Welcome back to my latest episode! I’m getting into the swing of things with more interviews with real online course creators – people who’ve actually managed to take their passion or hobby and turn it into a tangible learning program for others.

My guest this time was Trevor Dimoff of EpicSongWriting.com. He’s relatively new to the online course world, but he’s hit on a really cool method of identifying what his market needs and how to create relationships with potential students.

Talk to people and find out what they think… [you] need to know how to communicate with someone who is just getting started.

Trevor Dimoff

I loved hearing Trevor’s story, because it puts a fresh spin what course creation and marketing can look like. He also was transparent about what he feels his early mistakes are, and what he’s learned from them. I think you’re really going to enjoy the food for thought in our conversation. 😉

In This Episode, We Talked About:

  • (3:25) My previous episode on making sales over the phone
  • (3:58) Trevor’s process creating and updating his course
  • (5:32) Why he started a blog before an online course
  • (5:58) The research and phone call process that gave him insight into his market
  • (9:02) Trevor’s approach to teaching songwriting online
  • (9:46) What makes his course preparation different from a lot of other course creators – and how it made his launch a success
  • (11:47) Marketing and course development
  • (13:15) Trevor’s pricing strategy and content delivery
  • (14:19) A mistake involving complexity
  • (15:09) The timeline for Trevor’s initial course
  • (16:40) His new launch strategy and some regrets
  • (19:04) Why he’s hesitant to outsource so far
  • (19:26) Trevor’s advice for aspiring course creators

That’s all for today, but I’ll be back soon with more cool tips and great insights from fellow course creators – don’t forget to subscribe!

Jacques Hopkins: Regular people are taking their knowledge and content, packaging it up in an online course and they're making a living doing, but not everyone is successful with online courses. There's a right way and there's a wrong way, and I'm here to help course creators actually succeed with online courses. Hi, I'm John Hopkins, and this is the online course show.

Hey, everyone at jock Hopkins and welcome to episode 90 of the online course show. Today's show is going to be all about phone calls, selling your course over the phone, but also just talking to people on the phone as a way to get started. But before we get into that a little bit more, let me tell you about a few things going on at the online course.

guy.com if you're just getting started with courses, you don't have a course, you haven't made a course sale, and I've got the perfect course for you. It's called the online course accelerator. It's designed to take you from absolutely nothing to your first course sale within eight weeks. It's everything you need, but nothing you don't.

And we go into a lot more detail about this phone call process in that course. Also, if you have a course already, you've been making sales, you just haven't taken it to the level that you want or you're working crazy hours and you need help with automation and outsourcing. Then I've got a program for you as well.

It's called next level courses, obviously designed to take your course to the next level. You can find out about that as well at the online course, guy.com and lastly, I want to tell you about one of my favorite all time tools for course creators, and that is click funnels. And when you sign up for your free trial of click funnels using this link.

The online course, guy.com/click funnels you will get all kinds of free templates and things from me, and you'll even get a free course on how to use click funnels as a course creator. So you can either go straight to that link I just gave you, or you can go to the online course, guide.com and click on tools at the top.

So like I said, today's episode is all about phone calls. And I had a guest on the show, Trevor from Epic song writing.com and Trevor's still on more of the beginning stages of this course thing, but he has found. Early success by doing something. He calls research calls. So this is very interesting because it's a little different than what I've talked about on the podcast before and what I teach in the online course accelerator.

Cause I teach you to kind of set up a basic funnel with a call on the back end and really try to pre-sell things, presale your course, presale some coaching, pre-sell a course that's going to be delivered. Live over several weeks, things like that. But what Trevor did was these research calls where he's just talking to people that would be his target demographic for people taking his course, but also experts in his area as well, and just collecting all kinds of great research and he wasn't trying to sell anything at first, just collecting research.

He got all his data together, he got all this information, and then he went back to a lot of those same people, got them back on the phone and had a product to offer them. A future product. It was something that was going to come out, but then he was able to get back on the phone and actually make sales.

And so I thought this perspective of these research calls where you're not actually trying to sell anything on the phone was very, very interesting. If you want to go back and kind of hear about my history of selling my online piano course over the phone, we talked about that back way back in episode 11 of this podcast, so feel free to, to kind of listen to that as well.

But this is, we're jumping back into the phone call conversation with this episode, and so if you're interested in that at all, then this is a great episode for you. So let's jump into that conversation with Trevor right now. Hey, Trevor, welcome to the online course.

Trevor Dimoff: Show. Thanks for having.

Jacques Hopkins: Me. Yeah, Trevor. So let me ask you this right off the bat, because I went to Epic songwriting.com this morning and it looks like your version two is in development, right? So tell me about version one in this process of developing version two. So

Trevor Dimoff: version one was a pilot. I did some research calls. I join course builders laboratory, Amir C, and they have a PR. To us for building courses, which helped me a lot. So rather than building a course and hoping it works, you pilot it first. So I did research calls. I decided I wanted to write about songwriting in particular. I have a blog and I wanted to monetize it. So I started talking to people and that was the best thing I could have done.

So I went through all the possibilities. Who should I talk to? I talked to pro songwriters. I talked to amateur songwriters. I talked to people that hadn't written yet, but wanted to write. And I basically asked them, what's going on? What's difficult? What do you need help with? What would you. What do you need to learn?

And through that, I sifted through all my research and then I came back to them afterwards and for the pro, as I said, this is what I'm planning to do. This is a songwriting course, and I explained my methodology, how I would teach it and ask them what would they add to it? What was missing for the beginner and amateur songwriters? I said, this is what I'm doing, is this of interest to you? And so I got a few people on the pilot by doing research calls and, and following through.

Jacques Hopkins: And you said you had a blog already, was [email protected] or was that somewhere else?

Trevor Dimoff: No, that was it.

Jacques Hopkins: That was it. Okay. So you started the blog. Did you know that you were going to go in the direction of an online course when you started the blog?

Trevor Dimoff: Not right away, but it was something I had thought about for over a year. And I'm a professional teacher. I teach music. I've done, in played, I've written, I've taught for many, many years, 25 plus years. So it was a way of packaging what I already did and putting it out there.

Jacques Hopkins: So you mentioned the words, research calls. What is a research call.

Trevor Dimoff: Contact people, talk to them. So as I described, I started with, I want to write songs, so what am I going to teach about it? Am I going to concentrate on lyrics on how to develop ideas? I didn't really know yet, and I deliberately didn't want to know because I wanted to talk to people first and find out what resonated with them, where they needed help.

So with say, talking to a pro songwriter, I said, you know, what was your path? What did you learn? How did you learn it? What you find easiest? What's hardest. And the interesting thing I found out, which a lot of this stuff will show up later in the marketing. Most songwriters that I spoke to herself taught, they would learn guitar for years.

They would learn how to sing. They play piano, they. Gig professionally playing cover songs perhaps, and they taught themselves songwriting. That was something that almost every songwriter I spoke to did. So rather than, there's an old myth, you have to write a hundred crappy songs before you can write a good one. The ultimate songwriting jumpstarters is a way to kick start past that so that you start writing better songs sooner.

Jacques Hopkins: So we're all of these research calls with, with songwriters or w did you do any research calls with people that that might be interested in your course? Yeah.

Trevor Dimoff: I did both. I went to Facebook, I said, who, you know, and I'd send them a fast message. I want to talk about songwriting. Are you interested? I mean, it was a little more elaborate than that, but basically it was a first contact about that. So I made it very simple, very, you know, it's a yes, no kind of situation. Do you want to get on a Skype call? So I Skyped, I use Facebook messenger. I talked to people all different ways, whatever's convenient for them. And, I just talked to people. I have 2030 people.

Jacques Hopkins: I love the idea of that. And I think the biggest, the biggest problem is people listening to this who would also like the idea of that is how do you, how do you find these people? Where do you start? So, so go back, you said, you said Facebook. Where specifically on Facebook are you finding these.

Trevor Dimoff: People? Friends. Okay. So most of my, I'm a songwriter, I'm a musician, so my Facebook feed is full of Noosa. Owns and people that are writing and performing. So I just talked to people. I started with my Facebook friends who do, I know that's a songwriter, and I'd send out messages. I'd get, you know, 20 30% respond rate.

So that didn't bother me. I just kept going. I spoke to people that I knew were interested in songwriting musicians. There was a few people in a, another course that I was taking on singing and I just, I was playing my song. So a few of them were, I just dropped a, a message to a few of them and said, are you interested in songwriting and would you like to talk about it?

So a lot of them were more beginners. They had tried songwriting and maybe weren't successful or were just beginning at it. So it gave me a way to buy. What I wanted to do was talk to everybody I could, but the pros would give me information about how they wrote. Yeah, matures would tell me what wasn't working, and so I sent the all of that and boiled it down to I'm going to teach someone that already knows how to play cover songs, how to write songs in a musical in a similar musical style.

So that's the, the premise behind the ultimate songwriting jumpstart. I teach a process that is based on principles rather than rules, and I give them a framework in order to start with the very basics of how do you get the ideas down? How do you manipulate them? How do you turn that into lyrics? How do you write a chord progression?

How do you set that melody to, to the lyrics within that core progression and then how to build, an arrangement, build a full, full song structure. And then how do you record that for YouTube or for Facebook? So the idea is you start with, I don't know what to write, staring at a blank page and go straight to, through the course, straight to a finished song.

Jacques Hopkins: And your process for getting started with all these research calls is, is quite different than the way most people get started. You know, typically if without doing research.

Trevor Dimoff: Yeah, no, I totally agree. And it that's taught in course builders lab. So I had a lot of resistance to that. don't really want to get on the phone and talk to people, but I made myself do it.

And after doing two or three of them, it's a rush cause you're getting all this information. People are telling you in their words what exactly didn't work. So that winds up in the marketing research later in the, that's marketing research for later. So now I know how to tell somebody about this. I'd go through, when I was explaining, after I'd done my research and doing followup calls, I explained the process of the course a dozen times before I ever had to start trying to physically sell it.

So most of my sales came through through contact calls, follow up and research. I drop things, you know, talk to people that I hadn't done any initial research with as well. And I had people signing up 10 minutes after I'd finished the call.

Jacques Hopkins: So do you think that the biggest, the biggest advantage to those calls is because it made your course better because you're actually giving people what they wanted or because it made it a little easier to make sales?

Trevor Dimoff: They was both. I think it is most important that I gave people what they wanted, but I also made sales that way. So as you finish the call, you ask people, is it okay if I contact you again with the results of my research? And that opens the door to who? To a contact call again afterwards, once I had the outline, so with the pilot methodology, I didn't have a full course written by the time I started, I had the outline of everything, and I'd set up a PowerPoint for that week.

I'd go through it and flesh it out and then teach that week, and then build the PowerPoint for the next week. So I had an outline of everything I wanted to do. I just didn't have all the details filled in right away. So I had made money on this course before I even finished. Deciding what everything that I was going to do within it.

Jacques Hopkins: That's really cool. Trevor. I teach a similar way to do things because the last thing I want from people is to go spend a ton of time creating a course that adds, as it turns out, nobody either nobody wants or nobody wants to pay money for. So you, you essentially pre-sold this, but then deliberate it a week at a time.

So what exactly were you telling people on the phone in terms of what they were going to get and when they were going to get it, if they gave you money.

Trevor Dimoff: Two things. One was this is a beta course or a pilot course, so it will be rough there. There might be mistakes, but you also get to help me and create it.

I had a Google survey for the end of every class and I asked. You know, what, what hit you the most? What was irrelevant? you know, things like, what was the sound quality like even, you know, I made mistakes on that. I recorded one, my first episode, my first lesson, and it was one PowerPoint slide that didn't change.

So I had to go back and reshoot the whole thing without any students. But because it's a, something that you're building as you go, they get feedback. So I got feedback. My melodies weren't good enough according to one student. What I, what I covered with melody. So I went back and I expanded on that. So I gave him what he needed.

It was brilliant. It made, it also helped me base it out. So originally I was going to do five, but I had to expand it because I had so much to say in order to teach it properly. So it helped me develop the course as I was developing it, rather than building it in a vacuum and then hoping that the balloon floats it. You know, you're not building led balloons. And.

Jacques Hopkins: How much did you charge for the pilot program?

Trevor Dimoff: I charge one 49 U S.

Jacques Hopkins: And where are you? Where are you pitching it to people like when the full version comes out, it's going to be $500 but you can get into the pilot for this amount.

Trevor Dimoff: Yeah, I charge one 47 the full course will be one 97.

Jacques Hopkins: One 97.

Trevor Dimoff: Okay.

And I also said you get, you get an upgrade, so you didn't have to pay again to get the full course.

Jacques Hopkins: Okay. And how did you deliver the material? Was it just a live webinars weekly?

Trevor Dimoff: Zoom. Yeah.

Jacques Hopkins: On zoom. with, with just like a PowerPoint presentation with your voiceover.

Trevor Dimoff: Yeah. And cameras.

Jacques Hopkins: And cameras. And did you host these videos somewhere that they, people could go back and review them?

Trevor Dimoff: I left them on zoom. I upgraded, I think it was 15 bucks a month. So I kept everything on zoom. I had a webpage with a password on it so they could access that. You could do this with Google docs. It's not necessarily to have webpage. It just, I liked it because everything was on one page.

Jacques Hopkins: Okay. So going back to, I guess one of my first questions here, you know, I can't actually buy version two, I'm assuming version two is not ready yet. Why don't you have these videos from version one available as a course that people can buy today. I.

Trevor Dimoff: Made a mistake. So I finished the pilot. It was successful. The students got results. I decided I wanted to go for a full course right away rather than what I should have done was do another pilot, test it further, further, improve the curriculum and practice delivering it, and then I should have got Camtasia and recorded it.

So I decided that I wanted to upgrade the production bodies. So in the new course, I bought a DSLR camera. I've got a better microphone. I bought some lights and I fell into an abyss of complexity. So it's still in production.

Jacques Hopkins: So give me some time frames. Obviously V2 is still in production around when were you doing these research calls and when did the pilot program finish up.

Trevor Dimoff: Research calls actively. It was about a month, and then I didn't feel I had enough research call, so I spent another about a month, so about two months on research calls. I could have done it in a month. Putting the pilot together with the outlining was probably about six to 10 weeks, and then delivering the pilot, selling the pilot was about three and then delivering the pilot was seven weeks total.

So then I sort of. Took some time off. I looked at what I had done and adjusted the curriculum slightly as a teacher. I wasn't really concerned about the curriculum, but more about spacing it out. So how long did it take to teach melody? How long does it take to teach core progressions? I knew what I wanted to teach.

It was a question of pacing. So once I had that figured out, that took me another, I'd say six weeks or so to get the year and start using it. So I was comfortable with it. And then production wise, forever. So that's where I've been stuck. That's a big bottleneck for me. So I just recently purchased Camtasia who really wish I had done that at the beginning.

And so I'm sort of doing a combination of live standup with the teleprompter, and then I'm the same way. I did zoom with screen capture and talk over, do.

Jacques Hopkins: You have a target launch date?

Trevor Dimoff: I'm looking at a soft launch for modules one, two, three and possibly four. And I'd say probably about eight weeks from now.

Jacques Hopkins: What is your launch strategy going to be.

Trevor Dimoff: Finished production after that. That's the big one for me. I'm really stuck in that and I made a huge mistake. I was looking at thousand dollar courses that I'd taken. I was looking at production values from professionals and from professional teams. I'm doing this by myself, so there's things I can't do.

I can't zoom in halfway through a shot. It just, it's not going to happen. So I had to scale back my production expectations, looking at how long it's taken. I'm probably underselling the course at one 97 but I'm going to start there and see how it goes. So I've lost your question.

Jacques Hopkins: No, I was, I was asking about launch strategy, but I will tell you, Trevor, yeah, I will tell you that, you know, with, with my piano course, I'm on version five of mine over the past six or so years.

And, man, I kind of cringe a little bit when I look back at version one, two, heck even three. I think. it's, it's all about just continuing to Uplevel. And that's great. You're already on version two and, and maybe, maybe by the time you get to version three, you will have. Some help and can just continue to up that production of value. But to your point, like if you, if you try to get everything perfect, then you'll probably never finish it.

Trevor Dimoff: Absolutely agree. And if I had known that a year ago, I would have bought Camtasia and we'd be talking about how many thousands I'm selling a month.

Jacques Hopkins: So when it's, when it is ready, when those modules are ready and it's time to put it out there for people to buy, what does that strategy look like for you?

Trevor Dimoff: Still have formed, I'm trying to focus on one thing at a time and there's a few things I'm going to do. One, I'm getting back on the phone and Skype and I'm going to sign up a few people just by talking to them. Really, that's what worked for me with the pilot. I put a Facebook ads and there was a landing page similar to the one you that you looked at.

And really, I got . All kinds of traffic and no hits it all. So I'm starting with some real life people that I'm talking to. There's a few that didn't buy into the pilot because of monetary reasons. I'll talk to them and there's a few other people I've got in mind. And one thing that worked for me, I got a few pilot students from talking to a manager.

So it's not just. Talking to people that want the course, but people who know or might know someone that wants the course. So the first strategy is get out there and beat the bushes and make some, put some energy into it. I'll also have that landing page updated and likely it'll start with Facebook ads.

Jacques Hopkins: You mentioned that you're doing all of this alone still. Do you have any plans to outsource any, any part of this?

Trevor Dimoff: I'm not good at releasing control, and I'm also not, I'm the kind of person that wants to learn how to do it. So first time through, I tend to want to do everything myself just to learn how to do it. So I don't have plans for that right now. It's something that I'm looking at it further, further down the road.

Jacques Hopkins: So now that you've, now that you've done all these steps that you've done, it sounds like you're on the right path. Obviously with courses it's, it's not necessarily something you just do one time and then just let it go and all of a sudden you're, you're a multimillionaire.

You're on version two and I'm sure there'll be a version three and so on. You've done a lot of things, right? For sure. For somebody that's like just starting out, you know, knowing the things that you know today, what advice would you have for somebody that's just starting out?

Trevor Dimoff: Talk to people, research calls, get on Skype, get on the phone and talk to people. Find out what, what they think as much as it's called the curse of knowledge. I know all of this stuff about songwriting, about core progressions, about music theory. I've a master's degree in composition. But I need to know how to communicate with somebody that's just getting started. So I have to put myself in their place.

I have to understand where they're coming from, and the best way to do that is talk to them. Talk to real life people, talk on the phone, talk on Skype. The research calls were were key for me in the initial stages. It helped me build out what I'm doing, and it helped me lay out a, lay out, a methodology for songwriting that works for people.

The second thing is to pilot. And the third thing I would say is pilot. Again, that's where I stepped off the path and that's what's delayed me so much.

Jacques Hopkins: Will Trevor, it's a, like I told you earlier, I do, I do teach people to kind of do discovery calls, research calls, whatever you want to call them, but one thing I really like about the strategy you're talking about is.

You weren't really trying to sell anything. The first first contact with people. It was literally a research call and I love that word for it. And then once you kind of collected the data and and had something to sell, then you, then you got back on the phone with some of those same people. Am I understanding that correctly?

Yes. Yeah. So I just love, I love that strategy and I think that's, that's by far my biggest takeaway here from this conversation. I appreciate you so much for sharing that information with us. So, look to kind of wrap things up. Let us know if there's anything else you want to share and, and where people can find you online.

Trevor Dimoff: You can find me [email protected] I've also set up a page for your listeners. so Epic songwriting.com/ocg online core sky. I'm just going to say that again for post a Epic songwriting.com/ocg online course guy, and there'll be a page for anything that we talked about and we'll do a quick summary of the research calls. The way I, the methodology that we talked about so that they can read it too.

Jacques Hopkins: Awesome. Thanks so much, Trevor.

Trevor Dimoff: You had no problem.

Jacques Hopkins: All right. That's it for episode 90 you can find all the links and show notes from today's episode by going to the online course guy.com/ninety and don't forget about all the cool things that I've told you about in the introduction of this episode at the online course, guy.com I've got a course for beginners.

I've got a mentorship program. For those of you that already have a course and are seeing some level of success. And I've got some cool tools and things that I use everyday with my online course business. You can find all of that at the online course, guy.com.

So thanks for joining me for another episode of the online course show, and I will see you next time.