A very special guest joined me on this very special 100th episode of The Online Course Guy. Way back when I started this podcast, I wasn’t sure where all this would lead. But I knew I would have loved to listen to this kind of podcast when I was a new course creator. Ever since then, I’ve been looking forward to celebrating this 100th episode milestone, and what better way to do that than to chat with the one and only Niki Hopkins – my wife!
It was definitely scary… we said we were going to give it a year.
I couldn’t have created my piano course without Niki, and it’s only fitting that today we discussed what this has looked like for our family and her perspective on online courses. Let’s dive in and hear her side of the story!
In This Episode, We Talked About:
- (4:20) What would be different about our lives if I had never gotten into online course creation
- (7:27) An example of how not working “normal jobs” gives us more freedom and flexibility
- (8:04) Niki’s business and how it evolved
- (10:52) How we respond to people who ask what I do for a living
- (12:57) Was Niki okay with me quitting my job before my online course was fully sustainable?
- (16:56) Her first thoughts when I initially told her about my idea for an online piano course – and some of my previous ideas that didn’t work out quite so well
- (18:06) Niki’s initial reaction to my strategy for course pricing
- (19:10) Wrapping up and a note of appreciation
I hope you enjoyed listening in to this conversation between me and Niki on what online courses have meant to our family. Thanks so much for being the reason why I do this podcast – and here’s to many, many more awesome episodes to come!
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 and I am so stoked to be bringing you episode 100 of this podcast. It's a huge milestone because I honestly, I didn't think that we'd ever get to this point. So I had the idea for this podcast several years ago because I thought that interviewing course creators would make for an awesome podcast, and it's something that I would've wanted to listen to myself as a huge podcast junkie and of course creator, but I was scared to reach out.
To other people, other course creators about coming on a podcast that wasn't really established yet. So I didn't do anything with the idea for a while, but then the opportunity came up a couple of years ago to coach someone and we made a deal that I would coach him for free in exchange for making these coaching sessions public on this podcast.
So that's how we got started here. If you listen to roughly the first 20 episodes or so of this podcast, it's just me and Nate Dodson of microgreens, farmer.com and I'm coaching him. Through this process of online courses. You can definitely go back and listen to those episodes because Nate made incredible progress during that time, and I know a lot of people do when they find the podcast, they go all the way back to episode one.
But keep in mind, my latest and greatest info and tips are in the more recent episodes. In fact, if you're just finding this episode, it is required listening to go back to episode 89 that is my online courses. One Oh one episode. So if you're coming in, and this is the first episode, you're listening to the podcast, great.
This is a good episode to listen to, but definitely also go back to and check out episode 89 so once this podcast was established, I had more confidence to reach out to other course creators. And so most of the episodes so far have been me interviewing other successful course creators in all kinds of niches.
But there's also some solo episodes where it's just me going over certain topics with you. There's other coaching calls that I've done. There's interviews with creators of some of my favorite online course tools. So it's really just been all things online courses through these first 99 episodes. So if you're here and you're listening right now, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you because if there was no one listening to this, I promise you that I would have stopped doing these episodes a long time ago.
But you are listening and I love doing this podcast, so here's to many more hundreds of episodes. Now, as far as today's episode goes, this is episode 100 and I wanted to do something a little special. The guests that I'm having on today is probably the most requested guests out there from you guys. She doesn't really like the spotlight that much show.
It took me a while to convince her to come on a but. Episode 100 is special, and so is she. So I thought this would be the perfect time to let you guys hear my wife's perspective on all of this. So my wife's name is Nikki. We've been married for eight years. We met back in college at LSU when we were both going to school for electrical engineering.
And look. Today is Sunday, September 22nd of 2019 this episode is going to come out in a couple of days on Tuesday, but we just finished recording a conversation. Me and my wife, the kids are currently napping, so we just sat down and turned the microphones on and had this conversation that you're about to hear and I really wanted to have her on.
And let her tell her side of, of how I got started in all this and how we live our lives now. So I really, really appreciate her. I really appreciate all of you out there. So for this milestone 100th episode, here is the online course girl in all of this, my wife Nikki Hopkins.
Hey, thanks so much for doing this with me.
Niki Hopkins: You're very welcome.
Jacques Hopkins: So look, I have a few questions I want to ask you and I want to see where this goes, but I want to start by asking you in your opinion, as I have my opinion, but like how would our life look different if I never got the idea for online course specifically? Obviously my piano course, like if I was still working that job as an electric engineer, like what would, what would be different about our life?
Niki Hopkins: Well, you would be working eight to five. So I would have a lot more, I guess, home responsibilities. Like now you take the kids to school a couple of days a week, and so I would be in charge of all of that. And then also just like random events that come up, like he kid's sick or whatever. Like I would be much more. 100% in charge of the kids, whereas right now it's like, I dunno, what would you say? 80, 20 during the week? And also vacations, you know, we go, or we've been on month long vacations and even a couple of weeks wouldn't be. Possible if you had like limited vacation, I guess from work.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. It's nice having like a. Being able to take off so much, but then also not having to report to anybody either. Like I don't have to request time off. Like I'm, I'm my own boss, and so we're constantly traveling and even if it's just little road trips to visit family, we're constantly doing those things so much that the people that are around here locally, like the people at the gym or our friends here, they're like. You guys travel a lot, like then you just go on vacation.
I think that's what one of the guys at the gym said when we could, we just got back from a Disney cruise and he's like, didn't you guys just go to like Europe or something? Like, you just went on vacation? I'm like, yeah, like it's a tough life, man. It's, it's hard.
Niki Hopkins: When all of our trips aren't Europe and Disney cruises, but even if we go to like my sister's house or something like that, it doesn't have to be just on the weekend. We can stay for.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. And when it is your sister's house, like I can work from there. Like I can touch base, you know, I do my bond jurors, you're familiar with the bond drawers that I send to people when they sign up for the course and like I have to, you know, Emily manages my emails and stuff, but there's always things for me in there that she can't do everything.
So there's things that I like to keep on top of, even when we are doing a little bit of traveling. This Disney cruise we went on here recently was tough because we were so disconnected. It was good and bad. Because it was nice to be disconnected, but the same time, I'm like, this hasn't really happened ever.
Like I told Emily before, I left, like, you've got a little more responsibility here because if something comes up significant, like we are completely disconnected, you know? Fortunately everything went well, right? Yeah. So I think, like I said, I think being able to just go travel as much as we do and then not have to, to report anybody to anybody and getting that permission to have time off is really cool.
I think overall just like the freedom of it is what's great for both of us. Cause I mean, you were working too. We were both electrical engineers and now neither of us are working normal jobs. That's pretty cool. And I know like our, our oldest daughter's teacher emailed us the other day. And was like, Hey you, she didn't, not very well.
She's been coughing a lot, this and that. She didn't, she didn't ask us to come pick her up, but I replied to that email. I was like, look, we're right down the road. Both of us stay home. Like anytime we need to come get her, it's super easy. I'm sure that she's hesitant normally to say, Hey, can you come pick up your daughter cause people are working and all that.
But that would be almost nothing for us. I wanted to make that clear to our teacher right. And it's just a, it's not normal, but this is really fun. So tell people what you do because you're not just a homemaker. You're not just a stay at home mom. Now. I mean, you are an electrical engineer for five years as well, but you're running your own business now too.
Niki Hopkins: Right. Maybe not on the scale of your business, but, yeah. I have a stationary paper company life has paper that I run with two of my sisters. They're in Alabama and we're in Louisiana and we, so invitations and stationery and yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: She doesn't, you don't have to pitch things as much as I do, so I'll pitch it for you. Life is paver.com the greatest paper products ever. The reason it's called life is paper is because we are so digital. And like I'm the online course guy and like I'm all about online and this and that. And that's one of the reasons we came up with the name life is papers cause everything's going more and more digital, but they're still very much a place for paper products, like birthday invitations, wedding invitations. There's way more than just that. Like what else? What else is there?
Niki Hopkins: Right. I mean, stationary, I don't know. I just like getting. Mail that isn't bills or junk mail, like when you get a handwritten letter, it's always exciting.
Jacques Hopkins: I completely agree. I think it's the coolest thing. I love, I love how we're like on the opposite ends of the spectrum there in terms of our two businesses, but yeah, life has paper.com you guys check it out for the non-digital side of things. It's awesome. We just did a local market last night. That was a lot of fun. Where you sold it did really well.
Niki Hopkins: Yeah. Yeah. It was a lot of fun to be able to sell. I mean, most of our stuff is online, but to sell to someone and hand them the product and see everyone is nice.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Yeah. And you actually, what's interesting is you actually started your business before mine, right? I think you started your business in 2011. I started mine in 2013 right. Do you remember how your business came about?
Niki Hopkins: Well, you, I guess we were both working engineer eight to fives and you were also going to university of Florida for your MBA online, and so that filled your, you know, five to dinner to bed time. And so I just needed something to do on the side. And I don't exactly know how it even came about, but I used, you know, engineer's numbers and all that all day. So just a creative outlet was nice.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I remember that you created our wedding invitations. We got married in 2011 and you like had a blast doing that and it just like really lit a fire in you. And I think that's kind of was like the first thing you put out there and then you started kind of doing it for some friends and family and then then you create an actual business out of it, a side hustle and that, that was eight years ago. And it's amazing to think about where it's calm, you know, people go to like life is paper.com.
It's a legit business like, and you have more than just wedding invitations now. Right? Right. So when people ask you what I do for work, what do you tell them?
Niki Hopkins: I don't know that I get asked that question a lot, but. I mean you teach piano courses online or a piano course digitally. Online is normally what I would tell them.
Jacques Hopkins: You don't tell them anything about the online course guy, not Dell.
Niki Hopkins: It's not unless they keep asking questions.
Jacques Hopkins: I think that's a, it's a little more straight forward or a little bit easier for people to understand the piano side of things. I, I, it's, I still don't have the best answer to that question myself yet.
Normally. I'll start with like I teach piano online and then normally people ask more questions about that. They think, when I say that they think it's still live, like it's Skype lessons one-on-one, and then I have to explain like it's no, it's a prerecorded course and that usually gets into a conversation about.
Courses in general. I mean, the, the guy that was next to your tent last night was selling his pottery and I was asking him, I was like, is this your full time thing now that you're doing? And he said, and he just kind of laughed like that would be such a farfetched thing for that to be full time for him.
He's a teacher and this is just a side thing that he likes to do. And that got into a whole conversation about courses because I've interviewed somebody. That is very, very successful in pottery courses on this podcast, and he hadn't, it never crossed his mind to not just do the pottery, but to teach it like in an online course.
I was telling him how that's so scalable and when you have an online course, it's. You have a global audience and not just, you know, our little city here where you can see people buy your coffee mugs and lamps and whatever else he was selling. Like, you can teach this and there's a market for it. And his biggest thing was, well, there's a lot of tools and materials people need to be able to get started with pottery.
But I told him, I look, there's probably a lot of people out there that have those tools already. I forget what the tools are called that use them. Obviously not a pottery expert, but they have the tools already and they don't have the instruction. The instruction is what they need right. It's the same with piano.
You know, a lot of people have the tool of piano. They don't have the instruction, they don't know how to play it, you know? Right, right. So next, let's jump back to kind of the benefits of our lifestyle and the course we have. Cause we touched on it a little bit. You mentioned the travel. I think one of the first really, really cool things that we did. I quit my job last day of 2015 and then in 2016 we moved to France for three months. You didn't even mention that. That was kind of the thing we did because we, for the first time, we could do something like that.
Niki Hopkins: Right? Yeah, that's true. I'm you weren't, your business isn't or wasn't where it is today. When we left, you were still working. I guess more. Or trying to work more.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. I would work on piano in 21 days, about three hours a day. While while we just, I was going to say kids, but we just had one kid at the time. Annecy our oldest was 10 months old when we went over there and kind of, we, we like to travel. Me and you like to travel. And because of work, we're always so limited in how long we can stay in one place. We were like, we want to go somewhere. One place and experience the culture there for as long as possible. And that number for us was three months, and we stayed in one city, Annecy France for three months.
Experienced the culture there. And, but yeah, like you said, it hadn't really taken off yet. I think when I quit my job, I was making about a thousand dollars a month. Right. Why were you okay with me quitting my job with my other thing only making $1,000 a month?
Niki Hopkins: Well, I don't know that I was really okay. it was definitely scary. I guess when I quit my job, I had a decent sized pension and we had some good savings. So like. I think we said we were going to give it a year, like we had enough saved to give it a year. And I think that's what made me okay with it is that, you know, I knew that we weren't going to be on the side of the street, you know, in a month or two.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. You didn't even mention we paid off our mortgage. That was the biggest thing for us. Like we were both making pretty good money as engineers and before we had kids, like that was one of our big goals. Like we followed Dave Ramsey stuff like to a T working up the baby steps. And one of the last baby steps is pay off your mortgage.
So anytime we get a bonus, right, end of year bonus, extra income raises like that would all go toward the mortgage. And that was a pretty cool day whenever we paid off the mortgage right before. Annecy was born.
Niki Hopkins: Yeah, it was. It was nice. And yeah, I agree. It allowed us, obviously we didn't have to have as much in savings and whatnot.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Cause we didn't have that like biggest bill still on the table. So we paid off our mortgage and we had, you know, you mentioned. When you, you had worked at one company for five years, so they actually still did pensions and so we had that money. We had other money we had saved up. So we were in a position to where we could live very, very, very frugally for a year, an entire year if it didn't work out.
So the way I like to look at things like that is like best case scenario, worst case scenario to me at the time, best case scenario was kind of where we are. It's like it's working. Making even more money than we were. Freedom. You know? We're our own bosses. Worst case scenario is basically out of work for a year and have to go back and find a job.
Niki Hopkins: Correct.
Jacques Hopkins: And we both decided that risking that worst case scenario for the best case scenario was worth it.
Niki Hopkins: Yeah, I agree.
Jacques Hopkins: But I know there was definitely a lot of hesitation.
Niki Hopkins: There was a lot of discussions, and I mean, I think if we didn't have the savings and didn't pay off our mortgage, I don't know that, you know, either one of us would have said yes. After looking at the risks, having just had a baby, et cetera, you know.
Jacques Hopkins: Where if if we decided that it wasn't the right move for me to quit my job, but still try to pursue piano in 21 days, do you think we would be here today?
Niki Hopkins: I guess that's hard to tell, but you had worked on piano. For a while, like it was a business and you kept saying you just needed more time to focus on it, which obviously was the case, so maybe not, but you were also determined to make it work. So maybe so.
Jacques Hopkins: Do you remember back when I came to you with the idea for my business for an online piano course? Do you remember what you initially thought about that idea?
Niki Hopkins: Who's going to pay for that?
Jacques Hopkins: That's one of my favorite stories. Yeah. I don't think you are against the idea. I didn't think, I don't think you thought it was a bad idea, but you were also skeptical in general because this was not my first business idea. Right. Do you remember some of the other like business ideas? Cause I've always been trying to create something like this.
Niki Hopkins: Right? I know a couple, I know you had like a standing desk. Something. Like a contraption to make your desk a standing desk. And the only other one maybe I remember is you had a blog or something.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Nothing. None of that made any money. None of that made even a dollar. But ever since really we met, cause I think. You know, I read the four hour work week. You've heard me talk about that book. Plenty. I read that probably not long after we met in, late in college and ever since reading that book, I've been trying to create something.
But it wasn't until I created a product that was like fully digital online course that, that it worked at all. But going back to what I said about one of my favorite stories about what you said was. You weren't against the idea of an online piano course, but one of your questions was like, how much are you going to charge for something like that?
And I look at you, I think I was like, I'm thinking, I'm not sure, but I'm thinking around $297 and what you said, I just, I, I'll always remember this. You're like, Ooh, in the hell is gonna pay that.
Niki Hopkins: Yeah. I don't know. Obviously, I'm not. One of your students. So it just doesn't interest me.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, you know, at the time it wasn't a bad reaction cause at the time there existed a few piano courses and most of them were like 20 or $40 and instead of trying to sell a lot, a lot, a lot of copies.
At a lower price. I wanted to sell fewer, get higher quality students, and sell it at a higher price. And fortunately that's worked out because it's still two 97 to this day for my middle package. And I even have a package that's four 97 that sells. So yeah, I liked, I liked her in the story because it didn't work out, and I think it was really cute the way you said it back then.
Yeah. So that's kind of the high points that I wanted to hit. I wanted to get your perspective on. The benefits of this because people listening to this are maybe not quite where I am. Maybe they're thinking about making online course. They're still working there full time job and maybe have a course and they're making some sales and it's not quite working, working out yet.
And so just some motivation to keep going. And that was the big thing for me is I could, I felt like I could see the benefits. I just wasn't there yet. I knew if I kept pushing, figuring out a way to make it work that we could get here and we're here. I wanted to get your perspective on that. I wanted to get.
let people hear like what you do and a little bit about your business as well. You're welcome. And, and I think we've hit those. So I appreciate you, appreciate you doing this. I definitely, I know. Yeah. You probably, the audience out there, you probably won't hear from her ever again on this podcast. I had to twist her arm to do this.
Niki Hopkins: Yes, I know.
Jacques Hopkins: But, I appreciate it very much and I definitely wouldn't be. In this position without you. So thank you for all your support. Really appreciate it. Is there anything else that you feel you could provide value to the audience with at this point?
Niki Hopkins: Probably not. Sorry guys.
Jacques Hopkins: Thank you so much, babe.
Niki Hopkins: You're welcome.
Jacques Hopkins: And that's it for this episode. Please, please, please check out my wife's awesome [email protected] and if you have a kid's birthday party coming up or a wedding, we need some thank you cards or there's all kinds of other stuff paper-wise at life as paper.com check that out. We'd both really, really appreciate your business there.
For all of the show notes from today's episode, you can head over to the online course, guy.com/ 100 and please, if you're not already, come hang out with us in the official Facebook group for this podcast. We talk all things online courses there, and if you're a course creator or thinking of creating a course yourself.
And not in that Facebook group, then you are definitely missing out. You can search for the online course community on Facebook or just go to the online course, guy.com and click on community right at the top. So thanks again to my wife for being awesome and being willing to share on this episode.
And I will catch you guys next week for more online course show.