We were silent as the car left the coziness of our home to the bright lights of the train station. I’d never been so anxious.
At the drop-off bay, I opened the door to leave and gave a barely noticeable lurch … barely noticeable. My husband looked at me with wide eyes.
“Did you just throw up in your mouth?!”
“No …” (I lied.)
And so I went, to run the copywriting workshop that made me (almost) decide to give up live workshops altogether and only teach online.
And I want to share what happened because
it’s cheaper than therapy even though not all live workshops are nightmares, I realized a valuable lesson:
Teaching online isn’t just easier on your nerves; it makes great, profitable sense.
Let me give you five reasons why …
Reason #1: You don’t have to be an ex-marine to win over your students (they already love you)
LouAnne Johnson in Dangerous Minds. Detective John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop.
Both teachers equipped with the necessary skills to thwart unruly classroom action and turn hard-to-please students into enthusiastic scholars.
But while I had no hand-to-hand combat skills to demonstrate and couldn’t shout like an Austrian bodybuilder, I was in the same predicament as them. I was about to teach students who didn’t really want to be there.
I’d already taught one workshop for this particular company and it had just about turned me to drink. Contractually obliged to deliver another one, I felt ill at the thought of facing it all again.
You see, after we’d signed agreements, worrying details began to drip into my email inbox:
- “We desperately need to improve everyone’s copywriting skills.”
- “Attendees don’t want to be there.”
- “We’re forcing them to take this training.”
And one more the day before, just to ramp up my nausea:
“I know this is a bit last minute, and we’d agreed you’d teach on an intermediate level, but tomorrow you’ll be in front of a group with a huge range in ability and experience: from complete beginners to senior management … Please bear this in mind.”
Perhaps this time it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe this was a more willing group? I gauged people’s attitudes as they filed into the room.
“At least it gets us out of work for the day …”
I shuffled my notes by the projector.
“Are you taking the course, too?”
“Oh no.” I smiled in a way I hoped would communicate confidence. “I’ll be running the session today.”
“Really? Who are you?”
When you create your own online education offer, you attract an audience that wants to learn from you.
If you’ve built an online audience through content marketing, you sell to people who already know, like, and trust you.
You attract and teach a crowd that is enthusiastic and can’t wait to learn from you. No hand-to-hand combat skills needed.
Reason #2: You have more control over your teaching environment
The next challenge I had that day: the projector didn’t work. So, no slides to share.
I quickly shuffled the schedule so we didn’t lose any teaching time and then spent the morning tip-toeing around electrical cables and technicians working in the room.
Attendees focused on writing exercises, and they seemed to be engaged. I congratulated myself for hitting the curve ball.
Until I got the feedback forms.
“Didn’t have the projector working straight away” was one of the biggest complaints.
Online, it’s easier to teach materials with confidence.
Of course you can still experience technical hiccups online, but since you control the teaching environment, you can take steps to help prevent them.
- Take time to research the best online teaching platforms.
- Use free software trials to see which product is the best fit for you.
- Practice your session from start to finish.
So when you’re ready to teach, you’re confident, calm, and ready to give your students your best.
Reason #3: Teach once, sell many times over (the definition of a smart investment of time)
“Excuse me, I have a question …”
“Yes?!” I answered keenly, looking up from my notes. A man faced me with mild despair. In his hand was one of the free pencils from the venue.
“Do you have a sharpener? I’ve blunted my pencil.”
Did I forget to mention that very few people had brought their own pens or paper to the workshop?
To a copywriting workshop.
“Ah … no. You could just get another free pencil. I can see about 20 over there.”
My internal monologue shifted from enthusiasm to despair: “Are you frikken kidding me?! A pencil? Are you six? How do you get anything done day-to-day?! A pencil!”
I looked at the clock — seven hours to go.
In seven hours, I could have created some new marketing materials to generate sales, drafted a couple of new lessons for a membership course, or written an educational webinar to promote an online course.
Instead, I was stuck in a room handing out pencils.
Until they master cloning, you can’t scale your live workshops and profit.
I’ve had the pleasure of running many workshops that I absolutely loved. Even so, I was capped at the number of training days I could physically do each month.
Anyone who trades time for money has this limit, and in addition to limiting your revenue, it can also make you susceptible to the small business “feast or famine” cycle:
- Do a ton of marketing.
- Attract a ton of clients.
- Spend all your time on client work and forget about marketing.
- Wonder why the work dries up.
- Repeat cycle, starting from step one.
Now imagine this cycle if you teach online:
- Create a useful online course that addresses your audience’s needs.
- Develop an ongoing marketing system to feed new people into your sales funnel.
- Watch sales come in.
- Repeat cycle, starting from step two.
With online education, you can deliver the content to many people without it taking up all of your time. Teaching 1,000 people can be as easy as teaching 100, leaving you more time to focus on marketing and generating sales.
Scalability. It’s what makes online education so darn sexy.
Reason #4: You build a community of (profitable) evangelists
At 5:30 p.m., the most-senior attendee got up and walked out without saying goodbye.
It was too bad, because we’d spent so many happy minutes discussing his valuable contributions:
- “I wouldn’t put that word in that place.”
- “That’s the wrong length for a subject line. It should only ever be eight words.”
- “You should never use that word. It doesn’t work.”
- “I hate this magazine. You can’t learn about content from newspapers and magazines.”
It was a joy to see his wisdom actively adopted by the other students.
I’m kidding. I wanted to strangle him with his lanyard.
Which I have never wanted to do with any of my online students, but online education isn’t just valuable because the people you attract are awesome.
Great customers don’t just fill your heart with happiness; they fill up the bottom line.
Each customer can potentially contribute more value than even the cost of admission because of:
- Raving testimonials. The next time you launch to new members, you’ll have a ton of social proof that shows you kick ass.
- People talking. Reviews and endorsements from fans can increase your exposure to new audiences.
- Repeat purchases. If customers love one class you teach, they might love your next one or jump at the chance to train with you one-on-one.
Making the sale shouldn’t be the end of the process — it just might be the beginning of a long-term, profitable relationship.
Something I was never going to have with Mr. Lanyard.
Reason #5: You build authority
Now that ebooks are so common, how do you stand out as an authority in your industry?
Don’t just write about your knowledge. Be the expert who teaches the hot topic in your industry.
There’s nothing like having a signature program that makes people say: ‘Oh her? She’s the person who does [course name].’
And in addition to attracting people who want to take your course, you’ll probably attract people who want to hire the expert who delivers the course.
You might be approached about a lucrative contract, a speaking gig, or consultancy. Whichever it is, it’s definitely true that opportunities appear when you are an authority in your niche.
Now, that company’s training session hasn’t stopped me from running live workshops. I’ve enjoyed too many to know that it was (thankfully) a rare nightmare.
But I can’t ignore the profitable possibilities that come from expanding my reach with online teaching.
Over to you…
So, how can you teach your skills online?
Can you take content from an ebook and teach it in a paid webinar? Create a membership site? Organize an online bootcamp?
If so, I think you should do it. I’m pretty sure you won’t look back.
Join the discussion on LinkedIn to let us know about your experience with online teaching or how you plan to develop a new online course …
Additional reading: If you found this post useful, make sure to also read Pamela Wilson’s article, How to Structure and Sell Your Natural Expertise.
Editor’s Note on Teaching as a Business:
If teaching online sounds like a business model you want to learn more about, we’re going to be launching a brand-new version of our flagship Teaching Sells course, in a new “Quick Start” edition. Watch the blog for more information — we’ll be providing lots more details in the coming weeks.
About the Author: Amy Harrison is a copywriter, content trainer, and owner of Write With Influence: a comprehensive copywriting training system. To access your free five-day video course with techniques for writing irresistible marketing content, click here.
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