I see a lot of people getting stuck when it comes to choosing the right tools for creating their online course. This can become the sticking point that you never get past, the thing that stops you from creating your content and launching your course. The paralysing indecision of finding the perfect tool could be stopping you from creating your lifestyle business. It might be that you’re stuck on which membership site or plugin to use to deliver your content. Maybe you’re not sure which email service to use to build your list and deliver your infinite wisdom. So many choices right?
You have to start somewhere, so just start
The answer is actually pretty easy. Just pick one. Any one. Just pick one and get started! Many pro’s in the online world will say that you must have this or you can’t launch without that… I launched with a wordpress website (I added a password to the page, super low tech…) and an Aweber account that I rarely used. I didn’t have a payment processor, I didn’t have a fancy membership plugin, my branding sucked (as you can see below) I didn’t use pricey tools at all. I used what I had and still made $12k in sales.
This is one of my original opt in forms. It's ugly, the branding is hideous and the name of the lead magnet didn't resonate with my target market at all!
Every spare cent at the time was going towards caring from my mum (she battled breast cancer for a year and half, sadly she passed away). The old proverb “necessity is the mother of invention” says it all. I wanted to move my business online, I had limited money to spend and very little time to faff about. In hindsight if I had a few bucks in the bank to throw at my first online course I can almost guarantee I would have wasted time finding the “right” tools.
Things have changed since I first launched, buyers are expecting a little more polish and sparkle. You can acheive polish and sparkle with most tools available, you just have to pick which ones!
You can “Up-level” in the future
I am only now upleveling to better systems for my online business. Until now I have made do with what I started out with for my membership site software and my emailing program. I have been frustrated when I couldn’t do some of the fancier things others were doing but hey… I was also making money every month. Worrying about the tools everyone else had and waiting for the day that I could afford them would have resulted in wasted time and wasted money (all those sales I would have missed out on!).
You can see the the change in my old site vs my new below. I would have loved to have started with the new but I didn’t have the tech knowledge (it comes with experience, experience comes with time..), or the money to fund someone else to create my dream. I made a LOT of money from that first site. So glad I didn’t wait until I could figure out the prettier version.
The best way to decide is to try
A great lesson that I want to share with you is that until you try something it is near impossible to figure out what you really need. A lot of tools you are comparing will have functions that you won’t utilise yet. You might never need them. You need to experiment with tools for a bit to see how they fit with what you’re trying to achieve.
Pick the tools you think will work then focus on making them work. Test them out, use them to their full capacity and get your course selling. Once you’re selling to members you can then decide what extra functions or features would be useful.
More expensive does not always equal better
I was blown away to hear what some women in the online course world spend each month on tools. My online ladies and I talk at length about what we use, what works and what doesn’t. It has been interesting to hear that many have expensive tools that are so complex they either can’t use them (so they have to pay contractors to do stuff like set up email campaigns and sales pages) or use only a small percentage of the tools capability. They are paying for advanced stuff they don’t use.
Don’t be swayed into thinking that you need to pay big bucks for the best. If you only need widget A why pay for widget A + B + C? Often people who sell courses about creating online courses (and other stuff too) will focus on particular tools. That is the tool they use, it is the only one they know how to use so they suggest you MUST have that tool too. Make sure you do a little research yourself.
Do what is right for you!
I have always been really open about my Create Your First Online Course sales being much less than competitors. I do around $4K per month in sales from this course. I don’t really push it too hard. It is 95% automated using simple cost effective tools. I check into my Facebook group regularly, I write emails like this (which take about 2 hours each week) and I check in on my Facebook ads (maybe an hour a week).
I have an uncomplicated system with no outsourcing, very few tools and a nice steady income. I could outsource, I could upgrade to fancier tools, I could spend more, but would the actual profit be any different? Who knows? The level of stress and pressure would be for sure! I would be focused on selling more to make sure I could pay everyone. Instead I get to focus on what I love, sharing how I have created my online business and the lessons I learn along the way.
I choose a happy life over money (that was a lesson I learned the hard way..) For now this suits me perfectly. An extra revenue source (my main revenue comes from my small business products like The Profit Lovers Members Club and coaching) with very little stress or pressure. You might want to bring out all the big guns and aim straight for the multiple six figures, if you do I say GO FOR IT! If you want to outsource then do it! Choose what is right for you and your goals.
Ok, so now let me give you a quick run through of my new tools:
Primary URL (I changed from melaniemiller.net.au to theprofitlovers.com). It isn’t actually a tool change but I did spend over a year “thinking” about it. It took less than an hour to sort it out. Let me just say that again… 1 year worrying about it, 1 hour to change it.
New Membership Site - Rainmaker Platform to WordPress + Membermouse + Thrive Themes
I loved Rainmaker Platform and still suggest it to others getting started. I had outgrown what I needed it to do so I moved to MemberMouse + WordPress + Thrive Themes.
Yes, this was a big job but I am glad I didn’t wait until I had the knowledge to get started. I would have missed out on thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in sales. It took around a month (I am kind of guessing as I was working on other stuff too) to move over to the new site. I ran into a few issues because I didn’t read instructions correctly (you should see me put flat pack furniture together…) so I wasted a bit of time.
New Email Platform - Aweber to Active Campaign
I am moved from Aweber to Active Campaign. I was ready for fancier automation and a few more bells and whistles. When I first started out everyone was using a program called Infusionsoft. I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t have the tech skills to make it work. I felt like a hard done by kid. I wanted that toy that everyone else had so bad! I am so glad I just got on with business and used what I could afford. There are new systems now that are 10 times easier to use and so much more budget friendly. In hindsight it would have been a costly mistake.
New Landing Page/Opt In Plugins - Leadpages to Thrive Themes
LeadPages is the bomb. It was the reason so many of my programs have sold well, it took the guesswork out of creating landing pages, sales pages etc… Fast, easy to use and full of awesome templates. I don’t need that anymore, I now know what works for me so I use Thrive Landing Pages instead.
Moving from Lead Pages to Thrive felt like it was going to be a massive job. It wasn’t. It took about a day to move all my “stuff” over. I had in total 40 pages of opt in, thank you and video content pages. Yet another example of how much time I wasted thinking about it vs actually doing it. There was a nice cost saving too, I was spending $45 USD on Lead Pages per month (about $65 in AU$). Thrive costs me $149 USD per year. It takes time to learn though, so don’t fall into the false economy of saving money but wasting time.
Back to YOU!
All these tech choices that feel like they have to be perfect for you to get started don’t. It takes very little time to move from one platform to another if you make the wrong choice or need to upgrade. Yes, you can plan for the 1000 member super site that makes $50k per month right now. The reality is that it will take you some time to get there. Start where you are today, use what you have and don’t overcomplicate the process.