“I put a lot [of my audience’s feedback] into packaging up what needed to be in my course.”
– Autumn Witt
Autumn shared a wealth of insight on how new and old course creators alike can identify legal concerns and take action no matter what stage your business is in. I’m still mulling over what I learned in today’s episode, and I’m definitely going to be taking some of Autumn’s advice for my own online course business.
In This Episode, We Talked About:
- (3:32) Celebrating wins and sharing a fun giveaway I did for my piano students
- (6:16) What makes this podcast different
- (6:55) What percent of my students are in the US, and what does that have to do with my accent?
- (9:29) An idea I’m considering as a way to serve my students better
- (12:56) Affiliate updates for my course
- (17:02) Introducing Autumn and how she helps course creators
- (19:58) The biggest mistake course creators make when it comes to legal considerations
- (23:33) Templates versus working with an attorney for custom legal advice
- (24:20) Big online course names that Autumn has worked with
- (24:54) Legal concerns to know when starting an online course
- (26:36) Dealing with refund requests and disputed charges
- (28:27) How scaling up affects your business legally
- (29:41) How much does registering a trademark cost?
- (30:53) Questions about pirating and plagiarism
- (34:50) Autumn’s own online course journey
- (37:04) Who can benefit from Autumn’s course
- (38:43) Favorite tools and platforms
- (40:22) Autumn’s advice for new course creators
- (42:25) Her team and where to find her online
- (43:32) David and I discuss how not to be an ostrich
- (45:23) Thoughts on handling disputes and choosing your battles
- (49:47) Reducing barriers to entry versus covering your legal bases
- (51:56) Trademark stories with David
- (53:33) Respect and dealing with unreasonable people
- (57:16) Wrapping up
Whew, that about does it for today! Thanks so much for tuning in!
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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 Chuck 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 Shak Hopkins, and here with me is our cohost David. Cozy.
David Krohse: Hey, what's up?
Jacques Hopkins: What's up? David? Cozy. And we're excited to dive into all things online courses with you today. We are on episode one 34 today. This is a legal episode. David, how excited are you about talking legal stuff today?
David Krohse: Oh man. I don't know. Illegal stuff sounds hard, but I, I'll give the listeners a preview. I mean, that the interview is actually really great. So.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, it's, it was really a really good conversation. I really enjoyed talking to autumn. She, you know, you can drop names and, and sometimes when you drop names. It gives you credibility, or sometimes you're just dropping names for the sake of dropping names. But like when I, if I say, okay, this is Amy Porterfield's lawyer, right? That that gives her instant credibility and that's who we had on this show to that Amy Porterfield, most people know who that is. She's big in the marketing space, online course space, and, and an autumn came on to talk with me.
In in when we'll play the episode or the conversation in a little bit, obviously to talk about just what course creators need to be concerned about from a legal perspective. And I just, you know, I mentioned this to her during the conversation, but like, I don't like the legal side. Like, I never, like I had a lot of friends in law school.
I even have a lot of lawyer friends today and I just don't like that part, man. But yeah. We've, we've got to do it. We can't ignore it. So, so everybody listening, stay tuned cause it's, it's really good stuff. But before we get into the legal stuff, let's just, you know, do our normal little catch up. What's been going on? I have something I want to share with you, man. I don't really think I've even told you about this, but I did something so fun with my piano students and they loved it. I want to tell you guys about it. You ready?
David Krohse: All right, let's hear it.
Jacques Hopkins: I got three bottles of Dom Perignon champagne. Engraved with the piano in 21 days. Logo. All right. And what I did with those, and this is basically like to celebrate, like I had a really good month in April and I didn't, I didn't tell them like, Hey guys, record month in sales or anything like that. I just told them like, look. I'm celebrating like piano in 21 days is going really well.
Like I have a job right now through all this pandemic stuff. More people than ever are learning piano through this. More of you are like posting videos and this and that and I want to celebrate and I want to celebrate with you. And so what I told them is I got these three bottles, it's got the logo on it.
Me and my wife are going to drink one of the bottles to celebrate and I'm going to. Ship out the other two to two of you. These are for my, my existing students, right? So there's, there's no catch at all. And all they had to do, and I need, I needed them to be in the United States. Only like 40 to 50% of my students are actually in the United States.
So I, I do feel bad about not being able to do it for everybody. I've got some other ideas for. How to serve those people as well. But I told them they need to be in the United States and at least 21 years old obviously, and then they just had to comment and let me know if they were interested. Like if they were in for the raffle, basically, because I didn't want to, you know, pick somebody's name for somebody that you know is an alcoholic or, you know, doesn't drink.
And so I had about probably 80 of my students ended up. Opting in and in the last time I did my live stream with them, I put all their names in a hat, like literally took the hat off my head, put it, put their names in, and I drew two names and yesterday morning each, each of those people, I shipped out a bottle of piano in 21 days Dom Perignon.
David Krohse: Oh man, that's awesome.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, just looking for more ways lately to just really serve my existing students as well as possible. I think the more Goodwill that's out there about me and my course, the better, and I just thought that was something fun I could do. And you know, I'm, I'm excited. I've never had Don Perignon. I've been to the place where they make it in champagne. France didn't even get to taste it there and we still haven't cracked open our bottle, even though I've had it for a couple of weeks now. But I'm excited to check that out here soon.
David Krohse: That's great. Well, I love the idea of celebrating just every phase of the course journey. And again, I mean, just to hear that final number that you reached in April is just, you know, I've been thinking about this podcast and, and why it's so fun to listen to, and it really is this like kind of butterfly transformation story. If you look at both your. Your journey and Nate's journey where Nate started and where he's at now.
You know, it's really cool. And what was interesting within the last couple of weeks, I actually tried to search out another podcast that has, has like this transformation where somebody starts out, you know, mildly successful or doesn't have anything. And over a period of like months, you could listen to their journey. I can't find one. And so what, you know, the idea of going back and listening to day one and then going forward. And hearing you go from, you know, a $30,000 a month to 132,000 I mean, that's just, just so neat.
Jacques Hopkins: Thanks man. I appreciate it.
David Krohse: 40% of your students are in the U S so what is the breakdown like where are all these other people? And that's awesome to have such a global course.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, dude, you wouldn't believe the amount of UK students I have, like the UK is, is a big fan of piano in 21 days. If you go to my website and click on testimonials at the top, that's one of the most important pages on my website. There's a lot of video testimonials there, and if you, if you just start playing some of them, you'll notice a ton of them have, you know, non-American accents.
There's a lot of, there's a lot of people from the UK and Australia and so on and so. The breakdown is, is you know, us is, is top, but just barely, and then UK would be, would it be right there? I've got a lot of Canadian students, lot of Canadian students in Australia, and a little bit of New Zealand, South Africa. That's kind of the order of countries, but the big three is U S UK and Canada.
David Krohse: I wonder how much of that has to do with these other countries, finding your accent sexy. Did they comment on that at all? My buddy, so one of my cycling friends is from New Zealand. He's a Kiwi. And this dude was just telling me, like, he said, I was nobody until I came to the United States and he said, you would not believe.
He said, I can walk into a room and start talking. And like every girl in the room, just their head whips toward him and he said, you know, he could talk about a, you know, the most boring subject in the world. He could talk about a hammer and they're just like, mesmerized. Do you get any comments like that?
Jacques Hopkins: Not one bit, man. I never, I've literally never heard anybody ever. Like a F, like somebody's not an American. Talk about an American's accent being sexy. Like obviously we have this, this thing about most, most outside accents, whether it's, you know, English or Australian or New Zealand, or even people whose language is not.
English is not their first language, like a French person speaking English is kind of sexy and so on, but I've never heard anybody say that an American accent is sexy, so I certainly haven't heard that about myself, and I don't think that's the, I don't think that's the case. I think it's just that. We, it's a global economy with the internet and people in the UK are finding my course, just like people in the U S are finding my course through Google, right?
google.co. Dot. UK or youtube.co. Dot. UK and my stuff is showing up there just as highly, if not more highly than my stuff is showing up. In the U S so that's, that's what I think, man. So on this note of, trying to serve my students as, as well as possible. I've recently, like in the past week, I had this idea that I think could be just like, like, I don't know, this is probably a hyperbole, but like revolutionary in the for online course creators. You want me to, you want to hear it?
David Krohse: Let's hear.
Jacques Hopkins: It. You don't sound, you don't sound excited, man. I'm about to change the online course game. All right?
David Krohse: So I want to have control my excitement over here.
Jacques Hopkins: All right? So I want to have a section inside of my course where it's a section where my students are the teacher. So what I'm, what I'm getting at is this. I have literally been playing piano since I was five years old. I'm 34 so I've been, I've been playing piano to some level. I've been playing piano for almost 30 years. Right? And so I have a certain perspective when I am explaining how to play piano to a beginner, right?
And, and I am so far removed from the beginner side of things, but if somebody, let's say somebody signed up for my course. Two months ago and had never touched a piano and was like super motivated. Went through it every day. We're here two months later and they are playing actual songs and it sounds great and they had incredible amount of success.
How much better would they be able to explain a certain beginner topic? Having just been a beginner themselves two months ago as opposed to 30 years ago.
David Krohse: That sounds crazy. So wait, so, so people, I mean, when a Facebook group is working, how you hope it, hope it does. People do this, but how are you going to integrate it into your course?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. So it's happening already organically. Like you're like you're mentioning, like I, there's this topic called transposing and a lot of my students have, have trouble with it. You know, I teach it in the course and I try to teach it. I, it always comes up in the, in the Facebook lives, and I do my best to explain it to beginners.
Like, people are more on the beginner side. Well, one of my students made up. Seven minute video. He knows. He noticed that I kept getting this question over and over again. He made like a seven minute video explaining it from his perspective, and he did way better at explaining it than I did. Right. So there's been a couple of instances of that happening organically recently, and so I'm like.
Huh? I wonder if we could make this a little more official. So I'm just thinking a dedicated section within the course somewhere. I don't even know what it would be called yet, but, but we would have like, here's Dora and explaining transposing, here's Tracy explaining, you know, left-hand patterns and so on and so, and then I could also point people there, like if somebody comments in the Facebook group, Hey, I'm having trouble with transposing, I can be like, well look, go to the course and check out Doreen's video and then let us know if you still have questions.
David Krohse: Yeah, that's perfect. Yeah. Everybody explains things differently and everybody has that unique perspective and I love it. Sounds great.
Jacques Hopkins: Cool. Well, that's just an idea and I haven't implemented it yet, certainly, but I'm excited about it. I'm really excited about it and I've been really excited about helping my students succeed even more lately, and it's.
It seems to be really paying off my community and everything with with piano in 21 days is going really well. The, the, the Goodwill about the brand piano in 21 days is, is really high right now. I don't want to keep it that way. One other thing worth mentioning, David, is I've got a cool affiliate deal going on right now that I, you know, I don't have much experience with affiliate stuff, haven't, I don't have a lot of affiliates of piano in 21 days, but I'm working on growing that and Zack Evans have become a piano superhuman, who's, he's got one of the biggest.
Piano courses out there, reach out to me about being an affiliate to try to just serve his audience in a different way. And he blast it out. His, his, his affiliate link to my free workbook yesterday and has already made seven sales in the past 24 hours. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And that's just the very beginning of the funnel.
So the funnel is about two weeks long, and just within the first 24 hours, we made seven sales. Well over a thousand, opt-ins coming from him. So that's, that's cool, man. Just, you know, synergistic deal. You know, we're, we're not looking at each other as competition, but seeing how we can serve each other. And I think there's a place for me to be an affiliate of his within my course somewhere as well. So I'm excited about that too.
David Krohse: Well. Has he been on your podcast?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, he has, man. I don't know. We need to look back. You know, Emily, we'll put that episode in the show notes, I'm sure. Because right now, Hey, Emily, put that up episode in the show notes.
David Krohse: But what is, what is his, what are the people that follow him? They're more advanced. Most of them.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So he, he teaches more like intermediate pianists to get to be more advanced pianists. Right. Whereas I'm more complete beginner.
David Krohse: That's awesome. So I wonder if it's people that are following his and they're like, Oh, I can have my wife learn here, or my, my husband learned here. My mom gets started with this. I wonder how it's playing out in these actual people's homes. But that is, that's awesome.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, keep in mind that he, he sent it out to, I think he sent it out to his purchasers, but the main people he sent it out was just people on his email list that I'd never purchased for him from him.
So it's probably a lot of people that. You know, got on his email list and maybe it wasn't quite for them and mine is for them. That's awesome. Yeah. So that's what's up. That's what's going on over here, man. Anything new with you?
David Krohse: Oh, not a whole lot. I've been, mainly I've been reading that copy secrets and then I'm halfway through StoryBrand. I, I listen to podcasts by a Donald Miller, but I never actually read the book, but I'm enjoying just diving into copy. You know, some of the key takeaways from that copy copy secrets are copywriting secrets. The one that's writing secret copywriting secrets. It's are endorsed by Bronson, but just that importance of the headline, just that there's that first sentence has to get people to actually dive in, and I kind of already knew that, but I'm just going back and looking at my things and he gives some formulas that work most successfully.
The other thing is most most people on their sales page will have a bullet list. And he says, each bullet needs the feature, the benefit and the meaning to the person. And so like in yours it would be like, you know, 20 lessons or 20 minutes per day, which means you can learn super quick with the minimal time investment on then. And then. Which means you can impress your family and friends super quick. And so that third part is like that fulfillment, like what it actually means to their life. And so I've got, I've been going back and editing pages. It's been helpful.
Jacques Hopkins: Nice. Very cool. And I'm very surprised that you've never read StoryBrand. And it's very interesting that that's one of the top books for marketing. Well, good. it's always good to, you know, be learning and sharpening the saw and then, and then not only that, but implementing what you're learning, it's sound. It sounds like you're doing that, so that's great to hear. All right, well this has been a lot of fun, but let's go ahead and shift back to the legal, the legal topic.
And for that, we're going to bring in autumn, who, this was a great conversation. She, she, she helps a lot of online business owners and a lot of course creators with the legal side of things. So obviously we'll talk about, talk about the, the conversation a little bit on the backend. So until then, let's go ahead and play the full conversation. Okay. welcome to the online course show.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Thanks so much for having me.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, it's my pleasure. I'm excited to have you on and get into this a little bit. I think you're probably the first legal expert that we've had on so far over a hundred episodes in, so we'll get into it a little bit. And so just start. Who is it that you help and how is it that you are helping them. Yeah.
Autumn Witt Boyd: So we work with all kinds of online business owners, but a lot of course creators. So I hope I'm in the right place. We work with coaches, consultants, and a lot of them go from doing one-on-one work or group programs to creating an online course. So it's a lot of people doing a lot of different things, but a lot of them have a course and we help them in two ways.
So if they are new, a newer business, we do sell contract templates, which are a digital download. So they're very affordable. They're. It takes about 20 minutes to get them filled in, up and running. And so for a lot of businesses who maybe aren't ready to work with a lawyer or just don't have the budget, those are a great way to go.
Just start with legal. And then for our clients who are a little further along in their business, you know, maybe at that six figure going up to seven or eight figure Mark, we work with them one on one to do all kinds of legal strategy. We help them register trademarks and copyrights. We do one-on-one contracts. We help when unexpected things or disputes pop up. We help them work their way through that. So really we're, we're a full service law firm with a very specific niche of just working with online, online business owners.
Jacques Hopkins: Now, do you have any courses of your own, or is that, is it pretty much more of a service? Oh, really? Okay. Interesting. So we can hit this from a few angles there.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. About a year and a half ago, I started my own. It is a legal course, which will not surprise you.
Jacques Hopkins: What's the specific topic of your course?
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, it is. It's called the legal roadmap for online course creators, and it is basically everything that a course creator needs legally. So it includes a bunch of our best templates for course creators, and then we have videos that guide them through filling them out. We have information about protecting their trademarks and dealing with clients issues. So it's kind of. The whole gamut. Of course, creator.
Jacques Hopkins: I love it. Well, maybe I'll check it out. I can start pointing people there cause I gotta be honest with you, autumn. Like the legal stuff just makes my brain spit. In fact, shortly after I went through undergrad and I started working as an engineer a very, very, very long time ago before I started doing this stuff. my roommate was going through law school, was my best friend, and he would come home and talk about this stuff.
He was, he was going through it and it just. There, there was nothing I wanted to do less. The, the legal stuff is just not me. It never has been. And so now today, you know, as a, as I'm doing consulting with people about online courses and even in my own online course business, like I just, I just cringe about the legal side of things.
So, and I think a lot of people are like that too. You either kind of love the law or you hate the law. And so I'm excited to talk to you about this a little bit. And, and get some of those answers, those answers to questions that I have. And a lot of people ask me and I'm like, I don't know. We need to, we need to find out.
So that's great that you, you know, you serve people with your services, you have an online course as well. Fantastic. So let me ask you this. I've got a lot of questions, obviously, but what are the best, what are the biggest mistakes that you see people making that don't really know what they're doing from a legal perspective with online business and online course businesses.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. I think the biggest one is kind of what you hinted at, which is just burying your head in the sand and not dealing with it. Legal exists and it affects your business, whether you pay attention to it or not, and so it is always going to be cheaper, easier, more effective to deal with it early rather than just kind of ignoring it and waiting until you have problems come up, which we can talk about some problems. I see. I'm behind the curtains of a lot of really big businesses, so I've seen some big problems and we want to avoid those.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, you know, in the short term, it's always easier to just ignore things. Right? In the longterm, it can usually come back to bite you. Now, you know. W when people are just getting started, one of the first, like legal related questions that I see is like privacy policies and links that show up in the footer and disclaimers.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, absolutely. So that is one of the, the basic things that I recommend people start with, and I will give a plug for my own templates. They are really easy to use and very affordable. The danger with copying someone else's is everyone customizes theirs and you don't know kind of what they've left out or what choices they made when they were filling theirs in. They probably got a template from somewhere or maybe copied it. And so anytime you're copying something, you don't really know where it came from or you're not sure it's complete.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, so those are confusing. I like to call the ones that are just on your public facing website terms and conditions. And that is. Basically the rules of the road for someone visiting your website. So it tells them you own all the content. It tells them can they leave a post on your blog or can you delete things if they, you know, maybe somebody posts the same comment 10 times, you can tell them, you can delete that. It could include your disclaimers.
So that may be if you're like me and you are a lawyer, but your blog is not legal advice, you might put a disclaimer there. Some other, if you're doing affiliate marketing, you might put your disclosures there so it can kind of be a catch all. Your terms and conditions.
Jacques Hopkins: What about results? Because as online course owners and creators, typically we, we have products out there that that promise results for people. Do we need to have some sort of of results? Disclaimer, I mean, you can take my online piano course. For example. I do have something called a results disclaimer because I want to make it clear to people, Hey, I'm not guaranteeing in any way you're going to learn piano in 21 days.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Even though that's literally the name of the course.
Jacques Hopkins: Even though it's literally the name of the course. Is that, is that smart as that's what I should be doing?
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yes. It's a great idea. So any time, especially like weight loss, any, any business oriented course you want to be thinking about, not over promising. So of course people buy our courses because they want to achieve a result, but you need to be really clear.
You know, we're going to do our best, but you've got to put in the time and effort too. And so sometimes it's called an earnings disclaimer or a results disclaimer, but those are a great idea and that's a good place to put them.
Jacques Hopkins: Okay. Now, do you have templates for those on your site or is that more something that you would want to work with a lawyer directly on?
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. Those are included in our terms and conditions template. Okay. But then I do have some clients who are in kind of specific fields, like I spoke last week with a woman who's a, she's a cancer doctor and she's going to be doing, and some online training, very similar to her field. And so she was really worried, you know, wanting to make it very clear.
She's not giving medical advice. In these online trainings. And so if it's something like that where the stakes are a little higher, you know, she's worried about her medical license or maybe being sued for malpractice. You know, I always say you want to keep your legal proportionate to your risk. And so you know where you have a higher risk.
It may make more sense to spend a little bit more and work with an attorney on something like that. Or if you're a tax professional and you're doing an online course about taxes, you know, you want to be really careful.
Jacques Hopkins: So speaking of your clients, have you worked with any, any course creating people out there that we may have heard of.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Probably so Amy Porterfield is one of my, probably most of them.
Jacques Hopkins: Clients. Yeah. Yeah.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Awesome. Yeah. We also work with Shaleen Johnson. We work with a bunch of people who are in the life coach school. I don't know if you, any of your listeners are familiar with that, but we work with a lot of their really high profile coaches who also sell online courses and do all kinds of other things. But yeah, we, I am a big fan of networking, and so I've kind of networked my way into some of those circles, so they're really fun to work with.
Jacques Hopkins: So what other things should I says? Online business, all my course business owners be concerned about from a legal perspective.
You're going to tell them your refund policy. If you have an online community with your course, you could have any rules for how that works. If you have rules around confidentiality or. You know, students not sharing, what other students share in your online community. You know, some of these communities are really private, especially in, in kind of the life coaching sector or you know, things that are more personal or medical.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, that's ideal. And it depends on your tech, kind of how that works. Some people just put on the button that says buy or you know, by clicking the buy button, you are agreeing there's several different ways, but the thing to keep in mind is you want them to take some affirmative action.
Okay. And they need to be able to see those terms views before they take the action. Because it is a binding contract. So you, you're not really agreeing to something if you don't have a chance.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So it should be in your, your records with the receipt from when the person that person buys. Okay. If you don't have another good way to prove that, I mean, check again, check your software. But another good idea would just be to take a screenshot of your checkout page, you know, and every time you update it, you take a new screenshot and just file it away just in case.
Because as you, it sounds like maybe you have had a chargeback or two shock. It's not much fun to deal with, but they will want evidence. It's almost like being in court. They want, they want you to show evidence that the person really did agree. I have been.
Jacques Hopkins: In business sewing an online piano course for seven years. I probably had. Five disputes maybe ever. So it's not a lot, but here's the thing.
Autumn Witt Boyd: It's going to happen.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Here's the thing. The first like three or four that came through, I submitted all the evidence. I did everything that they asked me to do, and I didn't win a single one. Right. So the last one or two that have come through, it's just, it's just not more worth my time knowing I'm going to lose. Do you have any tips on dispute on disputing disputes.
Autumn Witt Boyd: No, I mean, it sounds like you're doing everything right. The credit card companies and the, the payment processors always side with the, with the buyer. So. It's easier. I will say online courses are tricky. It's a little easier if it's more of a one on one service where you can like show emails where you provided coaching calls that were promised or things like that.
It is tougher with an online course, especially if it's not a really high dollar course. You know, like you said it, it just isn't always worth your time to fight a battle.
Jacques Hopkins: Now, as a, as we scale up in our businesses and we get more and more successful, are there different things that we need to consider different problems that might creep up from a legal perspective as we scale up.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, absolutely. So as you're scaling up. I started to think more about protecting your content and protecting your brand, so that becomes thinking about copyrights, which is going to be all of the content of your course or maybe your blog content. It could even be podcasts, although people aren't typically registering those with the copyright office and then the name of either your course or your program or your company that's going to be protectable by trademark.
And so what we see is as your profile rises, as you get more well known, people start copying you and you can't necessarily stop that. You can't prevent it. But having those rights registered with the governmental agencies gives you a better way to shut people down. When you do find that people are starting to use your stuff without permission.
Jacques Hopkins: And that's, that's one of the things that you and your firm offer is, is trademark registration.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, absolutely. And that is, you know, I'm a big fan of DIY and a lot of legal because I think something's better than nothing. But this is an area where I really do recommend, you know, it's easy to mess up. If it's something that you're thinking about, you know, just budgeting for it, saving for it, making sure that you do it right. The first time.
Jacques Hopkins: I've had like register, you know, piano in 21 days. Trey bark on my like someday list for for years probably. It's just always been kind of daunting about where to go, who to go to, how much is even going to cost. Like can you give us a ballpark on about how much it costs to register a trademark.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, so if you're doing it on your own, there are trademark office filing fees and those rains, they start at $225 and it's per category of the goods and services you're selling for most online course creators. I'm registering in three classes, so multiply to 25 by three. I went to law school so I wouldn't have to do math, so I'm not great at it, but that'll give you a ballpark if you do it on your own. It's still on, you know. 700 something dollars, right? Just in filing fees. If you're working with a lawyer at another thousand 2000 to that, just for their time.
Jacques Hopkins: And that's not bad. For some reason, I had in my head like $20,000 or something. So I.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Met several people to me, and when I, when I give them our price, we charge a flat fee. It's around $3,000 for our firm. But every farm is different. And I've had other people say that like, I thought he was gonna be $50,000. No, it's not nothing, but it's not crazy.
Jacques Hopkins: Interesting. And by the way, math is so much more fun than law. I can't believe you would say that. All right.
Autumn Witt Boyd: So.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, there you go. All right. So I've gotten several questions recently. People having had their course pirated. I haven't experienced this myself. I think it's because I'm teaching piano, whereas the ones that I'm hearing from are more business oriented, like they're teaching somebody to start some sort of business. I think it's more prevalent there. But what are, what are some things that people can do proactively to, to prevent that from happening? And then once it happens, what are the steps that you recommend taking?
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah, so proactively, I would definitely register the copyrights to your course materials and it's going to take a little while to go through, but you don't want to be scrambling to do that when you have your first copycat pop up.
So that is not expensive. That filing fee is $65. And I am a big, I still do this for my clients. I filed a copyright, but the form is a little more forgiving on the copyright side. So register, you can send it all in together, register the content. That means later on, if you find someone who's pirated your course, you can send them a cease and desist letter.
You can negotiate more effectively because you can't file a lawsuit until you have that registration certificate in your hand. And so everyone knows if they receive a cease and desist letter, you haven't bothered to register it. That you can't file a lawsuit. So it's kind of like you're, you're all all bark and no bite.
So that's the first thing. And then it's been pirated and it's been put up on a course platform, like I think of Vic or Punjabi. You can reach out to that platform and most of them have just a form you fill out. And they'll take it down right away. And a lot of them are somewhat proactive, especially if you're one of their customers and they see something that looks fishy, you know, they'll do some, some monitoring, but they don't, they can't catch everything, especially if it's a platform that you're not a customer of.
And if it's just, you know, on the internet there's other things you can do that's harder. If it's on a social media platform or like a course platform, those are the easiest ones to shut it down because you can file just an infringement report and usually they'll take it right down.
Jacques Hopkins: What about the cases where it's not just directly like stealing. What about the cases where, and I'll give you a specific example. I had somebody come to me who, they had a student go through their course and then that student started a brand very similar to his and all the content was very, very similar. It was still the student on camera teaching this stuff. So it wasn't directly stealing, but it was, it was very, very close. Is there anything we can do about that?
So you can't really protect the idea of a course on Instagram or a course on YouTube marketing. So I get, I see a lot of people who say, Oh, Monica, my students ripped me off. Well, they didn't really. And so, you know, the best thing. The best thing I would say is, you know, provide really great service. Make your stuff the best out there, and that's going to be your best protection because your student, your student is never going to be as good as you, you know?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, I love that answer because I want to have the best online piano course out there, but I also want people coming to me because they want to learn piano for me, I want them to want to learn piano from jog. And so if somebody rips off my stuff, that's cool.
Like they can, they can have their own brand, whatever. And at the end of the day, hopefully I've done a good enough job to where. Most people are gonna rather learn piano from Jack rather than Joe blow who's trying to teach piano in 20 days instead of 21 days.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. I think especially with online courses, a lot of it is personality and a lot of it is, you know, people come to you because they like your style, they like the way you teach, and so there's a lot of value in that. It's not just the content.
Jacques Hopkins: All right. Well let's, let's talk about autumn, the course creator, and not as much autumn the, the lawyer at this point. So you, you launched your online course a year and a half ago, I think is what you said. What, what was your process like for, for getting into the world of online courses?
Autumn Witt Boyd: Well, I had a lot of clients who sold online courses and I was actually chatting with one of them who's really successful. She teaches a weight loss course, and she basically looked at me and she was like, autumn, why can't we not take your one-on-one process and make it into a course? And I kept saying, no, no, no.
It's too, it's too personal. You know, everyone has a special butterfly. They all need. You know, different things. But we sat down and we whiteboard it and she said, you know, what are what? What are the five things that every online course creator needs? And I just rattled them off. I was like, Oh, that's so easy.
And she's like, there's your course. So then it was just, you know, figuring out the tech, you know, making the sales page, doing all of that, but really putting together the outline was pretty quick. And I will give, I know you teach people how to make courses too. I went through Amy Porterfield's course cause she was a client, but I really think it's helpful if you have never done it before to go through some sort of training because there was a, there were a lot of things that I had never thought about that were helpful.
I'm sure you probably have your top tips shock when people are creating their first course of, you know. How to figure out what you're promising and what your students really need versus what you think they need. I'm going through all those exercises was really helpful for me.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, absolutely. And it sounds like you had some good mentorship along the way. You are, you'd worked with people that were willing to help you, and then, you know, you took Amy portals Porterfield's course when I got started seven plus years ago, like I had zero clue what I was doing. I would have loved to have had those resources back then. So that's a, that's really cool. Now. Now.
Now tell us where, cause I think a lot of people listening to this are going to be interested in that course. Tell us exactly where we can go to get more information and possibly purchase that course. Yeah.
Autumn Witt Boyd: So if you go to my website, it's my initials, AWB from.com/course that will take you to a free master class. So you can get, you know, a sense of, if you like, the way I teach, it'll go over the, the three legal protections you probably don't realize your course is missing. And then from there you can purchase the course if you're interested.
Jacques Hopkins: AWB from.com/course that's it. All right, very cool. Now, of the people listening to this, who would be a fit, what type of person would be a fit for the course versus. Your services.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. So I think the course is a great fit if you are either newer to online courses or you're maybe, let's say under a hundred thousand in annual revenue. And the reason I say that is because when you get above that six figure Mark, you now have more risk and you are probably, you know, maybe you've quit your day job.
Maybe you've allowed your spouse to quit their day job. You just have a little bit more to protect and so you want to be more cautious and maybe have a team that you're supporting. So you want to really make sure things don't go wrong. I say my job is really to keep people from making expensive mistakes, and so when you're newer in your business or you haven't hit that a hundred K level, your mistakes are less expensive.
And so investing a lot in a one-on-one attorney relationship maybe isn't necessary. Now, I will say with the chorus, I do a monthly Q and a call, so you do get some kind of personal support through that as well. But you know, with a one on one clients, we're able to really customize their legal documents to make sure they're exactly perfect for their business.
Jacques Hopkins: That sounds very similar to the way that, Parker over to evolve finance structures thing. And that's, that's who introduced us. And you know, I had Parker on the, on the podcast, probably 25 episodes prior to your episode. And you know, he, he mentioned the same thing. Like, I don't, I don't want anybody making less than a hundred thousand that come sign up with us.
Like they, first of all, they don't need us. And second of all, you know, they, they could be spending their money elsewhere a better at that point, but very interesting. All the, all the services we can start signing up for once we, once we hit that six figure Mark. Very.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Cool. Then call me. Yeah.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, exactly. All right, so continue with a couple more course creation questions here. What tools are you using? Like where are you hosting your course?
Autumn Witt Boyd: Well, we just made a big shift because we just moved our main website. We actually host the course on a separate domain. It's called online course, legal.com but we just moved our main website to Shopify and we realized we had a lot of things linked between the two domains that then stopped working.
So we have just moved it to Shopify, but we are using a Thinkific integration on our Shopify sites. So it's all brand new and I think we've got it working. So that's been a big transition. Yeah, we were just self hosting on a WordPress site, which was, it was kind of clunky. Anyway, so the Thinkific integration is very nice. So that seems to be working well.
Jacques Hopkins: So you, so you registered this new domain online course legal, like did. So for example, did you trademark that.
Autumn Witt Boyd: I did not. You know, we have, I don't know if you can see behind me, I do have a trademark for the legal roadmap, which is also the name of my podcast. But no, I didn't. There is this thing in trademark law. You may have have heard of it or you may run across it if you decide to register your name, where if something's really descriptive, the trademark office doesn't like to give those trademarks because it prevents other people from just being able to describe what their business sells.
So like piano in 21 days basically says, what the course. Right? Does what you teach now there's a loophole for that. So after you've been using it five years, you can kind of prove that now you're a very well known under that brand. Maybe in five years I'll try, or three and a half, I'll try for online course legal.
Jacques Hopkins: Well, it's sometimes it's better to like see what people are actually doing, rather than the words that they're saying. So, Hey, you're, you're going through the course creation process and all this. It's like, let's, let's see what Autumn's actually doing herself. All right. So one more question for you wearing the course creator hat.
What advice do you have out there? Not necessarily legal, but just in general, what advice do you have out there for people looking to get into and have their own online course.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. The most helpful thing I did when I was creating my course was Amy Porterfield teaches us, and I have a feeling you probably recommend something similar you can give your own spin on it, is doing phone calls with your potential students.
So I actually sent an email out to my email list for my law firm, but I knew I had a lot of people who would be good fits for the course. And I said, Hey, if you'll. W if you'll let me ask you questions. I hate saying, pick your brain if you'll let me ask you questions for 30 minutes, you know, I'll give you 30 minutes of my time.
You can ask me whatever legal questions you have. And that was incredibly helpful. And I scribbled down there all of their words. So as quickly as I could, and I put them in a Google document and I call them my golden course creator words. And you know, it asked about what are their, what are their fears around legal?
What do they think is annoying about legal? What. If they could wave a magic wand, what would they make a better about legal? And I really put a lot of that into packaging up, you know, what needed to be in my course and what did maybe I think needed to be in there that didn't, that nobody really wanted. So that that was the most helpful thing. And I think every course grader should do that on the front end.
Jacques Hopkins: I completely agree. I've done over 500 of those phone calls with, with, with potential piano people. It is one of my top recommendations as well. Now, how different do you think the success of your course would be without having done that? Well, I.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Think the, well, the sales page would look totally different because I am a terrible copywriter. I go into legal mode really quickly. So I used a lot of those words in my copy. And then I think the actual course, the number one thing that, that people kept asking for was they wanted to be able to ask questions.
And so I don't think I would have added that monthly Q and a call as part of the package. I think I would have thought, Oh, I can answer everything in videos. And. You know the worksheets that, Mmm, okay. People do. I mean, I was kind of right when I said, everyone has a special butterfly. Everyone does have a little bit of a unique question. And so having that support as part of the course, I think is a big selling point.
Jacques Hopkins: Very, very cool. All right. Well, you've used, you've used we the pronoun we many times throughout this. Do you have kind of a team of lawyers working with you or when somebody signs up with, with you, they're working with you. I.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Do have a team now. There's one other lawyer and she works mostly on labor and employment issues, so we help a lot of our larger clients who have teams and all kinds of different States, sometimes even internationally, and then we have a support staff of four now.
Jacques Hopkins: Very cool. Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. This has been an absolute pleasure on my side. Thanks so much for coming on a to wrap up. Let us know if there's anything else you want to share with the audience and remind us where we can find you online.
Autumn Witt Boyd: Yeah. If you guys are interested in learning more legal, I have over a hundred episodes of my legal roadmap podcasts. That's my number one resource. All kinds of stuff about contracts, copyright, trademark, and more. So that's in every, you know, pretty much every podcast app, wherever you're listening to this one, you can probably find it. And then if you want to find out more about our firm or our contract templates, that's [email protected]
Jacques Hopkins: Outstanding autumn from AWB from.com. Thanks so much for joining us today. All right, well that's a wrap on the conversation with autumn. Let's bring you back, David, welcome back. Let's, let's talk about this a little bit first. First of all, like overall impressions. What did you think of this conversation?
David Krohse: Well, it was super valuable. I mean, she's obviously a very personable attorney and enjoy learning from her and her tips and advice.
I definitely can see where new course creators would prefer to be the ostrich with the head in the sand. But I mean, that's where her courses would help you focus in on like, yeah, you can be an ostrich about some things, but here's the three or the five things that, Hey, Hey, you got to take your head out of the sand for a little bit and at least get these things.
Jacques Hopkins: Done. Yeah, no doubt. I mean, I have a course on courses, you know, it's, it's basically free. people can, can, can go through that, sign up for that, the online course guy.com and click on the online course accelerator. But inside that course, you know, I, I try to address all the things that a beginner would have to think of.
And there is a little section on legal. But I basically say, I'm not an attorney, right? You can't trust me on this contact an attorney. Right? That's kind of what I say in the course. So if you, if you, if you've gone through the course or you're going through the course, or you're a beginner here, like here's my advice, now go to Autumn's website, right?
That's just human nature. And we can't do that. We can't do that from a legal perspective. So if you're listening to this and you don't have things nailed down and from a legal perspective, do that. Or if you're making six figures from your course, maybe reach out to autumn directly and, and get one of her legal audits. I'm exploring that myself. I think that's important. Yeah.
David Krohse: The other interesting discussion, the concept of fighting disputes, is it worth it in? So this is more in my, I'm a chiropractor in my practice, I'm going to be honest, I've been doing this for essentially 14 years and I've never sent somebody who owed me money to collections.
The personal opinion, my billing manager, she'd come to me and she'd be like, this person owes you $1,200 like you deserve that. You do great care. You did your best for them. And they're not paying. And every single time I would, I would tell her, Sandy, I said, Sandy, if I send them to collections, they get mad and they decide to become the worst troll ever.
How much would I pay them to like take down every bad thing they've said about me online? And I'm like, in every situation it's been more, I would pay them more money to take down any kind of slander. Then I w then they owe me. And so I do have this respect that if somebody is not paying you, if they're screwing you over, by definition, they're a scumbag.
And so is it worth it to essentially try to win a battle but then lose the war? I mean, like I just think about what's the worst if you, if you really create a super troll, how far can they take it? I mean, this has kind of a back in one of the political elections, Rick Santorum. Somebody decided to go, like just monster troll on him, and you can search his name, Santorum and you can see what they did, but they have the top spot when you Google him. Still to this day. So I mean, if you create a super troll. Oh my gosh, they have so much power. So I don't know. What are your thoughts?
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah, that's, that's a good point man. Cause I think there's some scarcity mindset there too, when you try to, you know, fight every battle and all that. You know, I had somebody recently just in the past week who requested a refund from me on like day 33 or something.
I'm at 30 day refund policy and. You know, at first I was like, well no, we've got to draw this line in the sand, right? Cause I can't just allow people to request refunds any time. But at the same time, what you're like what you're saying, you don't want to create this, you know, bad will with people and you never know what somebody is capable of or what they might do.
And at the end of the day, it's not, it's not that big of a deal for me. It's making. You know, plenty of money. I don't, I don't need that extra 300 or $500 or whatever that person, a package, that person that signed up for. So, you know, I talked it over with my assistant, Emily, and we both decided it's, let's just refund her.
It's, it's not, it's just not that big of a deal. And so I'm more and more. I am, I am picking and choosing the battles that I want to fight. And if it's just, you know, a lot of times, at the end of the day, it's just not worth it. It's not worth my time and resources to worry about it.
David Krohse: Well, and with that 33 day one, you asked the question like, is she going to get on your Facebook forum and tell everybody, Hey, jock honors a refund at any point so you can screw him over too.
It's like, no, that's not likely. But Hey, I did see, I think you saw posted in our Facebook community group. That you did actually win a dispute. So what was the story with.
Jacques Hopkins: That one? Oh, I just posted that for a little bit of fun because there's most course graders will understand most course creators that have had a lot of sales understand that it's very hard to win actual disputes.
But I think what that one was is. I had this student a couple of months ago who she, she signed up for my course and then then like pretty pretty soon after that got divorced and she had like a really bad relationship. And so her husband just like canceled all of our accounts and and marked everything fraudulent.
And so. It was, it was basically marked, marked as a dispute by mistake because of her bad relationship with her husband. And she was very apologetic about it and said she was going to fix it. And I think she got with her bank and fixed it and that's why the quote unquote dispute was resolved in my favor.
So there's not really anything I did on my side at all, but I just, I posted that to the group just to get a kind of a laugh, like, Hey, look, you know, you can win disputes.
David Krohse: That's I, I think a bunch of people were like, Oh, Jack has the play on to get these resolved.
Jacques Hopkins: No, no, no. There's nothing. Nothing I could do. But I look back at my Stripe account and like literally. Five or six disputes ever, you know? So it's just, it's not that many. I haven't, you know, knock on wood, but I don't think I've had any this year so far. Maybe one. So in the grand scheme of things, it's just, it's not worth fighting from my perspective.
So I don't ask people for their address or their phone number. Like literally I asked for the bare minimum, your email, your name. Your credit card information, right. Just, I just have always felt like the less stuff they had to do, the higher the conversion rate. That's just in my head. So that's why I don't really have a check this box here. but it sounds like I need to add that. So I think that's, that's, that's all my to do list tad.
David Krohse: Although you did say that, like people that do the payment plan get this like clear email that outlines the payment plan afterwards. I mean in a way that can do the same thing because as long as they get that within the, within the refund period, I mean that's, cause I agree. I mean everything out there says like don't create friction. Don't create friction in your sales process. So I mean, that could to one extent or another cover you without creating friction.
David Krohse: Well. I mean, I didn't mean that in any disrespect. It's, Oh no, but it's, yeah, but it's sales versus a, the risk.
Jacques Hopkins: I mean, yeah.
David Krohse: Cause the risk here, I mean, the real risk is just, I mean, I think you have minimal risk. No one's gonna claim that, you know, you caused them to have a heart attack by playing piano.
Jacques Hopkins: Right. So yeah, that's, no, that's a good point. That's a good point. Well, you got to, in anything, we do have to weigh the pros and cons, and I think in general it's a good idea. It sounds like. It sounds like a good idea. And you know, like anything we can split test it, you know, I can split test in order for them that's got the check box versus not. And see if there's this significant decrease in conversions. And I doubt there.
David Krohse: Would be no, I don't think there would be either.
Jacques Hopkins: Yeah. Alright. Anything else, man? Any other takeaways on your side?
David Krohse: I mean, I, I hadn't considered doing copyright. I mean, I was very familiar with like getting a trademark just because of work. My work with my, my business, we got a trademark actually for my wife's skincare business, granola face skincare. She wanted to have that as her own, and I had a story, my employee up for a while, she had a cake pop business and her first name, she had stepped on somebody else's trademark. Got a cease and desist from this lady in LA, LA.
And so then when she started her, she had to rebrand her business as urban sugar. And she actually went through the trademark process and this donut cookie doughnut company, a doughnut food truck out in Maine, they started using the urban sugar name. And so eventually they reached out to her and they said, Hey, you know, we can we actually buy the urban sugar name.
We want to take our brand to a bigger place. She didn't want to give it up. And then they, they, she was like, well, now you guys need to stop using it. And they didn't. And so she actually had to call in a lawyer. And so it was good that she had gone through that trademark process. But the concept of doing copyright for the actual content, I wasn't familiar with that at all. So something to consider.
Jacques Hopkins: I don't know, man. I don't know. I think I'm going to have some more conversations with autumn and her team about just, just kind of the best practices for a course at my level, right? I think I'm to a point with piano in 21 days where I could use that just one on one consultation because every business is different.
So we'll see. Like I'm a big fan of just taking guidance from, from smart people in their particular area. So I think I am going to get some one-on-one guidance and we'll see where it goes.
David Krohse: Yeah. The other thing, I mean, my biggest, I mean, the biggest thing that I try to do in my own life from a legal perspective is just to treat every person the right way.
I mean, to try to be, yeah. If somebody asked for money back and it's within reason, or even if it's not within reason, like I say, if the, if it's not within reason, then they're are by definition not a reasonable person. Yeah, and so I respect that. There was kind of a funny story, the coolest gift that I ever did for an employee.
It was kind of a neat thing, but I had this lady that worked for me for a couple years, and chiropractors, periodically we'll do something called a patient appreciation day where it's like a free treatment for any of our active patient base. And so I decided, this lady that worked for me, Sherry, really appreciated her.
But I came up with this idea where I sent an email out without her knowledge. I sent a postcard out and the idea was that on Sherry's birthday, anybody that gave her a $20 $20 more gift would receive a free treatment for me from me, like an IOU. And I got all this out there without any of her, without her knowing it all.
And I said, here are her favorite types of wine. She loves stuff for her dogs. If nothing else, send her $20 to target. And so she came in that day. And seriously, our patients loved it. Ultimately, she probably walked away with like $700 of like just bottles of wine. Somebody, somebody that, we had this person that worked in an embroidery shop and they embroidered her dog's name on a blanket and a collar and a D in a hat, and like they just have so much fun.
I was like, it was just the best day ever in such a fun way to be generous. So flash forward like two and a half months, and I opened the letter, I get them the letter in the mail, and it's from the Iowa board of chiropractors, and they're like, somebody turned you in for improper marketing. It was essentially a warning, and it said that essentially I had violated doctor, patient professionalism because I was asking my patients to get, get, get my employee a gift.
And then there was something about this opportunity to come as the new patient that they didn't like as well. But. The biggest thing, like, I mean, it just, it just freaked me out because somebody turned me in. And I don't know if that was another chiropractor, a patient who was dissatisfied with some portion of my care, but it really was like, it was such a surprise because again, like the whole way that I've run my business the whole way that I'd run my course is like, you know, trying to be generous, trying to help people.
And then again, if somebody, if somebody has any signs that they're unreasonable, I respect that unreasonableness. And I'm just like, all right, whatever we need to get you out of my life. So I, that was a weird story, but again, the take home message there is that, you know, try to live your life in a way where you never create enemies.
And certainly, you know, we didn't really mention this, but employees can end up stabbing you in the back too if they leave on bad terms. And so respecting your employees and trying to always, always be respectful to them as well.
Jacques Hopkins: You know, you used the word scumbag earlier and you know how you know how, I know that person was kind of a scumbag. It's because they went to some entity and not to you directly, right? If they had a problem with what you were doing, like the first person they should reach out to. Is you and be like, look, David, like, or dr Crosy, like, I don't know that I agree with the way that you, you, you did this, like, can we talk about it? No, they didn't do that. They didn't take the mature approach. They submit, you know, they, they tattled on you basically.
David Krohse: So yeah. So just, yeah, try to try to treat people right and respect unreasonable people. That's, that's my top words of warning. Love.
Jacques Hopkins: It. Well, that's, that sounds like a great wisdom to kind of wrap up on David. So thanks so much for joining me here today for another episode of the online core show. This was a fun one, man. Appreciate it very much, and thanks to everyone out there for listening and to autumn for joining me on the kind of the main content that the conversation in the middle of this episode. And for those of you guys listening out there, you can find all the notes and links from today's episode.
By going to the online course, guy.com/one 34 and there are plenty more resources there at the online course, guy.com for your journey with online courses, whether you're a beginner or you have a course already and are looking to improve it and scale up and treat your students better like I've been doing, trying to do more and more of lately.
So that's going to do it for this episode. Thanks again everyone, and we'll talk next week.