Recently, I had the chance to talk with Louise Dean about the story behind her successful novel-writing course and how her passion has become her business. Louise had a fascinating start to her online course journey, and shared some great tips and tools that could be useful no matter what your niche is.
Proceed with glee! . . . Keep it really personal, really friendly, really truthful and honest.
I’d love to hear what you found most interesting about this interview – feel free to drop me a line and let me know.
In This Episode, We Talked About:
- (4:04) The social experiment that eventually prompted Louise to create her first online course
- (6:17) How Louise found a group of people willing to take her novel-writing challenge
- (7:20) Why she sets a time limit for the structure of her course
- (9:01) How her original course compares to her current course iterations
- (10:01) How Louise has set up her course content
- (10:37) Why she provides additional courses beyond her 90-day offering
- (13:38) Louise’s challenge to me – this one took me by surprise!
- (14:14) How many students she’s had to date and how she continues to find more
- (15:40) The built-in review-gathering process in her course
- (16:11) Louise’s favorite tools and services
- (18:31) Scheduling and marketing on Instagram
- (19.39) How Louise stays on top of things without a traditional team in place
- (20:37) Her advice for new or struggling course creators
Thanks for listening and learning along with me today. Stay tuned for another great episode coming soon!
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, jock Hopkins, and welcome to another episode of the online course show. Today's episode is called the right way to turn your passion into a successful online course, and it's called that because the majority of this episode will be an interview with a success story and online course creator success story.
Her name is Louise Dean, and she seems to have just done everything the right way. She is a writer. She was a writer for many, many years and one is to start teaching that she wanted to teach other people how to write novels as opposed to actually writing novels, being her main thing. And then just two and a half years, she has hundreds of successful students.
She's getting all five star reviews. She's getting all kinds of testimonials back from people. And her main way of marketing is just through word of mouth. So that's, I just feel like she's done everything the right way. She had so many, so much less roadblocks going through this process than I've had in a lot of people have had.
And so if you kind of want to follow a story of somebody that I feel has done just about everything the right way, this is a great episode for you guys to listen to. One thing that we talked about a good bit in this episode is tools. Some of our favorite tools. That we like to use as online course creators, and I want to tell you guys about something that I've been working on and I just put out a new list of tools, some of my favorite software tools at the online course, guy.com just head there.
Click on tools at the top, or you can just go straight to the online course, guy.com/tools and there you'll find my top 10 tools. For course creators. A lot of them you've heard me talk about on this podcast before, and on that page you'll see a description of why I use that particular tool, and for some of them I am an affiliate for it, but not all of them.
And you'll see that listed there, which ones I'm going affiliate for, which ones I'm not. And for some of the ones that I am an affiliate for, just to provide you a little extra incentive to sign up for that tool if it makes sense for you. I am offering certain bonuses. For example, you'll see click funnels on the list, and you've heard me talk about that before.
When you sign up for click funnels through my affiliate link, you get all of my piano in 21 days, templates that I use, order form, course funnels and so on. And you also get a course on how to use click funnels, for course creators. Active campaign is there, which you'll get my exact email scripts for loaded into your active campaign if you choose to use my link.
Of course, deadline funnel is there. Hopefully many of you listened to the last episode, but Chuck borne the creator of deadline funnel, and that was just a fantastic conversation about . Evergreen funnels. So if you missed that, that was episode 96 I highly recommend that, and I highly recommend that you sign up deadline funnel.
If you already have an online course that's more of an advanced tool, but there's 10 listed there. Head over to the online course, ky.com/tools and you'll see them all there. And I'm also working on a YouTube video on this exact same topic, so be on the look out for that video coming out soon with those tools listed in a little more details about why I use each and every one.
Now moving on to the conversation with Louis Dean. Like I said, she's a writer. She writes novels, and now she's helping all kinds of people write novels of their own. She even told me that I could write a novel. I don't know that I believe her, but I like her. It was a pleasure. Have a conversation. So let's get on to the full conversation with Louise Dean right now.
Hey Louise, welcome to the online course show.
Louise Dean: Thank you for having me.
Jacques Hopkins: It's my pleasure. So Louise, how did, how did you get into online courses? Going from a writer, and I'm sure all kinds of cool things in your background to having a presence in online courses.
Louise Dean: Well, I was very slow with a novel. They've been taking a few years and it was really confounding me and I was beginning to think that rush on my own might not be, well, literally sort of sitting in a cardigan and sweatpants for years on end might not be the best way to form connections with real people so that you understand them from literature.
So I thought, God, I need a community and I need some feedback on my writing. At this point. I've been writing for nearly 20 years. so the course was really simply, I put out a shout to say, look, I'm going to write a novel in 90 days because I really need to kick my own butt and get a novel done. And Stephen King reckons the season best way to write a novel.
So who wants to write one with me at the same time? So that was never had any intention. It's that was a good two and a half years ago now. Never had any intention to actually stuff, of course. But what I did was during those 90 days, I recorded myself talking about the process. So every morning there's bouts of 10 50 minutes with me describing what I'm going to do that day and how, why I'm fat formed the backbone of the course, which is now greatly expanded.
Jacques Hopkins: I love. I love that because it's this whole community feel you're doing the thing too. You know, I have a course called piano in 21 days, and unfortunately I couldn't reach out to my audience and say, I'm going to learn piano over the next 21 days. Who wants to join me because I already know how to play.
Right, but for you, like you can never, you can never stop writing novels. Like there's always another novel you can write right.
Louise Dean: Yeah, absolutely. And what's amazing, I mean, there's so many things you don't understand about writing and how much it's like plumbing or any other skill based thing that you learn.
But every novel is new. I'm just like, goes into a house and it's always different. So there's always the sort of appetite when you stopped getting in a hunger in a sense learning. I'm really awakened curiosity and I think we've kind of bottled that in the course. It's a very joyful experience.
Jacques Hopkins: Now, if somebody is listening to this and they're thinking that this is a good idea that whatever their thing is that they either have a course on already, or once I have a course on, it's like, okay, let's do this actively with an audience first.
You know, five, 10 however many people. Let's all go through this process together. Wait, I don't have anybody to ask to do this. Who did you reach out to initially and say, let's write a book in 90 days together?
Louise Dean: Well, I had a few friends. I still have very few friends and I reached out to those that were interested in writing.
And then because I've been member cologne listed and I've won some awards, my writing the books seller picked up on the story and ran it as a sort of feature member for authors, asked to give to write a novel within 90 days. then the phones kind of went crazy, and I had just set up a very basic system, which is, you know, much, much better now, but using Kajabi online courses and yeah, so, you know, soon I gathered, I think there were about 50 or 60 in the beginning who wrote with me.
Jacques Hopkins: Wow. That's awesome. And why 90 days?
Louise Dean: Well, again, the season is great when you're writing because there's a real mood to season and you kind of want to hold a book inside of a mood. If you let a book go on for years, you're prone your first section to everything you read and experienced. And the book becomes kind of flabby and complex and overly long.
So to get a first draft down of a novel, it's good to do it fast and keep it tight so that you are true to the storyline. And so seasons just right, you've got a mood that's contained by autumn or spring or summer, and 90 days is enough to, with a sense of word count every day, to get the traditional size and level down, which is 7,000 words.
So you can do that constantly in Manch days. And it's just people think that you write a novel that, you know, people are in their attics, necrotic guns and sweatpants. Like I was sort of a feast and famine, you know, Racine for hours on end. And that is not the way to write a novel. The great authors wrote their novels slow and steady.
So you have grand green, for instance, he wrote 500 words a day and an hour and a half, and he literally put his pen down. I have the 500th word literally stopped and he wrote from an hour and a half daily, pretty much all of his lines. That is how you write a novel. So the other reason for 90 days is that it is a truism, but a good one.
But you form a habit in 90 days. So what I want for my writers is to form a writing habit of about my lifetime. And that is the slow and steady go every day for an hour, just one hour. Most of my writers write at some art or first thing in the morning. They like to get it done. Yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: So how does the 90 day course that exists today compare to that original version that you first put out there?
Louise Dean: Well, there's the original videos, which were, I wanted to make it very, very hard for me so that it would, everybody would see they could do this. So I had two jobs at the time. I had a house full of children, and so I was getting up at five to write my novel for Iowa.
Then I was teaching the course on the way to work, recording it with hands, free, phone talking, and sometimes in the mornings, first thing at home, I was recording it. And then I was doing a days where I'm coming home and then working in the evenings on writing the course materials. So I wanted to make it as hard for me as possible so that anyone, no matter what their day job or what their commitments at home are, can find the outlets, write the novel.
So since then it's expanded in the sense that there are a lot more materials and there are some really nice tools inside the course that people can use to pull their novel together.
Jacques Hopkins: If I were to sign up for the course today, is it evergreen in that my day one would basically be today? Or do you have cohorts that are all going through it at the same time period?
Louise Dean: But the minute you sign up on drip seed, so you get a lesson a day, but you get 10 lessons the minute you check in getting ready to write a novel, but you don't start writing seven days. So the sense of panic that people have when they sign up quickly diminishes when they realize it's pretty cozy, very doable. Every day you sort of tick off what there is to do and your confidence grows. Within about seven days.
Jacques Hopkins: I was always browsing your website and your course offerings. It looked like you obviously want people to sign up for that 90 day course, but you also have other course offerings, right? Well, what are your other course offerings.
Louise Dean: Well, they're all around the idea of writing a novel. There'll sort of bolt on things. We now take writers from no idea what they're going to write all the way through a process to a literary agents desk with partnered up now with literary agents. Last year, some very well known agents. London found me and said, look, can we have first dibs on the work that's coming out of your course?
And we kind of great things better. Some of my writers have been shortlisted for awards at the moment, all excitedly way to give news. And my writers have got agents and got publishing contracts. So we take them all the way through. So there's a course help you come up with the idea called the classic course, and you dig down into your childhood favorite reading and experience and the tales that you love and come up with a story that only you were meant to write.
That's the 45 lesson course that we've had. Huge success. We've had a few of our writers been misted for box children's novel award, take them out, and it's very original. You know, there is no other course that does that. So then after they take Mack Hussein Mudge with plan. lots of material and they take the 19 novel.
Right. that idea out. And then finally we have an editing your novel course, which takes off after they've finished the first drop, their novel, my writers, I make them take a break from month and raise the game again with good reading. Then we go back to the manuscript as readers. rather than rights.
FreshAir buys all community, hundreds of writers now worldwide. Some are best seller writers. They get their eyes on, it gets points of view on them. The writers come back to me after taking the editing course, you go through first three chapters, and if it's ready to submit to agents, then I'll submit it on their behalf.
So no slush files for our writers. None that fast tracked the agents. I work with eight leading literary agencies. The deal is. But they get back to me within two weeks because I won't mind ride that royalty.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, I don't know much about writing a novel. That's not something that I have on my resume. But it sounds like you cover all aspects of it with your different course offerings from coming up with an idea to actually writing that first draft and then on the back end, the editing part.
So it, I mean, it was that your goal is to cover the full spectrum of what you could.
Louise Dean: Yeah, exactly. It's not fractions for writers and they get lost in the world of the years and don't know if their writing is any good. And I wanted to remove that sort of doubt and worry from the process entirely. So the minute they join the novel race, they're on a very safe farm and they will make it, if they read fiction, they can write novels and they will make it if they want to do the work.
And if you love the craft, which I hope will, my writers. Do after they finish the match day, no. Of then you will make Kat.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. You just said something very interesting. If you'd like to read fiction, then you can write a novel. Is that what you said? Because I like to read, but I, I mean, come on. There's no way I could write a novel.
Louise Dean: Sounds like a challenge. Act elected you over cause you can, the only thing can't handle is people who don't read fiction, they're just not going to write a novel. It's ridiculous. But if you read fiction, you can write a novel.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. The next great scifi novel coming by Jacques Hopkins. All right. So that's, that's awesome. It sounds like you've had a lot of success with the course, and by you having a lot of success, that means your students about a lot of success. Can you give me just a ballpark number about how many students you had go through your courses.
Louise Dean: I've got over 120 at the moment, writing with me. And yeah, I mean, it's ongoing. We've, we've very, very busy at the moment. We've got a lot of sign ups, but that's great. And I work one by one with all of my writers, that exception. So I track progress, but books and chaps them maybe two weeks live, just like you and I are doing right now. So one of the biggest areas people struggle with online courses in whatever niche that they have is getting students right. They might be the world's best at whatever they do and whatever they teach. And it sounds like you're not really having a problem getting students into your courses. What, what do you think the secret is there?
Well, people are quite amazed as you were just sort of expressing, can I really write a novel that so amazed and they're so thrilled that they spread the words. So we've never had anything but a five star review. You can have a look on Google and Facebook reviews and see that which I can't manage or massage or interfere with.
So you can see the old French style and I'll testimonials and our website will show you that people are just so delighted because. Often, perhaps a little bit like wanting to create a channel. This is a hankering to people. It's, you know, it's a real Bishan first something. I love that. Dare not speak its name usually. So, you know, they're just delighted. So it's, it's word of mouth recommendation.
Jacques Hopkins: Speaking of testimonials, reviews, do you have any advice for getting people to actually do that for you, providing you with testimonials for your course?
Louise Dean: Yeah. I do ask my right is towards the end of the course, fill in an evaluation form and let me know what they think. And then at the end of the course, I asked them to review the course. I'm on Google and Facebook,
Jacques Hopkins: so, so it's just kind of built into the existing process of going through the course.
Louise Dean: Yeah. Right. At the very end. Ask since they wouldn't mind and usually at that very happy.
Jacques Hopkins: You mentioned earlier that you use Kajabi for delivering your courses. Why did you select called Kajabi?
Louise Dean: Well, I had a good look round and I didn't want to use word press, but knows that building a website with WordPress. Various sort of functionalities of of boats on things and they just didn't work. I played around for about a month and a half, so I was thrilled when I came across to JB, which was a little bit in its infancy two and a half years ago, but they have rolled out me features pretty much weekly. It's quite stunning the growth of Kajabi and its functionality.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. So speaking of tools, what other tools, software platforms, are you as a course creator enjoying and getting use out of?
Louise Dean: Oh, I'm not off my apps and suffering website at dot com there is a page on app for writers, so I won't go into those because you know, writing those up.
But there's some fabulous apps, psoriasis there. But, so if you're running a course, then I like cheese plus forums. For my community. The reason I like that, cause they can upload material, which is important with writing, but it's very simple, intuitive piece of software. Very nice. I use acuity, and I use zoom for my one-to-one sessions.
Acuity seems to link very nicely and my right to up chat with me. I'm using a cutie. What else do I use? I Lovell, I love scared, which I, my Instagram page is very much the writing life as lived by great authors. They're really inspirational and hopefully people think it's very pretty as well. And I used to schedule my friends that always look nice, and I use I F F T to send.
In France, Facebook, and Twitter, which really helps. And then, you know, we all love to hate it, but haven't found anything back in Facebook groups. So actually managing my group, again, the functionality is just super. And then I use Canva for a lot of artwork, and I love the fact you can do movies and gifts with them now. yeah, I think that's pretty much the Roundup for that, but I'm always open to suggestions.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I love my tools as well, sometimes to a fault because you know that monthly bill can rack up for sure, but I've got plenty that I love and a lot of the ones you mentioned, I do use one I want to ask you about SCAD.
I think you said I have a, I have somebody that works for me that does the Instagram stuff, and we're not scheduling anything. We just post them. The last time I looked into it, which was a while ago, it was, it looked like Instagram didn't really offer scheduling. Is that, is that something they've changed.
Louise Dean: No, they don't. That's why you use it. The scared software is useful. I mean, there are those things like food sweets that I hate because they're overly complex. They're just really not intuitive. That scared is super injured, so SKED and you just fill it up. It's lovely. You just create your art. Fill it up. You set your schedule for when you want it to draw and it takes care of it. And then if you use IFFT as well, send those Instagram posts forward. Your like pretty simple . Yeah, I mean,
Jacques Hopkins: people listening to this know I'm all about automation, so that's really cool. And Instagram used to, I think just block even any software from allowing you to actually do the posting scheduled posts.
I think they would allow software to maybe create the draft for you. We'd still have to go in there manually hit posts, but it sounds like maybe they've changed that. That is great. So you're doing a lot. You've had a lot of success here. I've got to believe you've got a team working with you.
Louise Dean: The team is me and my dog, my dog. He keeps me saying no, it's just me. But the lovely thing about the community is so hands on, so loving and sports with each other. Who are the people who joined in the sesh year? We're kind of in year three now, so the six prefects senior roles in the school. So if they catch anyone smoking behind the bike sheds, they turned them in and new members who look a bit lost, they send them the right way. So I get a lot of voluntary help and support from the other.
Jacques Hopkins: Sounds like you're a, you're absolutely killing it there, Louise. I'm pretty, I'm pretty amazed to hear that you don't even have a team helping you with all this. Well, in the true sense of the word, but it sounds like you've got such a loyal following there that you've got the help that you may need here and there.
So next I want to ask you about any advice you have for people out there listening to this. Maybe you're just getting started. They're like, you were two and a half years ago, and they have a base idea, or maybe it's somebody that has a course already and they're struggling. What advice do you have for the course creators and aspiring course creators out there? Yeah. I
Louise Dean: would say proceed with Lee. Do what you do with mischief in your eyes, and a lot of fun and hot people don't need more corporate kind of face places to shop online, or they're looking for a friendship and a mentor who's kind of on their side like comrades. So I've found the most popular pop, my course is the, believe it or not, it's hard for me to leave, but the videos.
Well, I explain house ration over with in the flow. So if you liked the video blog, and so I would say keep it really personal, really friendly, really truthfully honest. Always put my hands up when I make a mistake. And I do say all the times where my writers, I'm giving you tools, not rules, and anyone who tells you that there's one way to write a book is having you on the lows ways. And I'm going to show you the ones that I think are really great, but you choose what works. You treat people. Be honest. Otherwise, don't do it.
Jacques Hopkins: That's great advice. Louise. This has been a pleasure. If I ever do decided to write a novel, I know where I'm going. It's probably going to be years in the future, but we will see. So look, thanks for your time to wrap things up. Let us know if there's anything else you want to share and where people can find and connect with you online.
Louise Dean: So how do I watch the novelty.com turn up with no idea tool? That's my favorite kind of Rancho. The one who comes like a blank page will get you and double down within a season.
Jacques Hopkins: Thanks Louis. All right. That is going to do it for episode 97 of the online course show. To find all the detailed show notes and links that we talked about in this episode, you can head over to the online course, guy.com/ 97. And remember to check out those tools at the online course, guy.com and just head up to the menu right at the top and click on tools. You'll see a list of my top 10 recommended tools for course creator, and just a little description of why I use it. These are tools that I use pretty much each and every day for my online course.
Business, and some of them you do get a little bonus if you sign up for them with my affiliate link, she'll go ahead and check that out. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I'll be back with more episodes of the online course show real soon.