Recently, I launched my brand new course. Podcast Liftoff: Launch. A lot of work goes into creating an online course, and this episode peels back the curtain a little bit. You’ll learn about the journey and decision making that took place, the research and audience building, and of-course, the process and tools.
- Creator Courses
- Podcast Liftoff Mindmap
- My recording process | Video Resources
- Video Recording Gear
- WooCommerce Memberships
- WooCommerce Subscriptions
- Vimeo Pro
Hey everybody. And welcome to another episode of How I Built It. The podcast that asks, how did you build that. Today, I am doing a solo episode where I talk about a topic that has been pretty popular lately, and that is podcasting. And specifically, I want to tell you how I built my new Podcast Liftoff launch course.
Now if you are super excited and you just want to go check out the course right now, as you’re listening, I’ve got great news for you. If you go to howibuilt.it/podcast, you will get an exclusive discount for listeners only. Again, that’s howibuilt.it/podcast. And that’s an exclusive discount for listeners only. That discount is going to extend past the launch period. Which as this episode comes out, there’s only one day left for that. So if you are listening on the Tuesday that it comes out, that would be Tuesday, June 2nd. You have until the end of the day on June 3rd to get the course for as cheap as you’re going to get it.
But, today I want to talk to you about how I put together the course. A little behind the scenes action for you. So as you probably know, I have been making courses for a long time. I think we’re coming up on a decade now since I’ve developed my first course. A little more than a decade since I started teaching. And I’ve been developing and selling my own courses for about six years now.
So how did I come to make a course about podcasting, when I’ve been mostly in the web development and the WordPress space? Well, I’m going to tell you how I got here, how I created the course, the tools I used and all that. But first, I want to tell you about our sponsors. Our sponsors for the day are Ahrefs, CircleCI, and TextExpander. And you’re going to hear from Ahrefs right now.
Break: This episode is brought to you by Ahrefs. Ahrefs is an all in one SEO tool set that solves that problem. It gives you the tools you need to rank your website in Google and get tons of search traffic. As someone who struggles with what kind of content to create or what’s ranking best in Google, or really anything SEO related, Ahrefs has been instrumental in increasing traffic to my website. Over the holidays, I had my best quarter for affiliate income because Ahrefs showed me my most popular pages and topics. And I was able to optimize my content and my gift guides, and update them accordingly. I would have never updated one of my gift guides because I didn’t think it was that popular. Ahrefs actually showed me it is my most popular page.
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Now as I said, I don’t think I’m getting significant search traffic. So I use Ahrefs tools to help find topics worth creating pages or content for. I can easily see estimated search volumes and gauge traffic potential with their keyword explorer tool. It’s been a fantastic addition to my toolkit. Just this morning, I learned that my everyday carry post has been popular. Lots of people are coming. So I think it’s time to update that because it’s five years old.
If you want to gain a following or just improve traffic to your website, Ahrefs is the tool for you. You can get a seven day trial for $7 over at ahrefs.com. That’s A-H-R-E-F-S.com for a seven day trial or $7. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hooked. Again that’s A-H-R-E-F-S.com for a seven day trial for $7. And now, back to the show,
All right, so let’s get right into it. I started this podcast back in 2016, shortly after I got married. But I’ve been podcasting on and off since about 2012, 2013. I started a podcast with a few friends of mine. I tried to evolve that into something. And then I started How I Built It.
And over the course of those years, I’ve had four. I have two that still live on today. And this being by far the most popular one and the one that does the best for me as far as listenership and income.
So I’ve been getting a lot of questions over the years about how I was able to grow my listenership. “How do you start a podcast? What do I do?” There’s so many steps. And honestly, when I started podcasting, I did not know of a course, perhaps there was one. But by the time I started thinking about doing an online course, there were a few already out there. Most notably Pat Flynn’s Power-Up Podcasting and a couple of others.
But the story of how I started to do a podcasting course and getting into this niche starts at Podcast Movement 2018, which in Philadelphia. I think if I’m remembering that correctly. It was in Philadelphia. I’m definitely remembering that correctly. The year I’m trying to remember, and it was 2018. It was my first Podcast Movement. It was in Philly. So I could take the train to it because I was living, I am still living pretty close to Philly. So I decided to give it a go, see what I could learn.
And on the first day I met a few people there who were way, actually most people I should say were way more interested in the fact that I was a web developer and not just a podcaster. See it was a podcasting convention, so most people there were podcasters. There were decidedly fewer web developers.
So as I talked to people, I actually landed a couple of consulting gigs. And I talked to people about the struggles of their podcast websites, because I noticed that some people didn’t really have one. They were just using what their host provided. They weren’t sure what to do. There was a Wix website out there that was just like a bunch of boxes that linked directly to Apple Podcasts.
And I got an idea. I didn’t come to Podcast Movement with this idea. I actually just came to Podcast Movement to learn more about podcasting. But I left with this idea that perhaps there should be a course focused specifically on podcast websites and how to build your podcast website.
So I outlined it. I got all excited. I was going to call it, Build Your Podcast Website With WordPress. I got some great advice from my friend Chris Lema, that With WordPress should not be in the title because most people don’t care about the tool they’re using necessarily, just how to do it. And I thought that was a good idea. So I changed it to Launch your Podcast in Three Days. I think your day one is planning. Day two is building the website. Day three is publishing the website.
And I went full steam ahead creating this course. I didn’t do any research. I just figured why do I need to tell people how to create a podcast when there are courses that tell people how to create a podcast? I’m just going to pick up where those courses leave off and say, “Here’s how you build your own website.”
And then I launched the course. A couple of people bought it, but the most amount of feedback I got was, “I don’t want to learn how to build a podcast website. I want to learn how to launch a podcast.” And I thought all right, well maybe my assumption was incorrect. Spoiler alert, it definitely was incorrect.
And I realized also that I didn’t really do a good job of building an audience. I was still trying to tap into my current audience. And maybe if I positioned that course the right way, How to Build a Podcast Website for your Clients maybe would have been better because I would have been attracting that audience. But I didn’t do that. I actually didn’t think about doing that until today as I record this.
So I got a lot of feedback. The course did not sell very well. And I decided to go back to the drawing board, and actually start building an audience. So I created this podcast workbook. That is a very popular option for me. In fact, about half of my mailing list is people who opted into that. And I went on a little bit of a PR tour. I went on other people’s podcasts. I started creating more content around podcasting.
And over the course of two years, maybe a year and a half, I established myself as a podcasting expert in my space. To the point now where people actually refer to me as, “Joe’s the podcasting expert.” And full disclosure. I don’t really think I’m a podcasting expert. I think I know a lot about podcasting because I’ve been doing it and I’m sharing my experience. But I let other people use the word expert to describe me. I try not to do that.
So in that time where I built my list, I created a funnel or a sequence or whatever in ConvertKit where I ask people straight off the bat, “What’s your number one question. What’s your number one issue with podcasting? What are you having the most trouble with?” And I came to learn that there were a few things. “What do I podcast about, how do I hit record? Where do I go? How do I do it?” A lot of questions that people had about starting a podcast.
So I decided that I would take that feedback and I would take what I was learning from trying to sell my course. And I would just revamp the course. I would call it Podcast Liftoff, and it would be all inclusive. It would do launching a podcast, the website, the promoting, and the monetizing. It would be like a monolithic course that covered everything.
So I did that. I created a mind map with MindNode, and I will share a screenshot of that in the show notes for this episode, over at howibuilt.it/171. But I have this mind map. I take it. And my general process for course creation is to take the mind map, organize it into a way that makes sense as far as process and pedagogy is the fancy word the educators use, go. And then I created an outline, and I had this spreadsheet that I use to create courses where I break each lesson down into sections. So there’s a section with a bunch of lessons in it, and each one has a title and a description. And I use it to keep track of what I have the scripture in for and what I have recorded. And what’s out for edit. So it’s kind of like a tracker for me.
And it was big. And then I let it sit for a long time because it was like 70 or 80 modules, different videos. And I was overwhelmed by it and I wasn’t sure if it was worth pursuing.
But I finally, during the great quarantine of 2020, I finally got the spirit and I made the time to start recording these videos. So let me kind of get into the process before I tell you the pivot I ultimately decided to make.
So you’ve already learned about my mind map. I used MindNode for that. I take the minds map and I convert it into a spreadsheet. That spreadsheet, I use Google Sheets for that. It’s the tracker for me, for everything that I’m doing in the process. It has the video names, the lesson numbers, the description, any edit notes, and things like that.
Then I script and I don’t generally script a lot of my stuff. This episode is not scripted. I don’t know if you could tell or not. But this episode is not scripted. And I just thought it was too important, this course was too important for me to not script because I wanted to make sure I was covering all the bases.
So I scripted like half of the course. And there’s a good chunk of the course in there that was already recorded for the podcast website stuff. Remember, this is a monolithic course that was going to cover launching and publishing, making the website, promoting the course, and making money. Promoting the podcast and making money off of the podcast.
So I scripted a whole bunch of it. And then I decided, “You know what? I haven’t scripted the whole thing, but I’ll get there. Let me just start recording. And it’ll help kind of motivate me to get to the end so that I can quickly release this,” at a time where I felt a lot of people were probably trying to figure out how to launch a podcast. It was pretty apparent in the first few weeks of this, that lots of people were deciding to launch a podcast.
So with about half the scripts were in, I decided to record. But before we get to that, let me tell you about our next sponsor CircleCI.
Break: This episode is sponsored by CircleCI. Whether you’re on a development team, manage a development team yourself, or you have a business that relies on working software. A good process is so important to making sure you’re creating high quality work. Continuous integration, or the ability to check and manage code automatically, can help you and your developers streamline the process in a big way. And CircleCI is here to help. Designed for modern software teams, CircleCI’s continuous integration and delivery platform helps developers push code with confidence. Trusted by thousands of companies from four person startups to fortune 500 businesses. CircleCI helps teams take their software from idea to delivery quickly, safely, and at scale. Visit howibuilt.it/circleci to learn why high performing dev ops teams use CircleCI to automate and accelerate their continuous integration and delivery pipelines.
As someone who’s worked on big coding projects or big companies with distributed development teams, I can tell you that continuous integration tools have helped us make sure we deliver working code to our clients. It helps instill trust in our team, and it lets our team focus on solving new problems instead of dealing with the same ones over and over again.
So once again, learn how CircleCI can help you end your business at howibuilt.it/circleci. As a special bonus for How I Built It listeners, CircleCI is having a virtual raffle where you can win a pair of the newest Sony noise canceling headphones. Improve your team’s processes and enter for a chance to win at howibuilt.it/circleci. That’s C-I-R-C-L-E-C-I. And now back to the show.
Okay. So again, with the scripts are in, I decided to start recording. And I have a YouTube video of how I do this, that I’ll link to. But the tools I use are OBS, my Sony A6400. A big component of this course was it was going to be a lot more talking head than previous videos or previous courses I’ve made, which have been basically all screencast. So I got a fancy new camera. I will link to a video of how I set that up as well, where I’m getting fantastic looking 4K video. So I have OBS, my camera. I created slides that I switched to. And the way I’m easily switching to those slides is with my stream deck.
And this was really important because there was another thing I knew I was going to do before I started recording. And that was sending my videos out for edit. So I was going to send them to another video editor. And this was the first time I’ve decided to do this because I can edit videos myself. As a matter of fact, people hire me to create videos for them.
So this was kind of a big step for me, especially because it was talking head and I wanted to make sure that they were cut the right way. And I found a former Treehouse video editor. He is great, but I sent him all of the videos or most of the videos, and he edited them. And it saved me a ton of time that I knew would just extend the life of this project and make it even longer for me to launch. So anyway, that whole tangent was to tell you that I wanted to be able to easily switch between just the camera, my slides, and my slides and the camera. And the stream deck with OBS allowed me to do that so I wouldn’t have to make a bunch of edit notes like use this slide here, etc.
There were a few videos I did edit. And those were mostly screencasts that I recorded ScreenFlow. And I just did that because there are a couple of things that I wanted to make sure I got that it would have been easier for me to do or faster for me to do than for me to communicate those things.
Now with my next course, I’m going to communicate those things to the editor. And I’m probably going to record in ScreenFlow. And one of the things I like to do is boost the size of the cursor so that people can see it more easily, especially on mobile devices. Because I record on a 5K screen. And I want to make sure that they could see everything. So I do boost the size of the cursor. And if I record that in OBS, there’s not an easy way to do that. With ScreenFlow, they capture the cursor separately so that you can easily replace that.
So, that was the recording process. I recorded a lot of videos, like around 30 videos over the course of a couple of weeks. Usually dedicating Saturdays to it because I’m working fewer days now. Long story short, my wife is a nurse and my daughter’s not in daycare. So on days where my wife is working, I watch my daughter. And there’s not a lot of time for me to get much done. So I’m working on Saturdays. And since Saturdays are generally pretty quiet days, I decide to record podcast Liftoff on those days.
I recorded the videos. I sent them to my editor. And then fairly recently, within the last couple of weeks before launching the course, I was in the hot seat in my mastermind group. So my mastermind group is a great trends. And each week or every other week, we rotate who is in the hot seat. Which means we give quick updates ourselves. And then we focus in on one person for most of the hour.
And I was talking through some of the issues I was having. And somebody in my mastermind, actually it was like a team effort. But somebody led the discussion and they were saying, “The thing that you should do is take your learners on a journey.” And I know this inherently, “But present them with a course that allows them to get up and running quickly. And then present new courses or new workshops to them when they are ready.”
And it seemed so obvious to me when I heard this in the mastermind group. But if I have one single giant course that covers the gamut, people probably wouldn’t want to buy that either because they might think, “Well, I’m not ready to build a podcast website. I don’t want to pay for that part of it.” So I decided with their help to break the course up into four courses and make it the Podcast Liftoff curriculum.
So just to bring it back to the beginning, the first podcasting course I put out was Launch Your Podcast Website In Three Days. The problem with that is that nobody wants a podcast website if they don’t have a podcast. I was sending Luke Skywalker to fight Darth Vader without a light saber, let alone knowledge of the force. So that was my first big mistake.
My second big mistake was thinking people would pay a high dollar amount for a giant course. And maybe that is true, right? But I’m not Pat Flynn. I’m not Amy Porterfield. I’m not some of these other people who are selling thousand dollar programs. I am Joe Casabona, and I make small consumable courses that have clear action items for people to get through.
So Podcast Liftoff is now the curriculum. And the four courses inside the curriculum are Podcast Liftoff Launch to show you how to launch your podcast. Podcast Liftoff Build, which will show you how to build your website. Or I’m calling it Podcast Liftoff Website too, but that’s not a verb. So I’m struggling a little bit with that name.
Then Podcast Liftoff Promote, which will show you how to promote and grow your podcast. And finally, Podcast Liftoff Monetize, which will give you all of the ways that you can make money with your podcast.
The first two are done, because the website course already existed. And Podcast Liftoff Launch was all the videos that I had scripted up until that point. So with that knowledge and the fact that my editor was getting most of those videos to me pretty quickly, made me ready to launch last week.
So I was super excited. I restructured the website course a little bit. I moved some lessons around. I went to my spreadsheet, and I basically broke up all of the videos into four courses instead of one giant course. And I was ready to go.
So launching the course, let’s talk about how I’m selling it, where I’m selling it, etc. I have a website, creatorcourses.com. That is where all of my courses and my memberships live. But I want Podcast Liftoff to be a signature course of mine. And so I want it to sit on its own domain. A lot of people I should say who have signature courses, will employ this strategy where they have a top level domain that’s pretty much a landing page for the course. And then they send people to enroll at wherever their courses are. Most people have their courses on Teachable. I have a WordPress install that is using WooCommerce with WooCommerce memberships, WooCommerce subscriptions, and LearnDash. So my LMS is LearnDash. I put the courses in there. I had some people who were preregistered for Podcast Liftoff or got the Podcast Liftoff website course that I wanted them to be automatically enrolled in Podcast Liftoff launch. I was able to do that pretty easily thanks to LearnDash. And then I created the course. I have the course materials. I made sure that the Facebook group was ready to go and included in the course materials, because that’s where I want my students to interact. And then I built out the lessons. I host my videos with Vimeo, Vimeo Pro specifically. And I uploaded all of my videos to that.
One thing actually is because I wanted to launch as quickly as possible, I had about 30 gigabytes of videos. And your weekly limit on the Vimeo plan that I had, Vimeo Pro, was 20 gigabytes a week. So I actually ended up upgrading to Vimeo Pro unlimited, which with the coupon code I found ended up being an extra five bucks a month.
But I wanted to upload all of those at the same time. And I knew that I would probably run into this issue again because I plan on updating a lot of my courses over the course of the year. The coming year. And I’m doing a lot more 4K video. And those are big. Those are big videos.
So I have the course in LearnDash. I have the videos hosted at Vimeo. I have the course materials, which is the podcast workbook I’m giving away, but with a lot clearer prompts. Every lesson or just about every lesson ends with an action item for them to do based on something in the workbook mostly.
And then I have the emails. There’s a great add-on for LearnDash called LD Notification. It’s free, where you can send emails based on when somebody enrolls in the course, when somebody completes the course, when they complete a lesson, etc. So I have a few emails set up throughout the course where students will get emails and check-ins, and things like that.
So the next thing I want to talk about is interacting. And that’s a problem that I’ve had for a long time with my students. Just trying to get more interaction. But before we get to that, let’s hear from our third and final sponsor TextExpander.
Break: Today’s episode is brought to you by Smile and their product TextExpander. Save time typing and boost your productivity with TextExpander. I’m all about automation, and TextExpander is a great way to get started with automation. It allows you to create your own snippets for repetitive texts you tend to use everywhere. Add the text, create a snippet, and boom. Save precious time and keystrokes. One of my favorite snippets is for my address. So instead of typing out my full address and risking typos, I simply type $addr, and text expander does the rest, filling in my full address for me. I also have snippets for my street, my city, and my zip code.
Another one of my favorite and most used snippets is when I type PPT. That will take whatever text I have on my clipboard and convert it to plain text. So I’m no longer fighting formatting when I copy from a Word document, a Google Doc, or a plain HTML page, like a website.
I also use it for common links, email messages, which I can completely customize with fill-ins and drop down menus. And even date calculations. I’m currently writing a book, and TextExpander has been instrumental with that. TextExpander is available on Mac OS, Windows, Chrome, iPhone, and iPad. So pretty much anywhere you do computer. If you’ve been curious about trying TextExpander or automation in general, now’s the time. As a listener, you can get 20% off your first year. Just visit textexpander.com/podcast and let them know How I Built It sent you. That’s textexpander.com/podcast for 20% off your first year. And now back to the show.
All right, thanks so much to TextExpander once again. They were actually integral in me adding a bunch of stuff to my course, because I created a bunch of snippets for the repeatable stuff, like the course materials and things like that.
Anyway. So interacting with my students. This was idea I saw from a few educators or educational places like masterclass, Pat Flynn’s class, things like that. Peter Hollins’ class, or courses. And there are a few things I’m doing here.
So I turned comments on for every lesson and topic. This allows students, I should say, to comment directly on the video they just watched. Ask questions, let others answer, share what they’re working on, and things like that. This is an ecosystem that they are already in. They don’t have to go any place extra. And for people who don’t use Facebook, this is a good way for them to interact with other students.
But I also did create a Facebook student center for my members and all students. So we’ll see there’s not enough activity across all of my courses yet for each course to get its own standalone Facebook group. And with the members side of things, members are taking a bunch of courses. And I don’t want members to have to join a bunch of Facebook groups for every individual course they take. So this makes the most sense to me. I might change my mind in the future. I’ve been hearing good things about Discord now. I see a bunch of people using that, and that seems like a great community. But when I asked my members and my students what was best for them, Facebook seemed to win out the most. I think people are getting Slack fatigue. But I wanted to give my students some options, and one was super easy turning on comments.
They also have the ability to email me of course. They’re always invited to email me. And one of the things I’m still considering as I record this is actually adding a chat bot to my lessons. I was using one for a little while that served as both kind of pre-sale and inline interaction with the students as they were taking the lessons, if they had specific questions about the lessons. But I didn’t really configure it that well, I didn’t include the URL for example. Or the lesson name. Right? So I’m like, “What course are they talking about?”
But I just had a conversation with my friend Brad Morrison, that episode is coming out next week. So that’s the episode that follows this, 172. Where he mentions chat bots at some point. So it’s got me thinking about it again.
But that’s everything. That’s all the stuff I’m considering. I know I talked about a lot of stuff. Tools and processes, things like that. But I hope it’s helpful and I hope it makes a lot of sense.
So just to quickly sum up, I got an idea. And that turned out to be a not great idea. So step one is research and actually talk to people. And don’t just say, “Is this a good idea?” Actually get feedback and ask them how much they would pay for such a thing. Set up a presale page and see if people would actually order that. Build your audience is number two. I have an actual audience to launch to now, and this launch is going better than the podcast website launch. I use my node to create a mind map of everything I might want to include in the course. And then I distill that into an outline, which I use Google Sheets for.
When it comes to scripting, yes I scripted a bunch of these. And if you watch some of the videos, you can kind of tell. I don’t have a teleprompter, because I don’t work off scripts that often. But you can tell at some points I’m glancing at the screen a little bit too long, like my monitor. In later videos, I just create an outline of talking points, right? Because it is stuff that I know that well, and maybe I just need a couple of prompts.
So scripting is totally up to you. I generally don’t script. I just have a list of talking points that I like to get to. and with screencasts, I don’t. With onscreen tutorials, unless somebody has hired me to make a video for them where the scripting process is super important. Then that’s when I do it, but I don’t do it for my own videos most of the time.
So then I record it. I will link to my recording process and all of the gear. Again, the show notes are going to be at howibuilt.it/171. I used an editor for the first time. I use LearnDash for my LMS. And the interaction stuff I’m doing through built-in comments and Facebook.
So my trade secret for you would be, I think that what I started off this whole wrap up with, which is research and talk to people and get some real feedback. So that’s it for this episode.
If you enjoyed this process and you’re interested in the course, which will take you from everything from planning, picking a topic, staying consistent, to publishing, launching episode zero, and submitting it to Apple Podcasts and Spotify and the rest. You can head over to howibuilt.it/podcast, because that will redirect you to a wonderful page where a discount has already been applied for you dear listener.
Thanks so much to this week’s sponsors Ahrefs, CircleCI, and TextExpander. Their support allows me to keep coming to you every week with interviews and content that I hope you find useful. For more information about them and all the show notes, everything that I talked about here, head over to howibuilt.it/171.
If you liked this episode, give us a rating and reviews on Apple Podcasts. It helps people discover the show, and I’m having a really good month. So I’m excited. Thank you for everybody who has been going off and giving a rating or review. Or telling a friend about it, maybe there’s a particular episode. The COVID-19 episode was like gangbusters. So thank you for telling people about the show. And until next time, get out there and build something.