One of the big reasons I always wanted to start my own online business was to allow my family more freedom to travel and see the world. Right now we’re on the road for a 5-week trip, but that doesn’t mean that things aren’t still humming along for my business! I’m still checking in with my team, sales are still coming in, and I still have a whole lot of thoughts that may be helpful no matter where you are on your online course journey. 😉

“The allure of passive income is great… but it’s very rare where you’ve got that situation and don’t have to do some regular maintenance.”

– Jacques Hopkins

I’m excited to share my thoughts on this short-and-sweet solo episode, so I hope you like what you hear!

In This Episode, We Talked About:

  • (0:42) Why this episode is different (and an audio quality disclaimer)
  • (1:22) The reason I always wanted to have my own online business
  • (2:31) How I engage with new students on a personal level – and why
  • (7:17) Staying on top of things while traveling across multiple states
  • (8:39) Thoughts on “courses about courses” vs courses in other niches
  • (12:29) A potential disadvantage to the way I do things
  • (14:38) Thinking about being proactive both in life and in business
  • (23:02) The importance of regularly checking in with your system
  • (24:32) Wrapping up

That’s all for now, folks! See you on the next episode of the “out of office” version of my The Online Course Show.

139: Week 2 of 5 - Running an Online Course Business from the Road

Jacques Hopkins: And off we go. Welcome aboard. Glad you're with us. This is the online course show. I'm your host, Jacques Hopkins. And I'm excited to dive into all things online courses with you today. If this is your first time listening. Well, you caught me at an interesting time with the podcast because this podcast and last week's podcast and the next three as well are not like our normal episodes. They are not highly produced and they are on, I'm recording them on my phone actually, and not my nice professional podcasting microphone in my home studio back home. And that's because I'm on the road right now with my family. And I am just kind of chronicling. That's a funny word there.

I hope I said it right. Chronical-ling running an online course business from the road. We are on a five week family road trip. And this is something that things like this are the reason that I always wanted to run my own online business. And one thing I love about online course, businesses so much is to be able to do stuff like this.

One of the first things that we did after I quit my job four and a half years ago was, we had a 10 month old baby and we moved to France for three months. We did it kind of as a test to see if we'd want to live there longer than that. And we decided that we want to visit as often as possible, but that it was just a little too far away from friends and family.

So we came back home after that, but we travel a lot. And this is a good little sample of a trip for us. And I want to share with you how I'm running my business and things that come up as we go on this trip. So if you are new to the podcast or you didn't hear last week's episode, which was week one of five of running an online course business from the road, then check that out.

Maybe pause this and go back to that. So you can get up to date these episodes, aren't going to be super, super long because I'm trying not to work very much during this vacation, but I love my work so, so much now it's hard for me to completely unplugged, completely stepped away. And like I said, in the last episode, there's a few things that I'm trying to do each and every day.

So they don't get behind on things. The first thing I do every single day, is do my Bonjor's. Now a lot of you are probably very familiar with Bonjoro at this point, but some of you may be are not. And that is the tool that I use to quickly and easily. Thank my new students when they sign up for my online piano course.

And I'll retell the story because it's probably been awhile, but it was probably three or so years ago when I was first starting this podcast. And as you can imagine, I'm a pretty big fan of online courses, both my own and taking other people's online courses as a way to just learn things and gain new skills.

And so when I was looking to start a podcast, I was looking for a very good online course on successfully starting and running and marketing and all that a podcast. And so I turned to Pat Flynn, who I'm a big fan of and have been following forever, probably 10 years on this journey. And he had recently released his new podcasting course.

It was called Power up podcasting. And I think at the time it was $697. So, I signed up, I think I was one of the first people that had signed up way back then. And within about two or three hours of signing up, I was completely blown away because in my inbox I had a message that said the subject was like, Hey, jock, you know, Pat here, I recorded this message for you.

I'm like, what? Surely this is some, you know, mass video that he sent out and I click it open and there's a thumbnail and I click the thumbnail and all of a sudden. There's a short video that comes up probably 30 seconds long. And it's, PatFlynn saying, Hey, Jacques, just wanted to welcome you to the core.

So excited to have you in Power up podcasting, just really looking forward to working with you inside the course, you know, a message kind of like that. And I was like, wow. He said Jacques and it's not like, my name is, you know, Matthew or John. Or Mark something that could easily be a mass send out to, you know, the popular names.

He actually said Jacques, and he actually said it pronounced it correctly. And I was just so blown away back then that Pat Flynn would take the time out of his day to send me a personal video. And I immediately thought, well, Pat, Flynn's doing this then why am I not doing this for my piano students? And so from that day, that's the day that I started sending Bonjoro's

And at this point I've sitting nearly 4,000 of those Bonjoro's in the past three years. And it's very important part of my process. Very important part of my day. And so every day I log into my Bonjoro app and I can see there automatically, whoever has signed up for my course within the past 24 hours, is there, I can just click their name and then record them a short message.

And it's super easy, especially on the road, like what I'm doing now. And I just love it so, so much. And, you know, what keeps this brand going this Online Course Guy brand, the Online Course Show and all that, you know, most of what I offer on nearly everything that I offer is free, but I very much rely on affiliate income.

And so I like to recommend the tools that I personally am using in a lot of cases, I've been using the tools for my online course for years, like Bonjoro . And you guys, when you appreciate the recommendation and feel like it could bring value to you, you and your business as well. In a lot of cases, you sign up for those links through those services, through my affiliate links.

And I can't thank you enough for that because it's just the ultimate win, win. When I can put a lot of free content out there and you guys support me by signing up for services that are going to help you. And then I get a kickback from that. So. Uh, I do have an affiliate link for Bonjoro and it is, uh, it's, it's pretty official actually.

It's on the Bonjoro website. I know those guys pretty well now, and it's just Bonjoro.com/Jacques. So B O N J O R O dot com/ J A C Q U E S. If you want to get started with a free trial of Bonjoro and try it out for yourself, if you're a course creator already, well, try thanking your new  customers, your new students.

Like I. Do and like PatFlynn did, I don't know if he's still doing it or not. And a lot of course creators are doing it. And the feedback that I get is just amazing. People are blown away that I would take the time out of my day to personally thank them and welcome them. And I want to bring that level of satisfaction and joy into the, into my new student's life and really set this relationship up on the right foot.

And I hope that you'll do the same, or if you're just more getting started, maybe you're just starting your email list. Well, if you're just getting a couple of new email addresses a day on your email list, You can personally thank those people, even though they haven't bought anything from you, even though they haven't, they really haven't done anything to really support you or pay you money in any way.

That's okay. You're just getting started. And what a great way to really start building your tribe is to personally thank them and welcome them to your world and to your email list. So consider that as well. Once again, you can start a free trial by going to Bonjoro.com/Jacques. So that's one thing I do every day.

Another thing I do each day is just kind of check in on Slack and see if my team needs anything and see if there's anything I need to address. Most of the time there's not really, maybe once every couple of days or once every three days there is something for me to address. And there was actually something a couple of days ago that I needed to address.

That was very interesting. And I'll tell you about that story here in a couple of minutes, it had to do with deadline funnel and maybe some old links that I had going on in my evergreen funnel for my piano course. So that's kinda what I do every day. Kind of a recap of, of where, uh, what we're up to and why I'm doing these, you know, five weeks of episodes on this podcast.

And so we've mostly been kind of at the beach, lots of relaxation. So yeah, so far, and by the way, if you're not familiar with my story too much, I am married and I've got two little girls. They are almost five and three. Their birthdays are at the end of the summer. So they are pushing right up on five and three.

So we've got a young family. It's been a lot, a lot of fun so far, and yeah, by the time that we talk next time on the podcast for week three, I will have been through a Waco, Texas, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and I'll likely be in Zion national park the next time that I'm coming at you on this podcast. So very much looking forward to that.

That's kind of, what's coming up for us in the next few days. Now, just a couple more little thoughts I want to share with you in this episode. I briefly mentioned this last week, but I've just really been thinking a lot about kind of the other people in this space. The other people that are giving advice on online courses, there's a lot of people out there now, and I'm on a lot of their email lists because I just want to kind of stay plugged in and see what they're doing, but also try to learn from them as well.

I don't know everything about online courses. I don't think anybody knows everything about online courses and it's hard to, because it's such a, it can vary so much from niche to niche, right? Something that works in my online piano course business might not work in your online haircutting course business or your online poetry course business.

And so a lot of times I provide multiple options for you to try. You know, the name of the game really is trying things. And so I'm, always learning myself well, and that's one reason that I enjoy interviewing other successful course creators on this podcast so much. It's been a few episodes since I've done that.

But if you look back through the archives, there's, you know, well, over a hundred of those types of episodes where I'm interviewing somebody else. And just about any niche you could possibly think of, but I've just been thinking about this lately. Like a lot of the course let's call them course, coaches let's call them online course coaches are sharing what, they're sharing experiments that they do and numbers from their business, but more often than not, it's from their online course coaching business and their "online course" course, which is fine. And I'm gonna explain to you why that could be a bad thing, but also why it could be a better thing than what I'm doing too.

So it kind of goes both ways. So the reason it can be a bad thing is because it gives you a pretty false impression in a lot of cases, I think  sharing numbers, sharing results from experiments in an online course business that you can't really apply that, especially in non moneymaking niches.

Right? And I think a lot of people that listen to this podcast and follow my stuff are in non moneymaking, non-business opportunity niches. You know, I just mentioned a couple of examples you know, teaching people to cut hair, to write poetry, to play guitar, play piano, all kinds of different niches.

And a lot of times. It's not a money making opportunity, right? I'm not teaching people to make money when I'm teaching them to play piano in any way, shape or form. But if you teach people to create an online course, that's teaching people how to start an actual business. And so I was, like I said, I'm on a lot of online course coaches, email lists. And I got an email yesterday from one of them talking about how they recently sold over $10 million of their online course. And I'm doing a webinar and showing you some of the secrets behind that, which is cool. And I, in a very much respect this person and what they've done, and they have a lot of great information, a lot of great, valuable testimonials out there.

And I'm not trying to discredit them, but they're talking about, Hey, I made an online course that does this. And you know, you can do this amount to type of thing when they're in their course is a course on courses. Like it's just, it's so meta. Whereas my promise to you guys is that the numbers I share with you and the experiments I do are within my online piano course. Right. And you can't really get any less money making opportunity than that. I'm telling you people, they typically don't have a lot of money. It's a struggle to get them to pay. Yeah. And that's one reason, you know, you've gotta be so dialed in with your marketing.

You've got to. You've got to really be good with the marketing and kind of enjoy the marketing to be successful here because you've got to really be good at conveying value, nonmonetarily. You've got like for me, now my most popular package is $497 for my piano course. I've got a really, really, really do a good job of conveying to people how they're going to get at least $497 with a value to their life.

If they go through my program. And if they, you know, get the results that I'm promising within my program, but I'll tell you, I'll be completely experienced with you. One thing I've been thinking about is the disadvantage to the way that I'm doing it is that I'm more split. Right? So for example, this person that I was referring to only has one online course, they have a course on courses. And so they're so focused on that course on courses, getting results in that, and then sharing the results with people. And then it's just like a big, um, it's just a big cyclical, you know, a feedback loop because then they share the results from the course on courses and that gets more people wanting to join the course on courses. Right. Whereas for me, my focus is split. Actually, you guys listening to this, you're not my top priority. My top priority is my piano students. I'm back to spending most of my time on piano in 21 days and making that the best, you know, top piano learning resource, especially for beginners on the planet, on the internet and I'm well, on my way, it's, it's, there's a lot of brand recognition.

They're very good. Um, Google, organic presence, a lot of people know the brand piano in 21 days, good YouTube presence. But it still could be bigger and better. And we recently crossed over 5,000 students, but there's no reason there can't be 50,000. The students in there, and the feedback is very positive.

And because I know it works because I know people are successful when they put in the work and go through it. I want to get it in as many people's hands as possible. And so my focus is over there as well, but I just love, love, love geeking out on online courses and talking to other people in the space.

So that's why I created this brand and this podcast. And I don't plan on stopping this either. So my time is split. And so I can't dedicate all of my time to the online course coaching business. Like these other people can't. So that's kind of the pros and cons of both sides. And I just wanted you guys to understand that because it's likely that you're following other people, maybe you're on this person's email list as well that I was referring to.

And so I think it's good to get multiple perspectives. And if you are, if you do have an online course or you're thinking about putting together an online course, and you're trying to follow gurus and mentors and whatnot, I think it's good to get different perspectives and follow different people. And if you consider me one of those, then, then I'm truly honored.

So. Thanks so much for being here. Um, now let me, while we close the books on June, and if you've been following the podcast the past few months, you know that with the pandemic, my business really exploded, really exploded. It was doing very well before that. In fact, before the pandemic, I had a couple like three months in a row where I had done the best numbers ever in my business and kind of number of sales and revenue and all that.

But then the pandemic hit and like those numbers that were so great, like doubled in maybe even more so in April and may, both of those months were six figure months in piano course sales in revenue. So June came a little back down to earth a little bit more. So we closed the books on June here and about 75 K in core sales that's revenue.

So I do have expenses associated with that as well. So getting back down to a little more reasonable numbers, not those outlandish crazy, like what is happening? Um, amazing numbers. So that's, that's what the numbers for June look like. And now let me tell you a little story that happened recently. So we are at the beach, we're standing a little condo.

In Florida last week and my wife one evening goes to the store after the kids go to bed. Cause we need a few things and she, she brought her mask. We're very careful about that stuff. And when she got back, she comes to me, she's like, Hey, um, I think our car is like steaming out of the hood. You might want to go take a look at it.

And so I went down and took a look at it. And sure enough, there was a little bit of steam coming out of the hood. I am far from a mechanic. Maybe I need to take an online course on engines or something, but I opened the hood and I just, you know, it was definitely very, very hot and there was a little bit of steam coming out, nothing blatantly wrong that I could tell, but I knew that we would have to get it checked out and looked at and we were leaving this location. In a couple of days, so I really need to have confidence in my car. So I really wanted somebody who knew what they were doing to look at it. So the next morning I started calling a couple of places and the two closest places to where we were, uh, weren't taking new customers.

They're like, we're busy. We're not taking any new customers right now. Sorry. And, uh, and so finally I got in touch with some really, really helpful people. Their place was about 30 minutes away from where I was, but they were so helpful. The guy talked me through a couple of things on the phone. Uh, Oh, and by the way that morning I realized, I was like, Oh man, it's been a while since I got an oil change in this car, and this is totally not like me to let it slip, but we were actually 3000 miles past due on an oil change.

So I'll get to that in a second. And so the guys kind of walking me through a few things, he's like, you know, it could be this, it could be this he's like, I think you'd be okay to just drive real slow over here. So why don't you come on and we'll, uh, we'll get you taken care of. And so. I started driving and I go, I'm going very slow.

I kind of take the scenic route so that I'm not on a highway or anything. And so I never really go above like 30, 35 miles an hour and about halfway. So it's 30 minutes to this auto repair shop and about 15 minutes in. And I'm driving down the road and I get a sensor light morning on my dashboard and it said something like stabilitrak sensor off or something.

I'm like, huh, that's weird. But that didn't sound like it was related to like steam or a hot engine. But within about two seconds later, I got another alarm of some sort. And then about a second and a half for that, I got another alarm and then another alarm. And within the course of about. 12 seconds. I had about 14 different alarms and sensors and the last couple being, you know, engine overheating, uh, reducing power, you know, engine shutting down all this stuff.

And so I immediately pull over to the side of the road and turn off the engine and get out. And there's just all this steam coming out of the hood and I'm like, Oh my God, I thought I just killed my car, trying to go get it fixed. But, you know, I knew what I had to do. Uh, I just kind of stepped away from the car.

And I immediately called the place that I was heading towards. I was like, look, can't make it. Do you have a tow truck, a service that you recommend? They gave me a phone number for that had the tow truck lined up. Then I called my wife to tell her what happened and we arranged to, um, to get a ride and stuff like that.

And so they towed the car and brought it in. And within about a day they had it all fixed and it wasn't too bad. It was a heater pump and a couple of other things and obviously an oil change as well. But my point in telling you this story  is that I have had not done proper maintenance. A 3000 miles, it was past due on an oil change, right.

We buy a car, we use a car and you can't just drive it for hundreds of thousands of miles without putting gas in it without getting oil changes, without getting checkups, without changing transmission fluid and changing tires and, and doing all these things. And. You know, the allure of passive income is so great, like making money while you sleep, being able to go on five week trips and not really do a whole lot.

It's really great, but it's very, very rare where you've got that situation and don't have to do some regular maintenance and the same exact day. And by the way, I don't think it was me not getting an oil change that caused all these issues. What I do think is that if I would have gotten an oil change at the right time when I was supposed to, my regular mechanic might have seen, Oh, your heater pump  is going out let's change that. And so I think that's one of the advantages of a regular maintenance is getting somebody under the hood to look at it and make sure nothing's breaking or about to break. And so tying this back to online courses, the exact same day, that all this happened to me that afternoon. I got several emails.

My assistant Emily was like, look, people are complaining that can't get to the enrollment page. Like it's taken to them. It's taking them to a server error. I'm like, Oh gosh, just what I need today. And so I log into my system and sure enough, every enrollment link that I click on just says like deadline, funnel, server error.

And by the way, guys, I love deadline funnel. Like I mentioned, Bonjoro earlier and Deadline funnel is one of my favorite tools and I've been using it since 2016. So I've been using it for four years now. And I know that because my campaign in deadline funnel has a date in it and it's got 2016 in there.

It's like 11 something, 2016. And their support has always been phenomenal. I love Deadline funnel and I still do, but something was not working on that day with Deadline funnel. And as it turns out what happened is my links that I've been using in my emails from Deadline funnel, we're just too old.

They were just too old. So I've been using the exact same links for four years. And I remember the creator, the owner, top guy at deadline funnel, Jack Born. He's been on the podcast before he sent on an email a couple of months ago saying, Hey guys, you know, just want to let y'all know,  we kind of updated some of the technology in the links.

Uh, we highly recommend you go ahead and update all your legs. It's going to allow you. It's going to be faster. It's going to be this. It's gonna be this. We're going to be this. And so ever since seeing that email, I was like, Oh, cool. That sounds great. And I put it on my list, you know, update Deadline funnel links, but ever since then, it's been on the back burner.

And unfortunately they just stopped working on that day, last week, same day that my car stopped working as well. If I would have been a little more proactive, like with my car, then this would never would have been an issue. And I likely lost out on some sales probably, um, from this. And I also had to stop family time and fix this issue.

And I got on with support and they were very helpful. Um, but they were like, look, you know, to be honest with you, we're going to have our engineering team. It caught them off guard as well. And maybe nobody that uses Deadline funnel has links that are as old, old as mine. They were like, look, we're going to look into it.

We're going to take this store engineering team and figure out why your old things are not working. But I gotta be honest with you. The quickest way to resolve this might be to just update to the new links. So I was like, okay, that's fine. So I was like, babe, I just got, go take care of this. I'm not sure how long it's going to take.

So I kind of went in another room, separate from my family and just tried to focus and update all the links. And as it turns out, it only took about 15 minutes. So it's something that I'd been putting off for two or three months, ended up only taking me 15 minutes and now I've got all new links. In fact, I've updated all the web hooks and HTML timers and everything that deadline funnel has to offer.

I updated everything for the first time in like four years, and now everything's back up and running better than ever. And so just an overall reminder that we do have to do regular checks on our things. We have to do regular checks on our funnels and our emails and our links and our videos. Just make sure everything is working properly every so often go through your, your system and make sure everything or hire somebody to do that.

You know, I don't do all the oil changes and mechanical work on my car myself. I hire somebody to do that. And so feel free to do that as well. Just a reminder, that things do break. Things do get updated to where you need to update them on your side. And I learned that lesson the hard way last week with both my car and with Deadline funnel.

But my car is back up and running my funnel and deadline funnel stuff is back up and running and that's good to go. And I'm still a huge believer in deadline funnel. It is the GoTo software for doing deadline and evergreen funnels and deadlines the right way, the ethical way and so on. And for listeners of this podcast, you can get a double free trial.

So I think the normal trial is 14 days, but if you go to Deadlinefunnel.com/OCG, which stands for online course guy deadline, funnel.com/ocg, then you can get a 28 day free trial. And I think somebody messaged me the other day about how great that free trial was, but not only that, but the person told me that.

You can get a special deal if you want to sign up after the 28 days as well. So that's really cool. That's I didn't know that they were doing that for you guys as well. So if you have a course and you're not using deadline funnel, I highly encourage you to check it out and keep your links up to date as well.

So that is going to do it guys. I hope you have enjoyed another. Episode of the online course show. If you are new here, then our normal episodes are, like I said, more highly produced, not just recorded on my phone, actually normally have a, a cohost Dr. David Khrose, who is so much fun to interact with and have on the podcast, but he's not here with us on our family road trip.

And so I invite you to head back and listen to some previous episodes. Uh, if you're new here and we will get back to normal stuff after these five weeks, for sure. So thanks so much for listening. You can find all the links and show notes from today's episode, by going to theonlinecourse guy.com/139.

And if you're interested in how I can help you further with your online course business, then head over to the onlinecourseguy.com. And over there, I've got two programs for you. If you're a complete beginner, then you've got the online course accelerator. And if you head to the online courseguy.com and click on online course accelerator at the top, you will find out how you can get that for free.

And if you have a course already, Then I've got a separate program for you called next level courses, which will help you take your course to the next level. It's going to really help you systemize things. It's going to help you with outsourcing and automation and scaling and freeing up your time. And it's going to be all my best tips and practices from running my successful online piano course business for seven years.

So, um, if you have a course already,  then that's a really great resource as well. And I've kind of relaunched it here lately. And I've been getting a lot, a lot of great feedback from those index level courses as well. And I hope to play some kind of feedback and testimonials from those people in the, on the podcast, in a future episode.

So you can hear a little more about that. So you can find out more about that at theonlinecourseguy.com. And there's also a, um, a workshop there, free workshop that gives you that goes into great detail about these two programs and some, some kind of exclusive training. So you can find that there as well. So just about everything I do there at theonlinecourseguy.com is free.

And like I said earlier, it's mostly, the brand is mostly reliant on affiliate link. So you'll find a tools link there as well. All my top 10 favorite tools that I use as a course grader in my own online course business. And if you get any value out of this podcast, And you find any of those tools potentially valuable?

I would sincerely appreciate using my link as well before I get out of here. I've got to, since we're already talking about tools, I got to mention one of my top, top, top favorite tools and that is ClickFunnels. And if you sign up for click funnels, you're going to get all kinds of cool stuff from me, all my templates, some really great trainings.

So you can find it out more about that at theonlinecourseguy.com as well. That's going to do it back to family time guys, and we'll be back next week for week three of running an online course business from the road.