Jacques Hopkins: Episode 122 is brought to you by Bonjoro. Now, about an hour ago, a guy named Michael bought my online piano course and I just opened up my barn gyro app on my phone and I'm going to be recording and Cindy, one of these Bonjoros to Michael right now as I read this ad to you, here we go.
Hey, Michael, it's Jacques. Just wanted to personally welcome you to piano in 21 days. Thanks so much for signing up for the ultimate package earlier today. I hope everything is going well with that so far. Good luck and let me know if you need anything.
So that was it. Nice short, simple, sweet. Now Michael has this personalized video from the guy that made the online course he just signed up for it and I'm sure that he is going to be excited about receiving that from me and be extra motivated to to get started and succeed with the course.
If you want to get started with a free trial of Bonjoro and send these out to your students like I do, head 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 it, 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 am your host Jacques Hopkins, and here with me is our cohost, David Krohse.
David Krohse: Hey there!
Jacques Hopkins: And we're excited to dive into all things online courses with you today. David Krohse welcome to episode 122.
David Krohse: Thank you.
Jacques Hopkins: Man, this podcast is a lot of fun. You know, the typical format is, you know, we'll jump on together and we'll just kinda talk about, you know, maybe our courses or what's been going on with our courses or maybe in our life lately. Then I'll introduce a guest that I interviewed previously and then we'll come back on after the interview and, and talk about it a little bit.
And I think this format, and you know, I'm having a lot of fun with this format. We've been doing this format for a while, and so I appreciate you joining me for another episode. And here we are on this, this intro part of this podcast episode.
David Krohse: Definitely. Well, what have you been working on over there?
Jacques Hopkins: So one thing that I've been working on that I think is worth sharing with the audience is thinking about like list, quality over list quantity, right? Everybody by now should know how important it is to grow, to build, grow, start an email list. And everybody's got a list of have a different size and it can be like one of those vanity metrics. Like, Oh, I've got a list of 20,000 Oh, I have a list of 100,000 I've got 500,000 and so on.
But you know, quality's probably more important than, than quantity. And so I don't often send out an email to my entire list, right? I, I normally like to maybe segment it a little more, maybe send it to part of my list this month, another part next month and so on. But I recently updated my, my opt in ebook, my learn 36 popular songs in five days workbook.
And I wanted to just go ahead and send that out to everybody. And before I did that, I looked in, I had, my list was 58,000 people and I was like, you know, 58,000 people don't open these. In fact, a lot of these people haven't opened an email from me in years, and I was looking for a good solution to, to do some list cleanup, and I wanted to say okay. If somebody hasn't opened an email or read an email or even visited my website in the past, let's say, year, let me just, let me just get rid of them.
And so I found a really, a really easy way to do that inside of ActiveCampaign, which is what I use for email auto-responding. And I've been posting a little bit about this in the free Facebook group, The Online Course Community. So if you want some more details on how to do that, I've got some information in there on exactly how to do that. But I did that and it doesn't tell you how many people it's going to wipe out when you go to do it. So I kept refreshing and checking. It ended up wiping out 10,000 people.
David Krohse: Wow.
Jacques Hopkins: So after that, my email list size was 48,000 but those 10,000 people weren't going to open any emails from me anyway. But so, so I think it's important to clean up your list, but even more importantly, I think it's important to, to maybe be more proactive about it and have an automated way to, to make sure that doesn't really happen. So not only did I do a list clean up this week, but I also took some action to, to make sure I'm not going to have to do a list cleanup again.
And so what I have set up is. You know, I'll simplify it and just say basically, if somebody doesn't open an email, read an email or visit my site within a six month period, then they go through a little re-engagement campaign and I send them three emails of the course of about a week and a half, which have very few links, pictures, anything like that, designed to make sure it like gets in their inbox and in front of them.
And if they don't interact with any of those and still don't visit my site, then they get automatically unsubscribed and it's nice, simple, and hopefully continues to keep the quality of my list as high as possible.
David Krohse: Have you found what you're most likely to be open? Like what's your highest rate? Open email subject.
Do you know?
Jacques Hopkins: No, I don't. I don't spend a lot of time looking at stats for open rates and click rates. Can you hear that?
David Krohse: I could, yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. My daughter's going potty right outside my office and I wish my wife was more on top of things.
David Krohse: You got to keep this in the podcast.
Jacques Hopkins: You think so?
David Krohse: I think so. I think people got a kick out of it.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, you know, we'll, we'll just keep pressing forward even though Zoe is going potty right outside the room. Yeah, I don't, I don't keep track of that man. Cause there's, there's so many, there's so many stats that we could look at. There's so many. And there are some that I choose to look at on a daily basis and others I don't.
And you know, if, if, if I, if there start, if it starts being serious issues in my business and overall sales rates are declining, then I have to get into the nitty gritty and start looking at stuff like that. But when things are going well. And an increasing, then I don't worry about the minutia like that.
David Krohse: Yeah. Well, I'll tell you, not so much with my course business, but with my chiropractic business, I have a monthly email newsletter. The highest open rates I'll get are with a subject meet and somebody's name. People have this, they want to click in there and see somebody's title, and then the other one, I'll tell the story briefly, but I did one.
It was the subject was Dr. Krohse's trouble with the police and the story my wife and I flew down to Cancun and we didn't want to stay in a resort. So we got a rental car. We went down to Playa Del Carmen down to Taloon, up to Puerto Morelos, and we stayed in an Airbnb, had no trouble the whole time. And so by the last day we were driving back to the airport and I was like, man, I just feel totally safe.
So I was wearing like a Frida Kahlo, bright green lime green trucker cap. I remember we were listening to the podcast Crimetown about corruption in, I dunno, I think Rhode Island or somewhere. Yeah, Providence, Rhode Island. But we looked as much like a tourist as possible, and we were just about a mile from the Cancun airport. Went through this traffic, slow traffic, slow down spot, and like a cop dropped in behind me and so I get pulled over. They were real cops, but they basically came up, asked for my driver's license, and then they had me come back. So they separated me from my wife. And they're like, okay, here's the deal. Like you went through the stop too fast and so it's $245 fine.
The way this is going to work is we're going to take your driver's license down to the Cancun police station. You go down there and pay the fine and you get your driver's license back. And I said, well, how far away is that? And they said, well, it's 45 minutes. Well, we had like 2 hours and 45 minutes before our flight, so, but I'm like, we don't have enough time.
And they're like, well, the other option is that you would just pay us here. And so I was like, well, we only have $8 cash and the guys are like, you don't have any more? And I was like, no, we're Americans. We don't like cash. But they were like, well, what about your wife? And I said, she doesn't have any either.
And I was just standing there. I'm like, what next? Like, and I was starting to think, I'm like, all I need is my passport to get on the plane. I still have that. So I'm thinking like the next thing is just to smile and nod and be like, all right, I'll see you guys at the police station. Anyways, they, the next thing they said was just like, well, this is your first time to Mexico? And I said, yes. And they said, all right, well, we're going to let you go with a warning and off we went. But anyways, I told that story, but that subject, Dr. Krohse's trouble with the police got like 60% open rate and I guess anybody that didn't open that like should be clean from my list because it's not even landing in their inbox. Right?
So yeah, you could do something really super click baity like that.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. That goes, that goes along really well with, with what I was just talking about, the list quality and that's, that's a good way to weed people out. So I've actually heard Trae Lowell and talk about how he uses the subject why do you hate me in one of his emails as a way to just kind of like shock and awe.
Like people are either going to open that and like engage with this content or they're, then they're deaf. If they don't, and they're definitely not a good candidate to be on his list. So overall good stuff to think about. People out there listening, you know, just want to give you guys a reminder to think about list quality over list quantity.
So with that, let's get into the, the conversation of the day with Ksenia and David Duffy, who is a husband and wife team who has an online dance course that is just wildly successful. So this was a really fun interview. We don't often have two people on the other end, and that's exactly what we had here. So without further ado, let's go ahead and play the full conversation with Ksenia and David right now.
Ksenia, David, welcome to The Online Course Show.
David Duffy: Thanks for having us.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Thanks for having us.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, it's, it's a pleasure on this side, guys. I'm excited to, to dive into your story a little bit here, and I don't know how much of the podcast you've heard, but I don't often have two people that I'm interviewing on the other side, so I'm excited to, to hear a little bit about that dynamic. And so to start with why, why don't you tell us, you know, why are there two of you? What, what is the breakdown between the two of you within your business?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Well, first thing first, we are husband and wife. We are as well, creative partners. So David is a composer and a musician, and I'm a dancer. So we are in some sense, really a perfect mix couple of perfect duet. And as well, we, we just create a lot, but we do business as well together and David's in our schools Secrets of Solo is more responsible for finances, for marketing, for advertisement, and I'm more creative content and relationships with our students.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. So, so let's get into it. Secretsofsolo.com. What? What's we, when did you guys decide to turn your talents into an online course and tell, tell me a little bit about that process.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Well, actually we're celebrating five years anniversary of our school and we decided to create our online school even when we were together living in Quirk in Ireland. And David can tell the story.
David Duffy: Yeah, I mean, at the time we had just met actually as well, where we just kind of met five years ago. Pretty much two days last February 9th five years ago, and when I first met Ksenia, she was already very well known online. She had a lot of views. I met her, I was a bass player for a the jazz festival dancing festival and Ksenia was dancing at it, so we met through that. While there, like I was already told, there's this famous Russian dancer coming and you know, we have to put on our best show and this kind of stuff.
Anyway, we clicked very fast and we have a very romantic love story after that. Pretty quickly in our relationship, I started to ask her about the viral videos. What she was doing with that, because I guess my mind is always a little bit entrepreneurial and I've always been that way, and I just kind of saw Ksenia had millions of views on videos, like lots of videos, just tons of views, but they weren't sending people anywhere. There was no, nowhere to go. You just watched a video and that's it.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: And equally at the same time, what happened is that I was dancing Charleston 20s this is specific style of, you know, flappers and... so I kind of was famous for that specific style, which I was denting and teaching it for a long time. So I was getting tired a little bit of that and I was moving on in my personal career. So I was telling him, look, I don't want to teach Charleston anymore. I want to try other things that people are asking, but I don't want to do it, but I don't want to lose it. Well, shall I do it? And he just said, why didn't you put it online?
Why don't we preserve it in this way, that way, be available for everyone forever. And I said...this sounds like a great idea. And everything else happened literally in a blink of an eye. We had a friend who was recording a video. The first time of this experience speaking to the camera. Not in my native language as well. Inventing material. Not yet really knowing how to teach, just teaching to a camera and like as if I would be teaching to a class. Boom, boom, boom. Another friend who did the website. I know what after two months, we had a course ready, and as soon as five years we're recording. We're releasing a course every December and in January when we were like, no, sorry, it was Christmas time and we were at home receiving just such a, such a, another, another, another. We were just a so shocked that were sitting there preparing our Christmas dinner with the family and we're just getting tons of subscriptions and tons of people paying to learn Charleston 20s online. I guess that's, that's how it started.
Jacques Hopkins: That sounds like a lot of fun. You know, a lot. Most of the time when somebody launches their first online course, it's not like that. And probably even a lot of people listening to this podcast right now maybe have launched and, and it hasn't been like that, but it sounds like you could probably attribute a lot of those sales to the fact that you are already pretty well known before you launched it online course. Is that fair to say?
I mean, how would you say that you went about marketing and telling people that this product existed when it first went live?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We didn't really do any marketing at that time I tell you this much. I think, I think there was like a post here and there on Facebook, hi guys, here's this thing online, but I did have a really, really like viral video running over the internet, flying of the internet for several years at that time.
David Duffy: I mean, it was also, it was Facebook five years ago. So I guess Facebook was showing people more of your content at a time. You didn't need to pay to see as many to get it to as many of your followers. And even back then, I'd say Ksenia already had 30,000 followers on Facebook or something.
So quite a significant following at that point. So in a few Facebook posts to say, if you want to learn online for me. That was already reaching a substantial number of people. And then word of mouth. We might be bad for the chronology of when we started because we were really just like learning on our feet. And we had flyers at some point. I don't know when we introduced those.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: At the beginning, the first course, there was no flyers. There was no, no Mailchimp. There's nothing. It was just, we did the course, we'll push it online. We had this quite, quite simple at that time, business kind of card website with this one little section for the videos and it was a Facebook post and that was actually it.
David Duffy: Yeah.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: After that, after the release, during a year, we had some flyers where we're giving them out. Our subscriptions came just from a Facebook post.
David Duffy: Yeah.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: And there are some things online you know.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. But it's a, it sounds like you had a pretty good following. I mean, 30,000 followers on Facebook is pretty good. You know, it wasn't just like putting a post out there when you have 800 friends that are just, you know, high school people or family, you actually had followers that were interested in your material, which is awesome.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yes.
Jacques Hopkins: So let me ask you this Ksenia. Do you think that you would have ever launched an online course to the world if you'd never met David?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Wow, that's a very difficult question. I don't know, may, may, maybe not because David just really, he's such a creative mind. He always comes up with fantastic ideas, and actually this was our second fantastic project with him. This was a year to, when we were knowing each other only during that year. The first project was we did a video clip where David said, listen, you have this choreography with four people.
I'm like, yeah, but I can't perform it because I need the other three dancers. And he's like, well, why don't you clone yourself on a green screen? I'm like, what. Yeah, just that's it. All yourself. And that was the first project just to give you... How David think. It's super creative in that sense. So yeah, maybe the answer, well the answer is I don't know really, but he is a super valuable generator of fabulous ideas.
David Duffy: Yeah. I mean at that time, it was the right, it was a kind of combination of things. Cause I think I just read the Tim Ferriss' book, the four hour work week around that period. And I had just started actually using Scott's bass lessons myself, cause I'm a bass player. So I just found that, so there was kind of a few elements just played in where I was really in my head starting to think about passive income and how to create that.
As a composer as well I also get some passive income from royalties. So I already kind of knew what that kind of felt like, this idea of income coming, even though you're not physically there working.
Jacques Hopkins: Sounds like it was just right, right time, right place, right person.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah.
David Duffy: Exactly. Yeah. Very much so. And I was. I was blessed to meet Ksenia at the time who, as I said, was already so well established and so well respected already you know.
Jacques Hopkins: All right guys, so I'm at secretsofsolo.com just on the homepage, it says, ready to start making breakthroughs in your swing dancing, learn to dance solo jazz, and the Charleston with Ksenia's secrets to of solo online dance classes.
Find out why over 1500 dancers have joined us and start your swing dance lessons today, and then there's two calls to action. How it works. Get started. I love the simplicity there. Now when I click on how it works, a video pops up that is one of the most well-produced videos promoting an online course I have ever seen.
Tell me a little bit about the back, the backstory behind that video and how you get something that high quality, a high quality video done.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Thank you so much for such kind words. Actually we filmed it at our home.
Jacques Hopkins: Really.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: David was the one who really pushed for that video. Again, we got inspired, but, well, you tell the story.
David Duffy: Yeah, I mean, I just, I hope we don't get ourselves in trouble here and maybe this is how everyone operates. We just, we just searched as many online schools as we could and said, okay, what are they doing? What are they doing? What are they doing? What's working for them? And then yes, Scott bass lessons just has that when you get there, that's how it works. And it's just, he just walks you through the school and, and it was super effective for me as a user. And I'm always doing that. And I'm always analyzing how I feel as a user. I sign up for so many online courses just to get the feeling of, of what that's like.
And so, so that was there and that inspired us. And at the time our Russian friends started was an amazing filmmaker was here. And we just asked him, would he come over and could we do it? And we have quite a clear vision that it was just an interview and that was it. I just, I just was here. I interviewed Ksenia and we just, I edited it actually afterwards.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: I was not so simple actually how to make it sound, because it was thousands of takes, you know? There were some things that, because we have always a little bit of a, of a battle commercial versus artistic, you know what I mean? Because I'm not selling something external. We're not selling socks, you know. Where I'm selling my classes and my face and my name and it's, all the time. All the time. When we discuss that strategies of how, how would you say goes. I will always try to say, listen, I don't want to be like, Hey guys, here it is. There we go, you know, buy this, buy that.
So, you know, Dave would ask me on say this, no, I'm not saying that, you know, because against my vision, my artistic integrity is, you know, even our website, the whole design, everything is that sort of balance between commercial and artistic.
To not make it too pushy, not make it to sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy. But still to have that, you know, while having the beautiful artistic image of myself, you know. And it took almost all day to be honest, and there was tons of takes and tons of impossible words. And then David was actually. Yeah.
David Duffy: But I mean, in terms of the quality, if you want to talk with that again, I just had clear images from looking at open studio and looking at all these master classes. That was a big inspiration for us. Actually Masterclass in terms of, I've taken masterclass and have to say, I don't like the content too much. It's like kind of essentially interviews, but what's incredible about masterclasse is just everything looks like a movie, like it's all made in LA and everything just looks so...
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Stunning.
David Duffy: Stunning.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Tasty pictures.
David Duffy: That you're just like, I want to buy that. Eventhough you don't maybe even want the content, you just want to get the thing. Again, just from analyzing data, it's always these like lovely, slow panning shots. And I just asked Sergey, how do we make that? Like how do we make something like masterclass, you know?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Just the feel.
David Duffy: And yeah, we just, we just brought in like all these kind of moving sliders and we rented a load of equipment. We rented a proper lighting rig for that night. We rented yes, sliders and just proper gear to make that. Yeah, we just invested, it wasn't even crazy. I think it was 300 Euro or something to rent equipment for the nights so that we could make it like super, super high end.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, it makes me feel a little bit better that there was at least like a professional filmmaker involved in, and you guys aren't just naturally good at every single thing you do.
Yeah. Well no, that's, it's fantastic. I'm invite anybody listening to go to secretsofsolo.com and just click that how it works link, cause that video pops right up and it's, it's incredibly well done. So you guys were inspired by, you know, masterclass and other things to make that video. I'm sure other people could watch your video and be inspired to do something similar.
Now the other call to action right there is just get started. And when I click on that, it brings me to just the three different pricing plans you have and people can click start today it looks like. Now a lot of people, you'll find myself included, I have more of a funnel approach and you can actually go to my website and buy my piano course. Right?
So do you guys have any sort of funnel or is this it? You get people to the site, they click that they're on this page, then they pick one of the three packages.
David Duffy: We tried the funnel thing, so we've tried a lot of things. We started out just you buy the course, it's not subscription, and you literally just buy it outright for lifetime.
That was the first model, like a DVD, essentially. That's how we started thinking about it, like buying a DVD and obviously that felt limited because well, let's say you get your sale once and it just didn't allow the user to get more and more content that we want to keep making and all those things. So we moved to this subscription model after about two years, and then at some point I had design the whole funnel where there was a free trial and you came in.
But you could still always buy the free trial. There was never a point, and I, I've, I've went on your website as well. I saw her that operates it, and I've seen other websites that operate that way that it's like get a free handbook and you're collecting the emails so that you can later on plug them via email.
I don't know why. It just seemed a little bit slow and, and certainly with the free trial we found, we had a lot of people.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah, we, we kind of change the, the, the pricing point in the formula every year. So during five years, every year we had something changing. And what we have currently is the simple fast X's, three different choices of payment or engagement or the depths.
That's it. We find that this for us works so for the best, no free trial, but money guarantee, 30-day money guarantee. If people want to buy to directly what? Why exactly it doesn't work for them. Yeah, that's it. And some of the, during the year we run sometimes it's technical discounts or special discounts.
David Duffy: Oh, I do have one story about the funnel thing, we did do that and it turned out to be a disaster, which is a big warning for anyone.
We had exactly that system, which was get three free classes or get four free classes. It was a Facebook ad and it was the whole funnel, like designed it with the web designer where it was like they do that in order to get the four free classes. They must keep their email address and they've got a follow up email and another followup.
Then they got Facebook advertise through that. And he didn't set up the Facebook ads, right? Or he didn't limit it in the right way. And he went to holidays for four days and we landed on a click farm Mexico, and we spent 900 euros and we had 6,000 Mexicans give their email address. And none of them signed up, and it just was like a complete kind of didn't work.
Jacques Hopkins: That'd probably put a little bit of a bad taste in your mouth.
David Duffy: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, since then we've just realized how country-specific we need to be and just to, when the ads are running to monitor them and also not to just open up the daily spend to whatever Facebook can find and really tighten that up.
So actually, maybe that's why that might've been one of the reasons we didn't follow that, that model, because we got burned that time, but maybe that was a nice model, which was just, here's four free classes, give your email address to get the four free classes, and then we will, would follow up after that.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, what you're doing now, obviously it seems to be working now, speaking of, of pricing, and you mentioned, you know, country-specific, I noticed your pricing is in euros. And I know you guys, you guys are in Europe currently. Even when I talk to people who sell online courses outside of the United States, I find a lot of times they still charge in us dollars. Why do you guys charge in euros?
David Duffy: We probably should have an answer to that.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We don't really have an answer yet. We just charge in Euro because we prefer Euro. There are many people that said, because we have, majority of our customers are actually from US and Russia. Some of them want dollars, some of them want troubles and we go, whether you go, you have Euro. Well and third, third salaries is Spain.
David Duffy: I mean, we never tested it. It could be something to talk to you about. I don't know. Is there a, are American scared away whether you're a symbol or do they need to convert it in their heads?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Maybe over five years, we had one person writing to us saying, why don't you guys sell, why don't you do some dollars? But was it literally. Usually people don't.
David Duffy: Yeah.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah I don't know.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, obviously my pricing is UN U S dollars where I'm in the United States, and I certainly get messages from people outside the United States and say, Hey, they're not really asking me why isn't it in my currency but they'll often ask, what is the price of my currency? I mean, what is the price in pounds? What is the price in euros or Canadian dollars in Australian dollars?
And so I certainly couldn't tell you that pricing your course in us dollars would be the right call. It's obviously working for you. I was just curious, maybe, maybe 95% of your customers were use the Euro already, but apparently that's not the case, so it could be something to consider and just maybe split test at some point.
David Duffy: Because we have a lot of Asians as well. That's quite a large kind of thing. I mean, again, I don't know.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We don't have different currenices yet.
David Duffy: But I don't know. Do they feel more comfortable with dollar or they feel more comfortable with Euro, Asians.
Jacques Hopkins: Now going back to that homepage, I mentioned when I was reading the text, it says, find out why over 15,000 or excuse me, 1500 dancers have joined us, and then I see all the way at the bottom of the homepage, it says 1,926 active members.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We need to correct the at the bottom number is the correct number.
David Duffy: Well, I mean.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Which is into our to-do list.
David Duffy: No, no. From an American perspective, that was just a nice figure way over 1500 like over 1500 being a kind of 1500 and above when that reaches 2,000, and we'll probably say, well over...
Jacques Hopkins: You know, well, I guess my question is, is that how many people have signed up all time? Or is that cause you, you've, you look, it looks like you kinda charge a year, a yearly price. So is that the, literally the active current active paying members?
David Duffy: No, that's everyone that has ever signed up.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Okay. So about 2000 students have signed up for your course.
David Duffy: Exactly. Yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: Guys. Let's talk about, let's talk about some of the tools you're using next, and we'll start with what, what are you using to host your course currently?
David Duffy: We use LearnDash. Is the system. Yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: Why? Why LearnDash? LearnDash my understanding of it. It's a, it's more of a WordPress plugin.
David Duffy: Yes.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah.
David Duffy: And... WordPress.
Jacques Hopkins: Right, exactly. So a lot of people these days are using like a Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi, ClickFunnels. Why did you guys go with the WordPress plugin, learnDash?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Well, to be honest, we didn't really choose between I, we, we were not choosing our plugins because we have a web web designer who is with us since five years since the beginning of this course. Andrew Miller, who was the person who was, we were deli. We delegated that thing to Andrew and he was responsible for that convenient entirety and we went from LearnDash for the last two years with his proposal.
David Duffy: Yeah, I think, I think, yeah, I think he sent us one or two systems and we just played with them and that one was nice. It just felt nice to use it. It seemed clear as a user and it had a lot of the features we wanted to put in, like things like track your progress and kind of markers and certificates when you pass certain ranges and that kind of thing.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: I guess Andrew is always working with us in the sense we, we sent what we want to have in a, in a program or on the website, what are the important features, what the goals were, and without even giving them this whole analytical request. Then he does the job of choosing and presents like, what do you guys think about this? And we tried to say, okay.
Jacques Hopkins: What other tools are you guys using to to execute the things in your online course business that you like?
David Duffy: In terms of marketing or in terms...
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We use Jam Circle. We use it with a forum. So we installed the forum is at under, what is it that, a plugin.
David Duffy: It's a plugin as well.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We installed this plugin maybe three years ago. We tried, but it started working on the maybe two years ago really, because they're difficult to run a forum. It's an addition, I think, only for members who are using the course, so you can access it. So when you buy a course, when you subscribe, you go to a member's lounge area, and from there you can get to Jam Circle.
That idea of the name comes from the dense circles like ciphers when you're jamming and to, what do people do there? Well, first of all, the presents themselves there, so it's more like, this is where my dress starts. They introduce themselves. Once they subscribed to get as well an auto email managing, but our, all our auto-Mailchimps are designed very usefully that some, they are super personal.
The texts. Where we tell people say, yeah, you can help into Jam Circle and they'll check out what's going on, how to use courses. I explained there all about how to use every course. What's the best way to practice, blah, blah, blah. All the material that they need to actually start practicing and start dancing.
Some other helpful stuff about music and books and you know, we choose to wear, where to practice. We have the section, our jam circle, where people just introduce themselves. They say, where are they from, who they are, what are their interests? What are they looking for in this course? We have a super important feature there that's available for our yearly to subscribers, which is feedback, monthly feedback thing so people can submit once a month their are videos of their practice. Anything they want to get a feedback on, and then I record once a month a video feedback for them about what they, what they've done.
David Duffy: Yeah.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah.
David Duffy: And then marketing tools. I mean, we, we just use Facebook, Instagram, Google ads. That's it. And then other two is, what would you call them tools, it's like YouTube, obviously.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: YouTube is our big, big tool advertisement.
David Duffy: That sends a lot of people away. We use Bitly to track links and and where, where that traffic is coming from.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: We're hosting all our videos on Vimeo...
Jacques Hopkins: Now when you say YouTube is big, you're talking about organic or are you actually doing YouTube ads?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Organic is the first thing do we do, each of us?
David Duffy: We've just started doing this year as well.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Organically when we put that, for example, from my first course or Charleston 20s one when we put one of two, three classes, they just.
David Duffy: Yeah. I think one has 650,000 views.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Yeah. That just grew a lot by themselves. We didn't do anything with that. I guess it was just one of the signature moves of mine at the time. Very viral, funny moves called... so people just go crazy about that move.
David Duffy: And so underneath that you just have a link. If you want to learn more, click here and it brings you to the website.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Very good. And I'm glad you mentioned jam circle because I wanted to ask you about that. I've never heard of it. I saw it on your website just just in like your pricing table in terms of what's included. So that's very interesting that it's kind of a tool people can interact with each other. Introduce themselves, have videos, getting feedback from you. I mean, that's, that's all appealing to me is somebody who teaches people piano. I'd like to be doing similar things. Do you think that's a tool that, that people in other niches as well? Or is it, is it more specific to, to music related things?
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Well...
Jacques Hopkins: It's got the word jam in it.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Well, it's just name we invented. I mean, you can invent any other name for this platform. We at a certain time go to, got very interested in Seth Gordon and peaceful ideas of marketing. And his whole idea is basically create your community and really interact with people with the community. And that was the reason for us creating, actually a jam circle before.
David Duffy: And it was, I mean, it was really us trying to create the best learning user experience as well. Like at some point we really like in the first years, it was just how do we make this thing and sell this DVD? And then at some point we really reflected like, what are we trying to make here? What do we want to do for people?
What would be the nicest way to learn dance online and what's missing from what we currently have. And certainly what was missing was people being able to interact with each other. And certainly people being able to, yeah, if you're learning on your own, sometimes you just don't know the mistakes you're making.
You don't know if it's, if this is the way it should look, even if you're looking in a mirror. So to be able to say hey, how does this look to other people? Or how does this look to Ksenia? Or dance is very important and I guess from music is massively important as well because people sometimes aren't their own best critics. They can't hear the mistakes they're making, you know.
Jacques Hopkins: Right. Hear or see.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Do you know? Do you know the others thought it was at some point to analyze it and lots of people subscribed but then a lot of people just stop using the course. Exactly. And for, for me, I straight, I said straight away, well, Whoa, this, this is not good at all.
I mean, yes, we are earning money, but the idea of someone saying, yes, I signed up for this thing, but you know what? I didn't really see the progress at all after. I don't think if it helps me. For me it was, it was a very important moment that if people sign up, I want them to actually improve to actually, you know, achieve something.
And to do that, I realize I need to encourage them somehow to actually do the courses... practice, you know, continue, rehearse, film videos. And for this we thought, okay, we just need to completely made contact with the people. How do we do it? MailChimp or Jam Circle, we thought this would be best...
Jacques Hopkins: No, that's very true. It's not unlike buying books, right? Most most books that are bought, like they're never actually opened. People just bought buy books and have good intentions and then never actually read it. You could say the same thing about online courses.
Now with the higher price point, typically have an online course. They have a little bit higher kind of start and finish rate than a book, but certainly in most cases, most people will not, will not finish the course. And so that's great that you, that you see that and you're trying to do everything you possibly can to motivate your students to start and, and proceed and finish the course as well.
Really just a couple more questions for you. This next one, I'd like to hear both of your perspectives individually on, and for this question, I want you to kind of put yourself back about five years ago when you were just getting started, and I want you to give, give some advice to somebody that was in that position where you, where you've got this expertise about something. You know, you have something you can share with the world, but you don't really know where to go in terms of turning that knowledge and expertise into an online course. What advice do you have for the beginners out there? Let me start with you Ksenia.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: Well first thing I say, don't be afraid to experiment. Don't be afraid to just start, you know, cause we experimented from day one. We didn't know what to do. Would you know how it works? I didn't know nothing. We just filmed it and we put it online. And since then, during five years, every day, we're figuring things out, and to be honest, for the first two years, we didn't really do anything.
So once you record your knowledge and content, knowledge is probably for me, the most important parts of the online course. Then it comes to... my knowledge that you provide. You know, strong and powerful enough. To me, that's an important part. So yeah, believe in your content. Make sure that the content that you put out there... works for you.
Once you put it out, it's out there and you have loads of time to figure out marketing, Mailchimp, you know the ins and outs of all this process, but as well, the second advice I would say... just Google all the websites that are out there for maybe your competitors and people that do like exactly the same swing dances or guitar lessons or whatever it is, and just like we did an Excel sheets... see who's charging what... proposes what... now when you see that perspective of the field. The ocean where you're in currently you can just start the decisions...
David Duffy: Yeah, I agree. Like that was, again, definitely your advice is great. Just get started and I mean, I'm, we're, we're, we both go to this all the time as creatives in our own view. Like you just, once you start, then you'll evolve but if you wait to have the perfect products to put online. It will never be perfect, I don't think won't launch perfectly.
I don't think it matters. That alone perfectly. What matters that it starts and then you refine and you refine, refine, and maybe it will take two or three or four years. I don't know. Till you get the product, you actually want it, but if you, if you just keep refining all the time before you start, maybe that won't happen.
From my perspective, again, something you touched on early in our is just pictures and video. You know, like that's, it's so important just for anyone, quality, you know, that's the only thing you can feel. I think Ksenia is right 100% that the content has to have that quality. What people may not even bother to see if they care about the content. It's the images and the video are high enough quality, and it's, it's easy now you know. Everyone has cameras are affordable, pictures are affordable, photographers are affordable, videographers are, they're everywhere.
I think your stuff just needs to be 4K or HD and just everything needs to be like amazing now because people expect that every YouTube or... every person is doing that though. And so to even enter the market, I think that's a good place to begin you know.
Jacques Hopkins: So get started. Actually do something. Don't be scared. High quality in everything you do and model your... model your stuff after things that are working on that last one, have you ever heard the term funnel hacking?
David Duffy: No.
Jacques Hopkins: That's a phrase used in the ClickFunnels community, which is what I use to host my course. You guys use LearnDash, I use ClickFunnels and they call that funnel hacking, and some people are like, is that hacking? Like is that ethical? Would it, no. It's like looking to see what else is out there and modeling your stuff, your marketing, your price, whatever you're talking about after that. So you guys are, you guys are funnel hackers and you didn't...
Ksenia, David, secretsofsolo.com, thanks so much for joining me here today.
All right. That's a wrap on the conversation with Ksenia and David Duffy. David Krohse, welcome back.
David Krohse: Thank you.
Jacques Hopkins: This was a fun one. This was a lot of fun. It's been a little bit since we've had like me having two people on the other end. I've had like husband and wives on before, and this was a really, really cool one. I just love the success stories where you've got where you've got the husband and wife duo, and one of them is like the, the, the, the person with the craft, right? Like the artist. And then the other one's more of the business side and the marketing side. Because I think in a lot of situations, the ideal scenarios where you have those two different minds, there's two different types of people.
David Krohse: Yeah. I love that part of the story. Obviously Ksenia just amazing energy and charisma and then David just being the visionary that that makes it happen. I loved here in the part where it's like this battle between artistic versus commercial where Ksenia wants it to be just totally, it just, you know, authentic, artistic, and David's like, he's probably over there, I don't think he's like trying to make it like an infomercial, but he's like selling his service. You know? He's like, you gotta you can't help these people if they don't purchase your product. But I loved hearing about that battle.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. There's no doubt about that. I mean, there's probably, there's probably better like piano teachers out there just better at that craft, but, but I, I would, I would venture to say I'm probably better at the, the selling and marketing side of things, which is why piano in 21 days is so successful. You've got to find that line.
And sometimes if you can't do it yourself, you've got to find the right person. And you know, I love a, I don't know if you've ever read like good to great by Jim Collins, but one of the, one of my biggest takeaways from that book is, is he talks about how you want to get the right people on the bus even before you figure out where the bus is going.
So sometimes it's, it's not a matter of like, what am I going to do or how am I going to do it? Yeah. It's more of a question of who, and in this case, I think the who's lined up just perfectly from obviously a relationship standpoint, but then from a business standpoint as well. That's why I asked the question to Ksenia like, do you think this would even exist if you'd never met David? And, and so it was just a perfect, who match in this case.
David Krohse: Yeah. I was kind of curious, just thinking about the husband, wife team, I believe your wife has a side hustle or like a business. My wife has two different ones. Like to what extent are you, are you assisting her in the way that David assist or kind of like does a lot of the management of the program with Ksenia, Ksenia?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I, I, I'm certainly not involved in my wife's business near to the level of, say David is with Ksenia, but she's, she's in a business that I don't know a lot about. She's, she sells physical items, you know, paper stuff, stationary, you know, birthday invitations, wedding invitations, and she's, she's amazing at it.
She's just a true artist at it. By the way, if anybody needs any of that wedding invitations. Birthday invitations, stationary, anything, paper products of any kind. Lifeispaper.com that's my wife is my wife's business and I'm a little biased, but I think she does phenomenal work, but she's, she's a true artist there and she definitely needs help on the business side of things because she just wants to focus on her craft.
And so I've certainly helped her like get her website up and running and with some of the tech, you know, WordPress and getting like woo commerce set up so that she can sell things and then getting, you know, she's got to think about things like sales tax, which is, which is really a complicated thing when you're selling to not just a local audience.
So helping your integrate a software called tax jar to help with that. So I help her when she needs it, but I don't feel any sort of responsibility to help drive the business. Kind of like, like David Duffy is kind of responsible overall for the marketing efforts and the sales efforts it seems like for for their business.
David Krohse: Yeah, my wife, she has a company called Granola Face Skincare, and it's these natural skincare products, and I've, I've kind of encouraged her, I'm like, why don't you make videos? And she's just like, no, I don't think I want to do that. But lately, you know, we talk, I mean, we listened to, she listens to this podcast and I'm like. You know, I don't want you to do something that's like outside of your comfort level, but my wife loves finding a blog where somebody does a review or provides value. I'm like, the the right type of marketing is the kind that you respond to. You know, she and I both respond to marketing where people provide value, and so I'm just like, you know. Start making videos where you share valuable tips. You don't even have to talk a bunch about your product, but just build that trust. My wife is now starting a blog, so she's, she wants to put that valuable content out there and just grow her business that way.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, videos at the end of the day, they're not for everybody. You know, I, I always encourage course creators to pick a platform that you can put content out there for free and stick with it. And that advice would apply to more than just course creators too. Typically, I recommend people start a YouTube channel or podcast, but you know that neither one of those are going to be for everybody, and sometimes just the written word of a blog is going to be the right is the right fit.
I think there's a, there's a, there's a platform out there for everybody. You just got to find it and maybe maybe a blog is best for your wife in this case, and I'd rather see her start a blog then did nothing.
All right, man. Any other takeaways from this conversation?
David Krohse: Well, I was laughing out loud when they talked about their Facebook ads trial and how this like click farm in Mexico. They had like thousands of people sign up and like take the free class and then nobody actually bought or purchased the actual paid course.
I mean, I think there's a valuable lesson to be learned. There is just like, you know, I think right now you're feeling like Facebook ads hasn't really worked for you. And you know, they had this experience where they were like, that just didn't work. I mean, I think the big lesson is like anybody looking in from the outside would be, would say, well, just because one try did not work doesn't mean it doesn't work. You just haven't found the formula yet.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, and I think in my case, I just haven't found that right who yet. Like I'm not interested in mastering Facebook ads myself. I have way too much, too many other things to worry about. And so I just, you know, I think the right fit is out there for, for running Facebook ads for me. And this is certainly not an invitation yet. For, for to, for everybody to start bombarding me that you can do my Facebook ads.
But you know, that speaking of that, that click farm, I have a funny story years ago when I was just getting started with piano in 21 days and Facebook ads were like the new hot thing, you know, I tried it out myself and, and I wasn't, you know, targeting country's properly, and I was a, I was, I was running, I was planning on this live webinar, live webinar where these were, was this hot thing as well.
I mean, we're talking probably 2014 may be 2015 and I started all of a sudden getting a ton of opt-ins for my webinar. I'm like, Oh my gosh. And I was, I was getting registrations for less than a dollar, just like constant, constant, constant. And I looked into it and every single one of them was coming from India.
Which I think you're, there was genuine interest there, but the reason I was getting those opt-ins for so cheaply is because of the, you know, exchange rate. And, and they, they wouldn't, most, most people in India just simply wouldn't be able to actually afford my course. So I was paying for the those registrations when in reality and in, by the way, my kids are home from school, so if you hear a little bit of that in the background, we're just going to plow through it.
They can be a little rowdy. My kids are two and four, but I was paying for that even though they were cheap, you know, none of them ever actually bought, bought. So that's one of my negative experiences with, with Facebook ads as well.
David Krohse: I actually have an idea for a Facebook ad for you if you want to hear it. I haven't shared this with you yet.
Jacques Hopkins: Let's do it, man. All right, let's do, I mean, I, you shared your, you share your idea with me for a Superbowl ad for piano in 21 days. I think. I think an idea for a Facebook ad is a little more possible for me at this point.
Ksenia Parkhatskaya: All right. Well, yeah, I mean, so basically it would start out with just you at the piano and you'd play like this line of a song and then it would pan out and there'd be for you and three of your students playing the song, like just that same line again, just some catchy line.
And then it would pan out again and you'd have 16 people all playing, and then it just, and then it just jumps into like, you know, join the movement. And, you know, over 2,000 people have learned to play piano in 21 days. There's over 400 5-star reviews. And just, I mean, obviously I know that you don't want it to sound like you're teaching people just to do exactly what you do.
So that's where you'd go in and be like, you know, the whole idea is that you can learn a song on your own. With my five step process. Obviously then you're just trying to get people to a webinar, but I just thought that initial, that initial part might actually get people to like watch as it pans out and you see it go from one person to 16 people on the screen. So I thought that could be something that would just be eye catching.
Jacques Hopkins: That's was very creative in, in, dare I say, brilliant, David. Thank you for that, for that input. I might have to, once I do crank up Facebook ads at some point, I'll have to consider that, but I mean, I'm doing some YouTube ads that could work as a YouTube ad possibly as well.
David Krohse: There you go.
Jacques Hopkins: All right, David. Well, let's, let's put a bow on this episode. That was a, I thought, a great conversation with Ksenia and David Duffy brought a lot of great takeaways from it. So thank you, David Krohse for joining me for this episode and thank you everyone out there for listening to another episode of The Online Course Show.
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