooking in the search bar, I’ll probably find all these communities about cooking. There’s dozens of them. And then I would click into those communities and I would use the search bar and I would type in, in quotes phrases like how do I, how do you struggling with anything that would indicate that somebody is trying to work through a problem they’re trying to solve.
And I would just see what comes up. What are the discussions that people are having? What are the things that have a lot of upcoming, a lot of traction, a lot of discussion? What are the really, really lively topics? Those would be my first leads for what I could create courses about. I would take all of those ideas, I would dump them on a list, and then I would start thinking about, okay, here are all these things. Let’s say I did research on cooking and I found all of these questions that people are debating on reddit. They’re debating what’s the best way to make salad dressing? What’s the best way to prep a steak? What are the kitchen tools that you need? And then I would look at this list and I would think for every single I would think about a matrix, right? You have two axes on a matrix. One would be profit potential and one would be passion. Think about that as a matrix and then plot every idea based on the profit potential for that idea and based on your personal passion about the idea. And I’ll explain what I mean by this.
So for passion, creating a digital product business is a lot like creating any other business. There are going to be highs and there are going to be lows. And if you’re passionate about what you’re teaching, if you think that what you’re building needs to be out in the world, it’s going to be a lot easier to get through the low parts, right? So that’s why we think about like, let’s make sure that we actually care about the things that we’re teaching. And then on the profit potential side, the way that I would think about that is what are people actively doing to already try to solve the problem that you would be solving for them? So is it something like cooking eggs where people probably are not spending a lot of money to figure that out, right? Maybe they’re looking for free recipes online. So maybe you found some reds. Reds about that, but it probably doesn’t have a lot of profit potential. You’re probably not going to earn a lot of money with courses on cooking eggs, right? But maybe you have some ideas like that you’ve discovered from your search that are something like how do I meal prep for the week?
How do I feed my child, how do I feed a toddler without feeling guilty that, you know, I can’t get them to eat kale? How do I impress a date with cooking? These are ideas that people might be actually spending a lot of money to figure out how to solve, right? Because if you think about what the alternative would be to impress a date, the alternative would probably be spending $100 in a restaurant. Or the alternative to the way that people are probably solving the meal prep problem might be, hey, they’re paying $30 or $40 a week for Blue Apron, or they might be paying a lot of money for some other solution. Whereas you could come in and teach them and solve this problem for them and still earn money because they’re paying money. This is clearly a problem they’re willing to pay money to solve. So I would follow that process, and you’ll probably end up with at least a handful of ideas that you can turn that you could then turn around and build a profitable course around.
That’s such a great idea. I mean, I’ve tried reddit subreddit in particular. It gets really niche. Even searching for I’m not sure if LinkedIn is the best place, but even I found that there are a lot of Q and a lot of polls information. I look at Google Trends and also I think it’s answerthepublic.com. It’s another really interesting resource. But lens through your experience. Like, one of the most commonly asked questions from my clients and people I know, creative colleagues, is how do you actually know if an idea is worth the money? Like when you mentioned that, yeah, if you want to impress dates, you know, do you go to Blue Apron or do you go out to a fancy restaurant? I guess, how do we know the value of the course? How much people are actually willing to pay? And this may be a related question to pricing, which is, I hear it’s like, I have no feeling for pricing. I’m completely stuck. I don’t know what the numbers should be.
That’s a great question. And it’s something that course creators and digital product creators always struggle with. And I think, to be fair, there’s no really easy answer, but there is a simple answer. And the simple answer is to try to figure out and get as close to the value of solving this problem for somebody. And I will say, as a hint, the value of solving most problems is higher than you think. A lot of people think about. I think one of the first things that people think about when they do market research for pricing, they look in the completely wrong place because they look directly at their competitors. And actually, I think looking at the competition first is totally wrong because the competition is never going to pay you anything for your products. For all you know, your competition doesn’t know any more about the market than you do. They might also just be looking at the other competitors and seeing what they’re doing. So I would not look at the competition. I would look at what people are actually spending to solve this problem. And that usually, I think, the reason that we don’t look at the competition is that usually what people are spending on is not another course or another community or another digital product.
Usually what you’re solving, people are probably spending on books, coaches, on training, on software or services or physical tools. Those are the kinds of things that could indicate basically what the value to them of solving this problem would be. And that doesn’t mean that the value like, let’s say you find a problem like meal planning and you find out that a book costs $12. That doesn’t mean that you should price your course at $12. You should probably never price a course at $12. What that means is you have discovered one of the ways that people try to solve that. And chances are that way has failed for people, right? And chances are that is one in a long line of things that people have tried that somebody has tried to solve this problem. Which means so when you think about the value of solving a problem, don’t think about the last thing that they bought to solve that problem. Think about cumulatively how much time and energy and stress they’ve spent to solve this problem over the course of years and think about pricing your course that way. And the way that you get the answer to that question is you actually just talk to people like you talk to the people who are having these problems.
And one of the great ways to do that is just go into these reddit discussions and start sending direct messages to people. You’d be shocked at how many people respond and are willing to have open conversations about this, but you can ask them questions like, just tell me how you’re thinking about this problem. What have you tried to solve this problem and how did that work for you? If you could wave a magic wand and just change anything about your interaction with this problem, what would it be? And that’s going to start to give you those openended questions. That’s going to start to give you some real perspective and some real insight into just how deep this thorn is in people’s side and just how much they want to solve this problem once and for all. And once you have that, I think you can start to work backwards on pricing. But I will say the only real numbers tip that I would give on pricing is to start with a price that makes you a little bit uncomfortable. Like you’re probably charging a little too much because that means you’re probably approaching a price that might be a decent starting price.
I love this so much because I want to use myself as a guinea pig because we run into these scenarios and we feel kind of alone, like, oh, my business is so weird and this thing I want to create maybe won’t work. We have a lot of doubts. We do have a couple of questions come in and I’m going to get to you for sure, but I think I have a pretty good scenario. So what happened, len is in 2020, I created a YouTube channel, just not out of the blue, but I was trying to help my fitness instructors and friends, trying to bring their businesses online because I knew that they didn’t really have the experience like I did as a creative entrepreneur since 2015 and bunch of side projects before then. And I was very comfortable. And so what I did was I taught them how to use Zoom, but very specifically how to work around the very challenging part of Zoom, like audio, video, like the things that didn’t even work for fitness or were creators, fitness instructors and creators. And then over time now when people search for Zoom, especially like Zoom Webinar for bigger corporations, all of a sudden my videos just surface through the top.
As a result, I create a lot of adjacent, like, related videos and with full transparency, it is also on my website. I’m charging now $300 for consulting and people are booking them. A lot of company executive leaders. I get booked for moderation so well on Podia and the most recent endeavors in terms of creating a course and actually hosting a training right after this is on how to set up Zoom Webinar and be like a pro at Zoom Webinar. And the other kind of unexpectedly is virtual meeting moderation, which I get hired to do regularly. And then I got stuck. So in terms of pricing, sometimes even hourly, I’m 300. I’m very hesitant to say who will buy a course for 300. I’m teaching them everything. Companies can, like, buy multiple licenses and give it to their moderators and trainers. Could you help me maybe think through a little bit with clear head? Because I feel like living inside my head for quite a while now.
Yeah, absolutely. And I love that example. I mean, I would say if you think about, for example, the Zoom example, we’re in a world where everything’s on Zoo now, especially in these last 18 months, and it looks like for many companies, it’s just going to be the status quo move. Like that’s going to be permanent. Like people are staying remote, companies are not. Many companies are choosing not to go back to the office. And so Zoom is going to be a mainstay for a very long time, which means people want to adapt, right? And if you think about what the quote unquote competition for this is, right? So it’s not that there’s some other Zoom consultants that you’re competing against. But if you think about what people used to do when they ran Webinars back in the office. Back when I worked in an office that actually had webinars. We actually built a studio in our office and we spent thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars on lighting. Green screen. Camera equipment. Like making sure that everything was connected with the computer and that we had this switchbox. And there was a bunch of complicated stuff that I didn’t even know how to use.
And it was a really expensive setup to essentially be able to just run webinars, this really seemingly simple thing, which, as you know, actually has a lot of art and nuance and technology and importance behind it, right? Well, now, that’s basically what you’re competing against, right? That’s basically like. Are people going to go and spend a whole bunch of money trying to DIY their zoom set up. Whether that’s the decor in the room or whether that’s the other thing that I think a lot of people would do before was go and pay thousands of dollars for speaker training and go in a room with a bunch of people and try and get better at speaking. And that’s something that I did many years ago. And I remember it was not cheap, and I remember that there were a lot of other people there that had their companies paying for it too. And these don’t tend to be very price sensitive buyers because they just want this result. True. And now that people are at home, they still need to do webinars. They still need great setups, they need great strategy, they need better speaking ability, but they can’t really do all those things they used to do.
Or they could. But it would come with great work, it would come with great expense. It would come with a bunch of hassle, because traveling now isn’t a lot more difficult than it used to be. And so when you think about the price of that, when you think about the fact that people pay thousands of dollars to solve these problems that you can solve for them, I think that could help maybe open up the perspective around what you’re offering might be worth. And then you think about that across 80 managers at a company and the impact it could have. That’s really valuable stuff.
Yeah, this is so good to hear. And I want to add to that also a little bit more exactly like you said. Sometimes we’re sitting here thinking, I’ve done this for a year now. I’m comfortable. I’ve been a podcaster for seven years. These are just trivial things. But then I had to put things on paper creating these Google Slides, and all of a sudden, what’s in my mind in terms of five slides now becomes 35. And I’m talking about things that are very intricate, things I’ve learned along the way, including examples such as a lot of these very I would say like high end events have these very tier one influencers. I often have to follow some sort of a script, which I kind of don’t. It’s not my favorite thing to follow. Script I love, you know, I send some questions over to you, but I basically don’t need them because I love the natural flow of our conversation. But I don’t always get to do that. For me, for instance, for a lot of moderators, it gets more challenging when you have to follow a script that’s been signed off that’s. Been approved.
And so for me. I build in moderation trainings to help them. How to make transitions sound more natural. How to smile a little bit more like you’re more engaged. But also. Like. Things that sounds so silly. I would say. When you’re moderating A for a meeting. For instance.
Like things like.
Don’t use mugs like this because literally can pour all over your keyboard. Clean your background. Have the elgato lights. How to adjust the lights. And it’s just all of a sudden, things in and outside of zoom just become quite intricate. And also I got the survey results, like, mostly tens people are really thrilled how it went. So I think all that is something I want to really incorporate into my online courses. And I don’t know. Like. How successful I will be at conveying them. Which is why I love one of the features from within Podia is within each section. As you’re building out the course. You have the option to give people consulting options and plug right in. Calendar or Acuity scheduling. And people say. You know what. Section one was great. But I want to talk to Fey now. Or I want to talk to Diana now. Click one button push. All of a sudden there are additional income from consulting directly through you. I love that.
Awesome. Yeah, I think I’m really, really excited that we were able to add that. And like you said, it’s a fantastic way to continue getting feedback, because the people that end up being most successful as creators are the people that keep listening feedback and other people that keep learning from their customers. And I think the consulting piece is really interesting because you get two for one. You get to get feedback from your customers and get paid for it at the same time.
Yeah, I know. It’s really exciting. There’s so much to explore. And I want to get to one question here from Africa. I love when we connect with people from all around the world, but I think a lot of the creators are thinking, I want to create this course. I really don’t want to become obsolete like six months, a year from now. And I feel that pain. So is it possible to make the content ever green and so that in a year’s time it will be still be of value?
That’s a great question. I’ll answer that by saying that the highest. I don’t remember if it’s the first or second highest revenue course on Podium this year was released in 2015. It was released on a different platform in 2015. Podium doesn’t exist then, but it came into Podia in 2018. But the course is essentially the same as it was in 2015, and it still remains one of the highest grossing courses on the Internet. So I would say absolutely, you can make content evergreen, I think, depending on what you’re teaching. Right. I think there are some topics that are probably a little bit more timely, but at the same time, if you’re teaching marketing strategies or if you’re teaching Zoom strategies, these things, they’re going to be relevant in three years. And in five years you may have to go back and update them because the products you’re teaching are going to update and things are going to change a little bit. But a lot of the core principles will likely remain the same and it’s absolutely going to still have value for people in years time.
That’s so good to hear. And the same thing on YouTube. Some of the videos I’ve released back in early 2020 are still the best performing videos today. So that is really, I think, courses even more so that goes against the common belief that when it comes to social media content, everything will become obsolete within, I don’t know, like tomorrow or something. So people are really afraid to create content. So that’s definitely a great data right there. So I have a question related to people like me, creators who don’t like to focus on one thing niche down so much. So right now I have kind of a variety of courses on podium and frankly elsewhere. I’m working very hard at migrating over to Podia. So the Zoom courses are upcoming in production and I’ve been on YouTube, so people ask me about what can I create for YouTubers to monetize? And then start thinking about monetization before this YouTube partnership program, which means before you get 10 subscribers and 40 watch hours. And so I have that course, but then I frankly, I look at other courses I’ve created on other platforms like Thinkafik and Member Vault, and it’s related to podcasting, for instance, which in my world, I feel like it’s all relative for creators.
But you could also come from another angle to say, oh my God, faze all over the place. Does it make sense for me to merge all the courses on Podiate or do you think I should really separate the audience so that they’re not overwhelmed?
It’s a good question. I think that one of the things that creators really struggle to I don’t know if accept is the right word, but I think one of the things that creators really struggle to embrace is that very often a huge part of the value of purchasing your course in the customer’s eyes is the fact that they’re purchasing it from you. It’s the fact that they get access to you either because the course includes access to you or because they’re getting kind of prerecorded access to a piece of content you’ve put out. That’s really important to understand because if you think about that, it makes you realize that it’s not that important to have all of these different brands all over the place and like different mini brands for different products and different audiences and things like that. A lot of people just want access to pay, right? A lot of people just want to support Faye, the creator. A lot of people just want to learn from Faye. And if you think about some classic examples of some of the I think some of the really well known course creators, if you think about people like Amy Porterfield or Rumi Safety or Marie Forleo, they have courses on many, many different topics and people still buy them, all right?
Because people want to learn from that person because it’s not that that person has shown them that they have this narrow expertise in something, especially after the first course, that person has shown them that they can teach the students how to learn something, like they can teach the student something effectively. And so I think actually having all of your courses in one place, I think there are a lot of benefits both to you and to your students, with your students getting one kogan for everything rather than having three logins for different pieces of content they buy from you. I think many creators get surprised when they see how much their students are actually interested in content about that it’s totally different from the topic that they originally purchased the first product on.
Yeah, that’s a really good point. I have to highlight for clients when it comes to even building a website, there are so many content creators who don’t have an about page or don’t even show their faces as simple as uploading an image. I’m here to say that you have to include an image of yourself, a profile image of portrait, even though you’re not in love with it, even if it’s like a year or two old. But I even encourage people to share videos. That instant connection with a creator is that something that money can buy? And it’s hard to communicate what that is. And I think it’s very true. If you are relatable, if you are providing value, you’ll be surprised that you don’t have to be like a household name for other people to develop that trust in you. So with that said, I want to address another question that came in and I’m going to kind of maybe rephrase this a little bit and to make it I think I understand what you mean by this, what are the relevant metrics for tracking return on investment or I on social media and I want to say to relate to courses, many of us don’t.
I mean, I have an email list of maybe over 2000 people, whereas a lot of people I respect, admire, have 50,000 followers, 100,000 followers, like everywhere email list. So whenever they release, even with a 1% half a conversion, we’re talking about significant revenue. Revenue stadium is definitely one of them. But when we have a smaller email list or no list, sometimes we have to rely on our social media. Some of that is our personal social media with family and friends, some very small communities of like 100%, 50 person groups. So I hope I’m acknowledging this correctly, but I guess, Lynn, this is kind of an overall marketing question on should we market our courses on social media and other platforms and how do we do so correctly? How do we measure that it’s actually worth the effort?
Yeah, this is a great question. Every channel can be effective. Every channel can be useful for creators. Ultimately, there’s a kind of a saying in copywriting that the money’s in the list. And what that essentially means is there’s no marketing asset you can have long term that’s more valuable than your email list. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use social media. You should absolutely use social media because a lot of times that’s where the buyers are and you should be talking, spreading a message on social media. You should be sharing wisdom and adding value on social media. You should be engaging with people on social media, especially as you talked before about having conversations with your buyers, having conversations with people in your market. I would be having conversations about, hey, where are you spending your time online? What are the platforms that you really like? What topics do you follow? Where the people that you follow? Because that’s going to give you some focus on where to spend your time with social media. Otherwise, I think it’s really easy to get really kind of into the space where you’re just posting to every single platform and every single community that you can find, and not really having the focus to be able to create native content for every network that’s important to you.
But as far as return on investment on social media, I think there are two ways to think about that. One would be how many course customers or community subscribers or whatever you’re selling, how many sales am I making every time that I posted social media? I’m not a huge fan of that approach because to be honest, conversion rates on social media are far worse. And in general, a social media subscriber is not going to be nearly as valuable as an email subscriber. And so I would rather rather than try and do all of my selling on social media and focus entirely on selling, I would focus as much as possible on bringing your social media audience into your email list. That’s where the real value lies. Because what happens when you bring somebody, when you get an email address from, when you turn a Twitter follower into an email address, you no longer have a relationship with this possibly anonymous person that Twitter owns the relationship with, and you’re essentially renting this relationship from Twitter. Now you own the relationship with this person. You can email them, you can continue to earn their trust and their respect and their admiration, and you can continue to sell to that person over and over and over again.
And you know that if you continue adding value every time you send an email, that person is going to open it and you’re going to see it, versus social media where that is absolutely not the case. And you are 100% at the mercy of whatever algorithm changes the platform wants to make. And so I would say rather than necessarily tracking the sales that you’re making on social media, think about how you can deliver so much value on social media that people are excited to sign up for your email list and then see how many people are signing up for your email list from social media. And the really easy way to do that, I mean, obviously you can get really technical with analytics, but the really easy way to do this, and I love this move, is when somebody signs up in your email list, send an automated email that just says, hey, I’m Len, thank you so much for subscribing. I’m really excited to share more information with you. Just a quick question. We’d love to know how did you hear about this and what’s the number one thing I can help you with?
And what you’re going to realize is that in general, we see response rates to this email of 20% to 40% sometimes and up, which is nuts. And you’re going to get incredible feedback both on what’s working to grow your email list and on what people actually want to buy from you.
I love it. That formula works, and I’ve tried that with several clients, is getting to know you, getting to know the subscriber, what can I do to help you? People always respond from all over the world and it’s magical. And for us to continue that conversation, even if you’re busy and just kind of continuing a thread, it doesn’t have to be a perfectly crafted emails. People have that sense of personal connection and significantly increase trust towards whatever you’re doing selling. So I’ve taken up quite a bit of length time and I do have an area I want to make sure that we dive in a little bit before we wrap, which is related to lead gen or lead magnets. For people who are not as familiar with these terms, are things you can potentially give away that are not overly sophisticated. It could be a questionnaire, it could be a checklist, it could be a one pager document, it could be a video. So Len, one thing I’m kind of really proud of to like experiment and talk about lately is that I developed a course called it’s really a toolkit with a lot of documents and templates called the YouTuber Kit.
And the issue I had with that is like, marketing it to a big variety of people was pretty challenging. And I realized my guesses on what will really pull people in was kind of off target. It was incorrect, it was a little bit off. And what I did was I look at the toolkit and there are 30 documents I start pulling in five of them, I feel like I started to see the market react to, you know, one of them is like a twelve week momentum tracker for your YouTube journey, and the other is like video repurposing guy for social media. So I pull those out and I build them up as legions. Some free documents, some just cost $10 as opposed to $200 from within Podia and in Podia under pricing option, I seem to know the platform really well. There’s an Upsell option, so which means now I give things away for free and I sell them at a lower price point and I get to see the moment they check out. What are the willingness of these potential buyers to also buy a more expensive product? What are your thoughts on that overall?
Yeah, I think the more you can get people to pull out a credit card and pay you any amount of money for something, the more you’re going to learn about your business.
I’m a big fan of Free Lead Magnets just for growing email lists, but I am a huge fan of Upselling to Paid Lead Magnets. I think that you’re getting something so much. We talked about how email addresses are extremely valuable assets. I think the only thing when it comes to leads, the only thing that is more valuable than an email address is an email address of somebody who’s already bought something for you before. Even if that thing was a small $10 upgrade like a premium lead magnet, I love that strategy. I think it’s a brilliant strategy. I’ve seen really successful creators employ that strategy to build their email list and make far, far bigger launches. I’m a huge fan and fully supported.
Awesome. Oh my goodness, this is so helpful. Thank you so much for your time. Before we close, is there something that you feel like you want to highlight and mention before we wrap up? And for people who are watching this, we’re going live on Restream. There’s a link below you can get started for free, but also there’s a link for you to check out Podia as well. And there is a free trial. And I committed. I basically subscribed within two days while I was on the free trial. So definitely check it out. But yeah. Lennon, back to you. Anything you want to highlight and talk about before we wrap?
No. I really appreciate you having me on here. I think it’s always fun to talk to creators and hopefully folks in your audience have gotten value from this and have learned something. And if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out our way too. We’re always happy to help. There’s a lot of content on the site and I’m sure they can link some of it, but we love to help creators and we’d love to see what some of y’all build. Awesome.
And then yeah, definitely don’t forget to check out podia on YouTube. There are a lot of great, funky, really well produced tutorials. But there’s also the kind of documentary series for you to watch, a creator to go through that process and you won’t be as scared or as intimidated anymore. So we’re going to take this offline or end this dream. Alright?
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