Sometimes the journey is the destination, and that’s especially true for our guest today. Leah Gervais is founder of Urban 20 Something and an online course creator who’s learned firsthand what it means to turn life experience into teaching tools that can help others.
Having happy customers is better than a good funnel.
Leah provided some great food for thought about how simple online course setup can possibly be and much, much more. I was super-impressed by how she handles certain aspects of her business, and I think you will be too.
In This Episode, We Talked About:
- (1:41) An update and a funny story from David
- (5:08) A shoutout to one of my course students who hit an important milestone recently
- (6:43) What I’ve been working on recently and how I’m expanding my team
- (9:47) Today’s core content – my interview with Leah Gervais
- (10:46) How Leah got into the world of online courses
- (16:39) A look at how she has her courses set up
- (20:13) An example of courses that don’t need a coaching component
- (21:07) Why Leah offers separate coaching services
- (23:15) Talking revenue, messaging, and more
- (25:56) Does Leah do her own discovery calls?
- (26:55) Getting in front of the right people
- (29:54) Automations and options
- (32:10) Leah’s team
- (33:20) Her advice for new and aspiring course creators
- (35:23) Where to find Leah online
- (36:08) Takeaways from how Leah got started compared with our own experiences
- (38:05) My top-ranking blog post, plus thoughts on content repurposing
- (41:26) The unusual way that Leah has set up her courses
- (43:09) Something that jumped out at me during the interview
- (45:10) Wrapping up
Thanks for listening and learning along with us today. Stay tuned for another great episode coming soon!
Jacques Hopkins: Episode one ten of the online course show is brought to you by Bonjoro. Bonjoro makes it crazy easy to quickly send a short video to anyone with an email address. And let me tell you the best way to use this as a course creator is have it set up to where when anybody buys your course. A task is automatically created in the Bonjoro app, and then each day you can just log in and quickly and easily send a short video message to everyone that bought your course the day before.
That’s what I do each and every morning, and I can tell you my students greatly appreciate it and I highly recommend you do the same thing. You can get started with a free 14 day trial of Bonjoro by going to bonjoro.com/jacques that’s bonjoro dot com slash J A C Q U E S.
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 Jacques Hopkins, and this is the Online Course Show.
And off we go. Welcome aboard. Glad you’re with us. This is the online course show. I’m your host Jacques Hopkins, and here with me is our cohost David Krohse.
David Krohse: Hey, what’s up?
Jacques Hopkins: Hey David, and we’re excited to dive into all things online courses with you today. David, we are on episode 110 here today.
David Krohse: Awesome.
Jacques Hopkins: How are you doing? What’s been going on with you the past few days or past week?
David Krohse: I’ve been doing great. I haven’t done much with my main online course, but I was looking at my chiropractic office and realized that I was kind of, somebody joined my email newsletter.
I really didn’t have anything beyond just a single email file follow up. And so I’ve been working on like kind of like a email series and I might even turn it into a lead magnet type of course, just to get people that hit my website to join. And so I created the first email about two weeks ago where I’d go over everything I know about how to experience less stress.
And then on Sunday I spent way too much time working on how to improve nutrition. And quite frankly, I probably overshared I shared some pretty funny stuff. I dunno. Do you want to hear one of the funny stories that I told?
Jacques Hopkins: As long as it’s actually funny, man.
David Krohse: We’ll see. We’ll see what you think.
Jacques Hopkins: We can always edit out if it’s not funny. So I’ll be the judge of it.
David Krohse: Sounds good. So I was talking about food sensitivities, and I told this story when I first met my wife Val, we would go out on these dates and I would think everything was going great. And then she’d have me drop her off at like eight thirty at night.
And so after like six weeks of hanging out, like we’d still never hung out beyond by like nine o’clock at night. And so I was like, Val, I’m like, these dates are going great. Why don’t we hang out later? Why do you have me drop you off so early? And Val looked embarrassed and she said, it’s embarrassing, but I get this terrible gas.
And she said, I am so bloated. It’s painful. So I just, I can’t stand it any longer. And so I looked at Val, I said, I said, Val, I like you like and this. It’s natural. I said, just let it go. And famous last words. I’m talking about green cloud. I just don’t know how it’s such terrible smells could come out of such a beautiful girl.
I’m a hundred percent serious here, but anyways, so, so this went on and we were listening to a podcast by Ben Greenfield. Have you ever heard [of] him?
Jacques Hopkins: Yup. I listen to it.
David Krohse: Yeah, you need to get him on the podcast. He’s like, I don’t actually listen to him on a regular basis, but he’s like the O G, O G of online course sales essentially.
And we were listening and he talked about, he had a guest on and was talking about the FODMAPs. And essentially these are foods that like pull water into your intestines and like cause a fermentation process. So like beans would be the most obvious one. But in the list of these FODMAP foods, there’s the sugar alcohols, like maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol.
Anyways, Val, like we listened to the podcast and looked at the list and she’s like, Oh my gosh, I choose sugar free gum after dinner every time we hang out. And she stopped chewing sugar free gum and it was like, problem solved. And so it was just unbelievable. And yeah, so she’s, she’s the FODMAP sensitive person.
And so, I mean, figuring that out, it made our, our dating life. Incredibly much better. So that was one of the little valuable things that I shared, and I asked my wife ahead of time if I could share that, and she said yes. So she’s all about, she’s super natural that she’s all about people having a healthy digestion.
Like when somebody got married, she wanted to give them a squatty potty, was like her, her wedding gift of choice. So.
Jacques Hopkins: Oh yeah, Squatty potty. No, that is, that is a funny story, man. And I appreciate your wife being willing to allow you to share that. Does she still listen to this podcast?
David Krohse: Well, we listened to it the last couple of Fridays now that I’m on here.
Jacques Hopkins: She’s gonna. She’s gonna have to listen to this episode for sure.
David Krohse: Oh yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, thank you for sharing that over here, man. I’ve got a few things going on. First of all, I want to give a shout out to my course on courses and a gentleman by the name of Moshay. I hope I’m not butchering his name, but he posted in the free Facebook group, the online course community today.
He said been on biz for a while, but we just made our first sale following Jacques’s funnel and methods. We spent a good while building the funnel. Only later did I see that he gives it away for free. We had a bunch of leads go through the funnel and finally a sale. Thank you, Jacques. So well done to Moshay and for those that aren’t familiar, the online course accelerator, which is my course on how to do courses is essentially free at this point. I think you, you were one of the first people to sign up for my course a couple of years ago, David, and it wasn’t free back then, but it is now, and I’ll be honest with you, I love the way it is now because you basically have to buy expert secrets to get in, which is seven dollars and ninety nine cents through my affiliate link and then I’ll let you in. A lot of the people that sign up for the course end up signing up for click funnels through my affiliate link, and it’s more valuable to me, like financially worth it when somebody does that versus paying me nine hundred and ninety seven dollars because usually somebody’s in it for the long haul with click funnels.
David Krohse: Yeah. Well, and it creates a win win situation. So I think it’s a good model and I’m super excited every time I see somebody post a win, I’m super excited to see that.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Hopefully. Hopefully we get more and more of those people posting in the, in the group more and more wins. That first sale.
That first sale feels amazing.
David Krohse: Exactly.
Jacques Hopkins: So I wanted to give that shout out. I have been, I’m focused a lot on video here. I think I’m going to have a big year in 2020 with video, lots of video, and I’ve been working really hard on my video background. Most of my videos in the past year, I have this really nice wall, this like white shiplap wall in my office, and I have my logo on the wall, but that’s it.
And I’ve been just really playing with. What all, what else can I add to the video background? I ordered a bunch of things on Amazon. I’ve been designing it on paper here and I’m excited to to get that going. And per a recent episode with Jason Deon, where he talked about hiring full time people in the Philippines, I do have somebody working now full for me full time.
His official title is video and audio editor, so he will be editing this podcast going forward as well as all of my video content going forward. So super excited about that as well.
David Krohse: Tell me more about like what’s going on with your team. So you have the person that responds to emails, but do you really have enough work for this guy to be a full time employee?
Jacques Hopkins: Oh, Emily. Emily is way more than somebody that responds to email. She…
David Krohse: Oh, sorry.
Jacques Hopkins: She, no, you’re good. She, I mean, I kinda think of her almost like a operations manager to an extent. I mean, she’s doing all kinds of. You know from daily reports to. She, she does, she does a little of everything. She, she makes sure the, the, basically the train stays on the tracks with, with, with everything.
And then with my new hire and I’ve kind of contractors doing all kinds of things in all kinds of places. You know, an SEO guy and AdWords, and I have a graphics editor and this and that. I felt like it was finally to the point where I could use somebody dedicated to me full time for video and audio, and I think that’s also going to be motivation to do even more of do even more videos knowing I have this person ready and waiting to do good work for me. Let’s do it.
David Krohse: That’s awesome.
So what are going to be the main focuses of each video? Like you have something that’s just going to give you recurrent content, like are you able to just like teach people how to play a popular song, or is that where you run into copyright issues?
Jacques Hopkins: Well, YouTube has their own built-in copyright protection, so that’s not a problem. But that does somewhat go gets my branding cause with piano in 21 days, I always tell people like, I don’t want you to have to keep coming back to me every time you want to learn a new song. My goal is to show you how to learn new songs on your own.
So individual tutorials don’t necessarily go well with my brand, but I just want to be able to consistently put out content on both my piano in 21 days YouTube channel, as well as the online course guy YouTube channel. But, there’s more places I have video than that. There’s videos throughout my marketing, whether it’s like a PLF style launch or blog post or videos associated with a webinar or course content as well.
I’m always updating like the online course accelerator or different parts of piano in 21 days, and I think video in general is only going to get bigger and bigger and more and more important going forward, and I want to be a part of that.
David Krohse: Now, that definitely makes sense.
Jacques Hopkins: So David, let’s move on to the core content of today, and that is an interview with Leah Gervais.
Hope I’m saying that correctly. So I had a conversation. I interviewed Leah and she is, she runs urban20something.com and you know, we can talk about this after, but just to kind of tease it a little bit, one really interesting thing I found about the conversation about her story is that she started this blog just because she was going down this path.
She thought she was going to be a lawyer, and then she’s like, ah. Is this normal paths, not for me. So she started a blog just to kind of chronicle her journey of where she would end up in a nonconventional path. And what’s funny is that, that very blog turned out to be the thing that is her full time income now. I thought that was very interesting. So let’s go ahead and play that full conversation with Leah and then we’ll come back on the back end and talk about it. So let’s go ahead and play the full conversation right now.
Hi Leah. Welcome to the online course show.
Leah Gervais: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me.
Jacques Hopkins: Tell me how you got into the world of online courses.
Leah Gervais: Well, my name is Leah and I am the founder of a website and a company called urban 20 something. And when I started my website, it was a blog. It was truly a classic quarter life crisis kind of blog and I was, I don’t know how detailed you want me to get with this story. I’ll try to be try to fast forward to the course part pretty quickly, but I was at a very confusing time in my life where I was working as a paralegal and I really thought I wanted to go to law school. That’s what I thought I wanted to do since I was in high school. And then working at a law firm made me realize I did not want to go to law school at all. But I didn’t really know what else I wanted to do. And I was living in New York. I wanted to be in New York. It was very clear to me. I love, love, love it here still!
Almost 10 years, I can’t believe it. And so I decided to start a blog, urban 20 something to write about my confusion as a 20 something in New York and my kind of quest to find a fulfilling career here and find a, a lifestyle that really is complemented by the city, not kind of taken down by the city, which is very easy to, to find, you know, you see people really get burnt out here.
But I was young and determined that I wanted to be here, but I didn’t want to go to law school but I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. So I started urban 20 something and it just sort of wrote about it. And there’s kind of a lot in between, but just for the sake of answering your question about a year into it is when I would say that I started thinking about online courses and monetizing it in a more strategic way.
Up to that point, I had monetized my site a little bit. I had done some freelance writing from it and just sort of freelance web design based on what I had built and some like affiliate links and stuff. But I had grown an email list and I knew pretty quickly actually, that a digital and online courses to be a lot more scalable than any sort of service I can offer.
So I think I made about two online courses in that first year, and they did okay, but they didn’t really do that well at all. And so then I kind of took my business in a different direction. I also felt like. I was still finding my footing because, you know, like I said, I had started it as a blog, so I hadn’t really started it with the intention of it turning into a business and it was feeling like I, you know, I knew I wanted to do it in a way that felt still aligned with the reason I had started it to begin with.
So I started experimenting different things and you know, can ask them to let me know if there’s anything specific you want to hear. But long story short, now I sell online courses based on the business I’ve built and how I’m able to help others build businesses as well, especially businesses that can, one, make them more than they’re making it their nine to five so they can leave their nine to fives and two that really compliment their lifestyle because that was very important to me when I started in [inaudible]. I really kept that value there.
Jacques Hopkins: Don’t you worry, I have plenty of follow up questions based on what you just said now, jumping back, you said that you didn’t want to kind of pursue that normal path, didn’t want to go to law school. I can definitely relate to that.
I was a, I was an engineer and I just like, I don’t want to go down this normal path. I need to find something else. What, what? Why were you drawn to a blog? Like of all the things you could’ve done that weren’t a normal path, why a blog?
Leah Gervais: I think I did try a few different things. You know, at that point I had applied for a few other jobs in New York, like in the nonprofit sector, because I, I eventually, my plan with going to law school was to go to law school, like do the thing, be a corporate lawyer.
So long as I could pay back my law school loans, which would have been very expensive and then go save the world as a lawyer, you know, like go work for the UN or whatever. Very naive. My life. So I was still drawn to nonprofit work and I kind of apply for jobs there, but I couldn’t really find anything that felt great.
I ended up leaving the country for a long time by myself and traveling to kind of see if that could give me any clarity, but a blog, you know, at the time wasn’t meant to supplement my career or be my career. It was really just meant to be an outlet as I did this, and I felt very alone at the time because I was working at a law firm.
I was dating my now husband, who at the time was also a lawyer. It was just really kind of the life I had surrounded myself with because it’s what I thought I had wanted for so long. So I felt isolated and I felt disconnected, but I knew that that could, could not be really the reality. And then just, you know, make, to make my point even more clearer. A lot of my friends from college weren’t lawyers, but I still felt like they were on good paths considering what they had graduated in and what they had wanted to do. They all seemed like they were at companies that they liked, they were excelling. And so the idea for me to turn down law school after taking the LSATs twice, working as a paralegal since I graduated. You know, going through undergrad thinking this is what I was going to do it felt like I was going back to being 18 again. And even my friends that weren’t being lawyers, they, you know, they felt so much further along than me, which now looking back is a little bit melodramatic because like I was 23 who the hell knows what they’re doing with their life anyway, but it felt scary at the time.
So I wanted to blog because I wanted to try to either reach people that felt the same way I did or find people that could help me that maybe felt the same way I did. And, and, and connect with them because of the isolation that I was feeling. And when I did it, it was just to have that outlet and find that community.
I didn’t know it was going to become something that could make money, let alone a six figure business, let alone my career for the rest of my life. And I’m so grateful that it has, but that wasn’t the original idea.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. So let me get this straight. So today you make your living from urban20something.com.
Leah Gervais: Yes.
Jacques Hopkins: But you started it originally just to chronicle your journey of where you would eventually make your full time living.
Leah Gervais: Exactly. It’s like it’s so…
Jacques Hopkins: It’s funny the way it worked out.
Leah Gervais: It’s very surprising that this thing that I thought would be kind of a diary to my career became my career.
Jacques Hopkins: That’s very, very interesting. Okay. I’m, I’m at urban20something.com right now and I clicked on programs and I kind of want to go through here and learn a little bit about what you have going on here. Now, first of all, at the top, the headline says live programs.
Why does it say live programs?
Leah Gervais: Well I probably should have updated this page a little bit before I did this, but it says live because one of the things that I think is unique about my company is every course I have now, I’ve at one point done live. And by that I mean I do them with a live coaching component.
When each module is released, I have a community going while they’re while they’re released, they’re, they’re done in real time for however many modules there are. And then once proven to work really well, not like my first clients are Guinea pigs, but once I do them live a few times or once or twice or whatever, there’s various reasons, I will then turn them into self study courses.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. Very cool. And as I scroll down the page, I noticed that some say open for enrollment, some say currently closed, so that does make a lot of sense. Now the very first one here looks like a lead magnet, magnet to me. Seven days to a side hustle; can’t speak today. For some reason I think the cold’s got me.
It says it’s a free program, sign up for free. Is that your main way people join your email list?
Leah Gervais: I have three main lead magnets that I promote very intensively. So that is one of them. That’s the only one that I would consider a course. It’s a free email course, so that’s why it’s on that page.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. Next is start your side hustle self study. What’s up with that one?
Leah Gervais: So that organically follows that free one, and that is a four-module course that shows you how to start a side hustle in a strong foundational way. You know, I think a lot of times people just like start an Instagram account and then they wonder why they don’t have any clients or they don’t understand how important it is to build an email list from day one.
And so that’s just really a foundational course. Just like I had mentioned, it was originally done live. I did it, you know, in a group and now it’s able to be a self-study program.
Jacques Hopkins: Now you said it follows organically from the free one. Does that mean basically that once somebody opts in for the free one, you’ve got kind of a funnel in place that leads somebody to hopefully purchase that next level?
Leah Gervais: Exactly.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. And then the next one says, currently closed scale your side hustle.
Leah Gervais: Yes. So that is my, I would say signature course program. I ran a, I think five times live. It was phenomenal. And it’s no longer open for enrollment because we just did it like a few months ago, and so that’s no longer available, that’s not available right now. It will become available again in a different way, but it’s not right now.
Jacques Hopkins: Do you recommend in general that course creators do these like interactive, like live components with a course?
Leah Gervais: I don’t think that there’s an easy yes or no answer to that. I think it depends on the course and what is best going to serve your students. And I think what I realized is that for a lot of my material, you know, starting a side hustle, scaling a side hustle, leaving your nine to five job, the community element is critical and it really helps people during what is honestly a very scary time. You know, I think if you’re doing a course on something like Pinterest. You might be able to get away with, you know, or not get away, but it might actually serve your clients more. The students more to to do it evergreen because they can do it on their time. They can do it, you know, they can like crash course it in an afternoon if they want to do it and just really grind it out.
They could outsource it if they have a BA that they want to do it too. So I think that there’s the time and place. I think the reason that my initial courses didn’t do as well as I had originally hoped. I mean, I think that there’s a lot of reasons, but I think that one of the reasons I saw more success when I started adding this is because a lot of the content is just heavier and people benefit from having a community and support with it.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. Keeping going down the [inaudible] down the list the five thousand dollar per month online business intensive. Sounds intense.
Leah Gervais: It is intense. It’s, it’s short. So this is like, this is a good example of one that I don’t think needs, you know, any sort of people going or at any sort of coaching component because it’s something I think you could do in a weekend.
And it’s just a really transparent breakdown of what you can sell, how you can sell it, and how you can leverage what you have in place right now to get to around five thousand dollars.
Jacques Hopkins: Quite a, quite a promise. It sounds very interesting. Next one sounds interesting as well. Limitless list. I’m assuming that’s about building an email list. Tell me about that one.
Leah Gervais: Yeah, that’s right. So that one’s eight modules, and I’d say the first half is about building, and the second half is about what to do with them. Nurturing them and selling.
Jacques Hopkins: Which one of these is your most popular course at this point?
Leah Gervais: Scale your side hustle.
Jacques Hopkins: Scale your side hustle. Okay. And then next on this same page is your private coaching. Who would be a good fit for your private coaching as opposed to just someone signing up for one of your online courses.
Leah Gervais: People that entrepreneurs that understand that they either need or are ready for a lot more personal development work in tandem with their business.
And this is where I think courses can, I mean, you can do a course on personal development, but I think if you are experiencing a lot of fear and it’s influencing your decisions, then that’s where having a mentor or someone doing this one on one with you could work. And I also think that the person who’s right for that is a bit more established.
They have, you know, a lot of things in place. They just more so on a scale that they already have in place now and uplevel their own kind of ceiling, I guess, for lack of a better word, so something like scale your side hustle or, or not scale your side hustle necessarily, but something like limitless lists or starting your side hustle would probably be things they should go through before they do a one on one coaching.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. Now you mentioned earlier that you started your blog and courses weren’t necessarily the first way you tried to monetize the site. You did a little bit of affiliate stuff here and there is is at this point today courses the majority of your revenue for your business.
Leah Gervais: I mean, if you mean courses that include the like, I don’t know if you are just interested in evergreen courses that are just totally passive. If you include the ones where I do the life coaching component as well, then yeah, I would say there. I, I think that they’re probably relatively even with the coaching.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. So between co, coaching plus courses.
Leah Gervais: Yes.
Jacques Hopkins: Overall is definitely the majority of your, of your revenue for your business.
Leah Gervais: Exactly. [Inaudible] I’d say the courses are the majority of it.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. And I certainly don’t consider, like if you have interactive components or coaching involved in a program that it’s not an online course. Right? If there’s modules and lessons learned and it doesn’t have to be 100% passive by any means. So you mentioned when you had first started urban20something.com and originally you didn’t know how you’re going to monetize it.
You said that courses weren’t necessarily the first way that you monetize. You try some affiliate stuff and some other things, but at this point, I’m assuming that online courses is the majority of the revenue from this business. And if you don’t mind, could you tell us about how much revenue wise or just ballpark numbers you’re bringing in from specifically online courses?
Leah Gervais: With my online courses. I don’t know that that would, that’s not the majority of it, but it would still be around five to ten thousand a month.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. And the, and the rest like…
Leah Gervais: Is coaching.
Jacques Hopkins: The what is the majority is coaching? Okay.
Leah Gervais: It’s coaching and then also speaking is a bit of my income and then I do brand partnerships as well on social media.
Jacques Hopkins: Oh, very cool. Do you have, so there’s a, there’s a big debate in the community, you know, coaching versus online courses. Right. Because one requires a lot of your time. One doesn’t require as much. How do you feel about your current breakdown and are you trying to maybe do more courses than coaching going forward?
Leah Gervais: I think the way I look at that, because I’ve, I’ve gone back and forth with that debate too and thought about what I think would be my best business model. But at the end of the day, I didn’t start urban twenty-something to be a coach or a course, course creator. I started it because I was taking a big risk in my life and I wanted to connect to other people about the risk I was taking and hopefully equip myself to, to fly better or, you know, not crash and burn because I was building some sort of community because I was learning more because I was getting the word out there.
I didn’t really know what it meant. But the point is, I still feel very, very close to that original intent and that original message. And so I don’t look at urban 20 something as coaching business or as a course business. I look at it as a platform that promotes entrepreneurship and risk taking and big living, and so whatever avenues I can best do that in, I’m happy to do so.
I think from a business perspective, it is important to have passive income streams set up to some extent, or at least reoccurring income streams. And I do think that courses are good for that. But like I mentioned, I think it’s most important to be honest with yourself about what is best going to serve your clients and your customers because having been in this for a few years now, having happy customers and clients is, is way more important than having a good funnel because they will send you referrals, they’ll continue to buy from you, they’ll advocate for you. It’s much more long-term success. And so that’s more what I care about.
And I think that early on I got very seduced by the idea of passive income and creating courses and the things you see on Instagram. And I think a lot of people still do. And that’s why my initial courses didn’t do as well as I had thought that they might, because I just didn’t go [inaudible].
Jacques Hopkins: I think that that might be the quote of that episode right there is having happy customers is better than a good funnel. I love that. All right, so I want to, I want to talk about one more thing that is at the bottom of this page that we’ve been going over your programs page and it says questions about what program is right for you, reach out below to schedule a complimentary discovery call with us.
Are you doing those yourself?
Leah Gervais: Yes!
Jacques Hopkins: Why?
Same as same as what we just talked about. I’m guessing. You know, your goal is happy customers.
Leah Gervais: I guess if people have a question about one of my courses then I can have someone that’s on my team help them out with that, and that’s fine. But because I do so much in a group capacity, whether it’s a mastermind or a live version of one of my courses, or you know, a group coaching program, I very much view that one of my biggest jobs within that is to create cohesive communities and really supportive communities. And people that are going to help and support the other people as well as learn from the other people in the group. And I take that very seriously.
So I don’t always let people into my programs or into one on one coaching with me because I don’t always think that they’d be the best fit at this point in my business. I still feel that it should be me that’s making that call.
Jacques Hopkins: Very cool. Now, one of the biggest areas that people struggle with is just getting people, getting in front of the right people.
You could have the world’s greatest course, the world’s greatest website, the world’s greatest, whatever content, but if nobody’s actually visiting your site, it doesn’t really matter. So how are you getting most of your traffic to urban20something.com?
Leah Gervais: I get most of my traffic to urban 20 something from organic search and Pinterest. Those are by far the two strongest lead generators I have to my website itself, but I don’t only focus on my website as a way to get people in my funnel at all. You know? I actually think. That, like my email list is more the bread and butter of my business than my website itself. So my goal is always just to get people on my email list.
And so I do that with, you know, very much promoting my lead magnets on social media, on Pinterest directly, running ads to it every day, three hundred sixty five days a year. And then also, I’ve, I really think that an underrated tool is just speaking in public and going to network and meeting people. And I’m really lucky that I live in New York, so I’m able to, you know, moderate panels, be on panels and things like that.
And it’s so easy to get caught up in like the cheapest possible lead on Facebook or whatever. But at the end of the day, you can just go talk to someone and that works well. I was just thinking this morning how like, some of my clients have gotten from such random places, like a woman who I met at the gym one time stretching is one of my clients. You just never know.
Jacques Hopkins: Oh, wow. That’s really cool.
Leah Gervais: Thanks.
Jacques Hopkins: All right, so let’s next, let’s talk about kind of tools and software products that you use. Let’s start with what you use to actually host your course and work out from there some of your favorite online tools and softwares that you’re using.
Leah Gervais: I host my courses on my website, which is just with WordPress, and I don’t use a, I don’t use a plugin or anything. I just, you know, I use Elementor to build the pages and then insert my modules and downloads and everything in there. I did use teachable for awhile, and I do think it has a great interface, but I think it can get really complicated having so many different things everywhere so I host them now just on my website.
Jacques Hopkins: So wait, hold on. You said you don’t, you don’t use a plugin though? I’m confused.
Leah Gervais: I use the plugin Elementor, which is just a design for like the pages, but I don’t use a course plugin.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay, so how do you, how do you password protect your course?
Leah Gervais: On WordPress, you can just go to an option where you’re publishing that says public or password protected and I password protect it.
Jacques Hopkins: Wow! That is like the simplest, simplest course hosting solution I’ve heard of. That’s amazing.
Leah Gervais: It’s like, yeah, I’ve tried all like Kajabi and teachable and they’re sophisticated, but they’re. You know, sometimes it’s better to just keep things simple. Why, why fix what’s not broken?
Jacques Hopkins: Sure. How does somebody like register for an account or do you guys have to do that manually and then send over the password?
Leah Gervais: Nope. We use Leadpages Pro, which is Leadpages version that processes payments and that’s connected with ActiveCampaign, my email service provider. So when someone registers for my course on the sales page on Leadpages, they are triggered by ActiveCampaign into the funnel, which emails them a welcome email, including the password.
Jacques Hopkins: Awesome.
Now, I am a huge fan of active campaign. That’s what I use a lot of bloggers that I talked to use ConvertKit, so I fully expected you to use that. Why’d you go with ActiveCampaign over ConvertKit?
Leah Gervais: Well, number one, I don’t consider myself a blogger anymore at all. I don’t think I’ve blogged in like a year and a half, so that’s part of it. But ConvertKit is good for, yeah, I guess that’s exactly it. ConvertKit is good for bloggers. I’m not a blogger. And I am also obsessed with ActiveCampaign and having tried most of the CRMs out there on the market, I have never seen more sophisticated automation. And I think that that’s something that people really trip up on them when they think about email marketing, they are always thinking about how they can have a fancier funnel or better emails or send more emails and you know, I would say that over half of the automations I have set up an ActiveCampaign don’t email anyone, or they email me, you know, they’ll email me and say, so-and-so’s like looking at this page on your website for the third time, and he’s still haven’t bought you should reach out to them or someone so just join this automatic funnel. They should go into your Facebook group and, or your Facebook audience. And they’re automatically updated to my Facebook audience. And I’ve just never seen this CRM have as much capacity, like ActiveCampaign to do all of that.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Very cool. The only thing that I’ve seen with more advanced features than ActiveCampaign is like an infusionsoft, but it’s like too much. It’s too overwhelming. So to me ActiveCampaign just has the…
Leah Gervais: Yeah. Infusionsoft you have to hire someone to manage…
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah.
Leah Gervais: … your infusionsoft, which I don’t think its nobility to entrepreneurs and that’s what we need.
Jacques Hopkins: Exactly. I couldn’t agree more with that. So you’ve mentioned, you know, you mentioned the WordPress stuff, you mentioned Leadpages, you’ve mentioned ActiveCampaign.
Any other tools out there you’re using and liking? Or those the big ones?
Leah Gervais: You know, those are, that does the trick when it comes to creating the funnel. I will say that or back in the day when I was first creating my eCourses, I would create power points and then fill my screen with, fill my screen with quick player.
I think its max built-in film an audio player, which one’s like such a pain, and then I’d have to upload them all and it took up so much memory on my computer and it was just so much. Now I just use a plugin on Chrome called Loom, which is free, and I create my courses, or if I need to do any modules, I create them in Google Slides on my Google Drive.
And that has made actually creating modules so much easier and it takes up so much less memory on my computer.
Jacques Hopkins: Do you have a team around this business or is it just you?
Leah Gervais: I do. I have an assistant, I have a podcast producer, manager. I don’t do rarely anything on my podcast. I don’t edit it or anything or manage the, like, promotion of it.
And then I have a Pinterest manager. It will help, but it’s mostly just me.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, and then I want to ask you real quick about your husband and something you said earlier, you, you specifically said that he’s not a lawyer anymore. Has he done, it’s kind of a similar path to you where he’s, he’s on his own with an online business as well?
Leah Gervais: He is also self-employed, but he is not, you know, like it’s not necessarily an online business. He does; he works in investing and he values companies.
Jacques Hopkins: So no online course. He’s not going to be the next guest of the online course show.
Leah Gervais: He does have actually a course that he put on Udemy calls Deciding On Law School that’s like to decide if law school’s right for you or not, because I think he was going through this phase we both were like, goes like, should I go to law school? And he’s like, should I keep being a lawyer? And we’re both like, no.
So he made that course ’cause I think it was like kind of the [inaudible] what you wish he would have known.
Jacques Hopkins: Leah, it’s a pleasure to get to know you a little bit. Appreciate you sharing so much great information with the audience. Just a couple more questions here for you.
The next one, you can go anywhere you want with it, but I’m just curious what advice you might have for somebody. More of the beginning stages looking to possibly get into online courses.
Leah Gervais: Oh my God, I have so much I could say. First thing I would do is to not fall into the idea that if you create an online course and then put it up there, it’s automatically going to work.
And you know, really do your research beforehand. So that means. Knowing that people actually want it and knowing that it actually will help people and knowing that you have an audience to even sell it to. So something I tell my clients to do with everything that they release, whether it’s an online course or a coaching program, or a product or a physical product, like anything is to write down 10 people at least, that you think would find this, whether that’s 10 people that have been very engaged on your email list, or 10 people you know, in person, it doesn’t matter. We saw often entrepreneurs were very creative, you know, get excited about an idea, and then when it flops, they think there’s something wrong with them. And that’s not the case. It might just be that there’s a [inaudible]. And so if you can write down 10 people. Even if those 10 people don’t necessarily buy, you’re proving to yourself that there is a connection there and that there are people in your audience that would probably be interested. So, you know, do your homework before. Don’t get overly excited and don’t be afraid to ask people. Don’t be afraid to survey people. Don’t be afraid to do a presale. I feel like people are afraid to do things because they’re afraid of rejection. But you know, being afraid of rejection and then sitting behind the computer for a hundred hours to create a course, just to then be rejected for a mat is also not a very fun feeling.
So put yourself out there before you do it and make sure people want it. And then my other advice would be to never stop tweaking it. So I tell people to, you know, at least have like 200 people go through their funnel before they really make any decisions. But just know that it’s not about doing something one and done and then walking away from for forever. You can always update it. You can always improve it. You can always get better at it and you kind of deal with that way if you have the right [inaudible].
Jacques Hopkins: Leah, thanks so much for joining me today to wrap this up. Let people know where they should go to, to connect with you. Learn more about you. Maybe sign up for something you have to offer.
Leah Gervais: You can check me out at urban20something.com or on Instagram. I’m pretty active at urban twenty something. I do have a free download. It is at urban20something.com/income-boost. And it’s kind of my side hustle’s case study. So for those of you that might still be a nine to five jobs or [inaudible] scale, this is why I got really transparent about how I made my income get above my nine to five while I was still there and how that mitigated a lot of risk for me.
So go ahead and check that out. It’s totally free. And there you guys my story.
Jacques Hopkins: We’ll include that in the show notes. Thanks so much, Leah.
And that’s a wrap on the conversation with Leah Gervais. David, welcome back to the podcast.
David Krohse: Yay.
Jacques Hopkins: So I mentioned right before I played the, the conversation with Leah that it was, I thought it was interesting the way her journey started with starting the blog.
She never thought that would be her thing, but that’s kind of her thing now, what other takeaways did you get from this conversation?
David Krohse: Well, I definitely was intrigued by the whole discussion of the blog. You know, I think at the end she mentioned that she hasn’t put out a blog post in quite a while, and so what she has there is pretty static.
And then, you know, as I was listening, I was also kind of thinking in your situation, you actually added a blog to your website primarily for an SEO perspective. Is that right?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, exactly. Man, when I first got started, like I, I didn’t know the first thing about SEO. I thought that you just wanted your homepage to rank for as many possible search terms as you could.
So originally when I was getting started, like I wanted pianoin21days.com to rank for learn piano fast. I thought that was the best kind of fit. Then I was, then I started ranking for learn piano fast, and then I was like, okay, how can I also get my homepage to rank for how to play piano and learn piano? One reality. That’s not necessarily the goal you want. You can have different pages ranking for different terms. And so once I realized that, it’s like, okay, well what are these pages look like? And you don’t want to just game the system. You would actually want to give value out there. Google’s getting better at better at rewarding those those pages that are just valuable that people actually want to click on and learn from and stay on as opposed to just, like I said, gaming the system. And so I started a blog on pianoin21days.com several years after I actually started it so that I could have a place to provide additional value and additional pages that can rank and that are now ranking in Google.
David Krohse: So have you looked recently like the individual blog posts? Like are there certain ones that are just, the individual posts should are really high and that they’re actually entrances to people finding you?
Jacques Hopkins: Absolutely. Yeah. The biggest example would be, I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago. It’s called the four ways you could learn how to play piano and which one is best.
David Krohse: Oh, wow.
Jacques Hopkins: And now that page ranks number one for the search term the, what, like, what’s the best way to learn piano?
David Krohse: Oh, that’s awesome.
Jacques Hopkins: Something like that. Yeah. And once you go there, there’s a nice strong call to action, right to the right for my free workbook. And so that is since then, other pages have taken it over in terms of SEO traffic, just because of search volume, like how to play piano is like the biggest one.
And then different page ranks for that. But you know, it’s, it’s cool to be able to see work you did a couple of years ago paying off in the, in the, in the long run.
David Krohse: Sure. So for some random course creator that only has video, you’d say once you get your website going, like definitely build that blog portion out and kind of look at yours and model it correct? Or hire a professional to help?
Jacques Hopkins: Or hire a professional. What I like to do, David, is I like to, and this is kind of what I’m doing with the onlinecourseguy.com kind of if I had to do it over again, is I like kind of the video and the blog to be somewhat the same thing as long as video is a good medium to share your message, but one YouTube video equals one blog post, so map out a video, whatever that’s going to be, and do your whole thing over on YouTube and then turn that into a blog post. You know, we were talking about Emily and all the things that she does for me earlier.
That’s one of her things. When I make a new video, she literally would take that video and turn it into a blog post. It’s not just a transcript of the video, it is a re-creation of the video in text.
David Krohse: Okay. Does she type that up or do you have some transcription service do that, just the part of like typing the thing out and then it gets turned in?
Jacques Hopkins: It’s not a transcription, it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a re-creation of the idea. So she, she’ll watch the video and understand what the concepts are that I’m conveying in the video and then start from scratch with a new blog post. Because you can, you, like, I’ll convey things differently in front of a camera then, then you would want to.
David Krohse: Sure.
Jacques Hopkins: When you’re, when you’re typing on a blog post and so she, she’s able to do that for me. And it kinda, it just, it comes across a lot better than just a pure transcript. Now, you could include a transcript in the blog post, and maybe that’s something I should be doing as well. But I think one of the. One of the names of the game going forward is content repurposing and doing a really good job on the content creation side at the beginning and then re-purposing it in as many possible plate places.
That same content. You know, extra, like one thing I want to do better at going forward is taking excerpts from this podcast and maybe the video portion and putting them on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and all these places. Not necessarily the entire episode, but little, little nuggets, golden nuggets here and there.
And that way it’s not. A lot of work that I have to do, I don’t have to film separate videos. It’s just a matter of somebody going in there and extracting the good stuff, and then we got to repurpose it. Gary Vaynerchuk is really good at that. A guy named Peng Joon is, is really good at that. Nate Dotson is starting to get really good at that, and that’s something I want to be good at going into 2020 as well.
David Krohse: Awesome. Yeah. Building out a blog as a part of my next plan when I make my course for just all the different professions, so excited to work on that.
Jacques Hopkins: Right on. Let’s get back to our takeaways from the conversation with Leah. One thing that really jumped out to me, and you could probably tell when we were talking is she doesn’t use Teachable or ClickFunnels or Thinkific for hosting her course. I’ve never heard of this. She just uses WordPress like not even a plugin. I didn’t even know that was possible. I’m very curious to see what the experience is like because I do have people come in and be like, Hey, Jacques, like 97 bucks a month for one of these services is a little out of my price range. Do you, can you recommend something cheaper? I could point them to this episode and be like, look, Leah is doing really well and she just uses WordPress.
David Krohse: Well, I mean at the end of that discussion she mentioned something about using Leadpages Pro. So, would, I mean that’s what I interpreted it as being like the plug, is that a plugin or is that a separate, you have to pay for Leadpages?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, she pay. She pays for Leadpages and apparently some apparently Leadpages Pro, which I’m not super familiar with. She uses that for like her landing pages like, you and I both have our order forms built in click funnels for example. She has her order form built in Leadpages, and then she’s able to automatically connect that purchase into WordPress through Leadpages Pro was my understanding of that.
So I think that’s something she’s kind of paying for anyway, and it’s not an additional cost because of her membership.
David Krohse: Yeah. Regardless, it sounded super simple and, and awesome.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. As long as the experience is good, I might have to look into it just so that I can either recommend it or not recommend it to people. But if somebody is listening to this and they’re on a shoestring budget, can’t nes… don’t necessarily want to pay that 97 dollars a month for a course hosting platform, then it’s something to at least try or maybe just start with.
And then once you start making some monthly revenue upgrade to something else. One other thing that jumped out at me was the [inaudible], the way she’s doing discovery calls. ‘Cause I don’t, I don’t see that on a lot of people’s websites and it hasn’t come up a ton in the podcast. But I like how she’s got a lot of different things she offers, she offers coaching calls, she’s got several different courses. But at the bottom of that page with all of our programs is, Hey, not sure if we’re a fit to work together. Not sure which program is for you, book a call, let’s talk about it. And she seems like she’s really enjoying doing those calls. It doesn’t seem like those are going away anytime soon. And I thought it was very interesting that she’s, she’s doing those calls.
David Krohse: Yeah, I’d say on that same topic, when she was talking about what she has active came campaign do, she said that she’ll have like an automation where if somebody like ends up on her sales page three times and they haven’t bought yet, it’ll like ping her and then she’ll reach out to them. And so I would have loved to ask her like what exactly are you doing? Like are you sending a Bonjoro with a personal message just saying, Hey, you know, I’d love to answer any questions you have. Or is she just sending an email inviting them to sign up for a discovery call? Because you know, a lot of people want to automate everything, but I mean, it sounds like she’s figured out that those, those specific touch points are able to get people, you know, the fence sitters to take action.
So I would have loved to know exactly what her, what her action is when she gets that. That notification.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. And there, there is a line between being helpful and being kind of creepy too. So I’d be curious about that as well. You don’t want to, you don’t want to go too far where you’re crossing the line and being kind of spammy or creepy, but at the same time, if somebody is interested but they’re just kind of on the fence, maybe they have questions, but they’re shy and then you reach out if you do it the right way, that can be pretty effective.
David Krohse: Oh obviously she feels like it’s worth it at those precise points. So.
Jacques Hopkins: Seems to be. Those were some of my key takeaways here. David, did you have anything else of note that you want to bring up here?
David Krohse: No, I don’t believe so.
Jacques Hopkins: David, once again, a pleasure. This is gonna kind of put a bow on episode one ten. Thank you for joining me on this episode.
For all of the notes and links from today’s episode, everyone out there listening, you can find those show notes. As usual by going to the onlinecourseguy.com and in this case slash one ten since this is episode one ten. And I appreciate everyone out there listening, and if, if this is your first time listening to the online course show, I’d like to invite you to jump back to the online courses one-o-one episode. That was episode 89 so once again, if this is your first time, definitely jump back and listen to that. To get a nice little one-on-one crash course on online courses and that you can jump back here or jump back all the way to episode one and listen in. I know David, you even to this point this day, go back to episode one every now and then and kind of listen to the good old days. What, two and a half years ago.
And if you haven’t done so already, please consider leaving a review for the show on your favorite podcast platform. Thanks again everybody. We’ll talk to you next week.