How to Build a Creator Education Business with John Meese

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  • Ali Abdaal built PTYA
  • Marie Forleo built B-School
  • Amy Porterfield built Digital Course Academy

Educational creators can turn their knowledge into wealth and John Meese can show you how ⚡

This episode is for educational creators 📚

John Meese, the author of Always Be Teaching, runs a newsletter called Sell Your Smarts. He helps creators turn their wisdom into wealth by building a profitable online education business.

In this episode of Creators on Air, John Meese joins us to discuss how to channel your credibility, monetise early and serve your audience.

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Episode Transcript

Akta: [00:00:00] There's David Pell's, Rite of Passage, Marie Folio's, B-School and Ali Al's, part-time YouTuber Academy for Educational Creators. There's lots of potential to build a thriving business with your expertise and knowledge, but where do you

John: start? Where do you already have experience? Where do you already have knowledge?

What are things that you already understand and can execute on based on what you've done in your industry? And so I try to break that down in terms of. A combination of knowledge and experience. In other words, what are the things that you understand and what are the things that you can execute that can help someone solve a problem?

And then let's create a course about that. John

Akta: Mac is the author of Always Be Teaching, and he helps creators to turn their wisdom into wealth by building a thriving online education business. In this episode of Creators and Air. John shares the common mistakes that educational creators make, how to go about building a successful program and how to price your offerings.

John: You know, there's different types of creators, and so you've gotta figure out what are you creating and why. You know, I think it's kind of like the first question that I think a lot of people skip over and they just start creating content because maybe it sounds fun or maybe they saw something they're [00:01:00] interested in, or maybe they just have this drive to create.

Which are all legit. And I love that. And Nathan Berry was probably the first person that broke it down in such a way that really stuck out to me. He's the c e O of ConvertKit that creators either educate, entertain, or inspire. And the reality is some, we all do some, all, some version of all three of those and some combo of all three of those just to keep people's attention.

But I have seen, um, in the last decade that I've been doing this, uh, building online education companies is that there is a totally different approach of whether you're building to entertain. To inspire or to educate. And so I think the first mistake people make is honestly not pause and make that choice.

Mm-hmm. And um, I've, since I made that choice, I reshifted my whole business to focus on online education companies because I wanted to really, Stay in that education lane. Mm-hmm. Um, yeah, I do try to entertain and inspire when I can, but that's all very secondary to my core goal of educating.

Akta: Yeah. And I feel like, so for creators who do want to kind of go down this route of education Yeah.

And building an education business, but they struggle [00:02:00] to really understand, you know, who their audience is and what problem they're trying to solve, what advice would you give to those creators?

John: Yeah, well, the first thing I would say is, you know, just get on the phone. I mean, I, I, I, I love the internet, but I do think it's a, it's, a lot of people skip over the step of actually having some mechanism in their business where they're talking to their target customer.

And so is there a conference where your target customer hangs out? Is there, um, you know, you gotta get clarity on your target customer being a real enough. Person, you can actually find them. If, if that means find 'em on the internet in a forum Sure. Or a Facebook group. Sure. If that means find 'em at an in-person event, awesome.

But what a lot of people do is they sort of describe a general target customer without actually getting clear on who those real people are. Um, and that's a huge problem. Startups deal with this. They will invest hundreds of millions of dollars into building a company that's serving an imaginary customer avatar.

Somebody created and. Then it flops. And so, um, yeah, I'm very [00:03:00] much a big fan of saying like, at its core, any business you have to get clear on who are the real people that you're serving, what is the real problem they have, and what is the real solution you offer. And so I can talk more about that if you want, but that's just kind of like, I guess where I would start.

Akta: Yeah. So like what kind of questions do you ask those real people? Like, and, you know, how many people is, should we be asking?

John: Well, it starts with one, right? One at a time. Um, what I do is, so I have a, a framework that I refer to as a serve call. Um, so I actually have like a whole, um, you know, training and resource on this.

We can dig into it however you want, but, um, this is how I conduct a conversation with a target customer is I will get, I will invite them onto some sort of, Coaching conversation, do I do try to present it as something that's valuable to them. Obviously, I have to build some sort of rapport with them first, and so if I don't have a relationship with somebody, I might just invite them to chat and say, I'd love to talk about your goals and just get to understand you a bit better.

And then the whole rest of the conversation by design is meant to be you asking pretty open-ended questions and [00:04:00] letting the customer, potential customer, um, Drive the conversation. Usually what I'm focusing on are first and foremost, asking 'em questions about what are the results that they want to achieve and what are the roadblocks currently in their way.

Now, once you get clarity on that, I mean that's really the whole business because a product is simply about helping someone achieve a result without the roadblock. Um, and so. When I'm teaching this, and I will say actually, like a lot of people do things like this, they call it market research, but I actually then as part of this call, try to close a sale for a flagship program every single time, because that's the best feedback is that if you could, if you've heard someone, if you've listened to them on what results they, they're trying to achieve, what roadblocks they have, and if you have a product or an offer or potential offer that you think could meet that need, um, then just being able to kind of drive that conversation home.

To invite them to say, well, hey, I've got a program that'll help you achieve this result without that roadblock. Is this something you'd be interested in? That's the best feedback because what you don't want [00:05:00] is you don't wanna ask a bunch of people, Hey, would you buy this imaginary thing? And then just say yes without giving them a chance to actually do it.

Because the truth is someone's saying yes with their words and with their wallet are two different things. Um, and so I actually go straight to selling a program as part of the feedback process when I'm creating a new program. Wow.

Akta: I love that. I love that you combine market research with coaching and actually selling something at the end as well.

Yeah. Versus like separating it all into three different difficult steps. So that's really great. Yeah. Um, how would you go about building that credibility in the. First place to kind of, you know, like gain the trust of your audience before you even start thinking about, you know, figuring out. How you can help them?

John: Well, I'd say before you even think about your audience, I would say look at yourself in terms of building credibility of, I mean, you do really need to ask where do you have credibility? I mean, we can't fake it here. Um, now there is one whole strategy for like, if you're trying to build a business in an industry where you, [00:06:00] or where you don't have a lot of experience, there's a whole strategy for, um, essentially becoming.

Someone who's kind of the struggler, this archetype that we've I've I've written about before, of someone who creates a brand that's sort of just sharing what they're learning as they're learning it. And that's really inspiring to people who don't know a lot about that industry. But generally, most of my clients, I'm helping them unpack like, okay, where do you already have experience?

Where do you already have knowledge? What are things that you already understand and can execute on based on what you've done in your industry? And so that's a precursor. I would say. Like you do actually have to know what you're talking about, but it doesn't have to be that complicated. You don't have to have a PhD in it.

You just have to know more than someone who has a problem in this category. And so I try to break that down in terms of teaching wisdom, being a combination of knowledge and experience. In other words, what are the things that you understand? What are things that you can execute in such a way that can help someone solve a problem?

And then let's create a course about that. That's kind of, I'm hearing myself talking and realizing I was going a little philosophical. We should probably get tactical on this. Um, but what questions come to mind for you about what I just [00:07:00] said?

Akta: I mean, for me it's more like, you know, 'cause I feel like a lot of creators that, I mean, maybe it's 'cause I'm this sort of creator that I'm.

The creator who's kind of sharing experiences as I go along versus having that kind of set credibility. But then also if I did have that set credibility, I guess it's like how much content do you kind of share for, you know, free versus like how much do you know, know, do you kinda gate, keep and charge for?

What is that balance? Because you want to build trust before people will pay you to kind of. Educate, I guess.

John: Yeah, so I have the exact same content for free in my newsletter for cheap in my books, you know, for five or $10 in my books for a hundred dollars in a masterclass for $500 in an all day bootcamp, and for $10,000 in a 10 week coaching program.

It's all the exact same content. The difference is the level of support you get from me, templates, resources, and coaching to help you implement it. And so I'm very much a fan of, Letting [00:08:00] information be free and like, as much as possible, because that's one of the best things you can do to earn credibility, is just give away your best content.

Because the reality is when someone's hiring you, and even if by hiring you, I mean they're buying a course or buying a book from you, they're, they're hiring a copy of your brain essentially to help 'em solve a problem. It's just the how-to manual for the big idea. Not to say that your free stuff can't be how to, but the reality is it's one thing to read a blog, post a book about how to, how to swim.

Right. Like if you've never swung before, if you don't know how to swim, and it's one thing to read about it and, and even hear stories about people who've gone swimming and think like, wow, that sounds so cool. But it's totally different to sit down with a coach and have them actually walk through actually teaching you different styles of swimming.

Like that's just a different experience. There's no difference in the information that was shared. The only difference is really the level of involvement, um, and support from someone who has experience in that category. Um, and so I, that's how I think about products as well. Mm-hmm. And how do you

Akta: deal, you know, like your clients, how do you.

Coach them, I guess to [00:09:00] overcome imposter syndrome. 'cause I feel like that's very common for educational creators. Yeah.

John: I have a chapter on that and always be teaching. So yes, that is a common thing that comes up is what about imposter syndrome? Um, there's a mental trick that I like to teach, which is that imposter syndrome.

I mean, it's a psychological thing that happens when by definition, imposter syndrome is where you question your own credibility and expertise in a category where you do have. Credibility and expertise. And so there is something different of like actually being an imposter, like pretending like you have expertise where you don't have it, don't do that.

But we all struggle with imposter syndrome, everybody does. On um, the Great Creators podcast with Guy Roz, he was interviewing Tom Hanks and he was talking about his imposter syndrome and he is like the most, one of the most successful actors of all time. And you're like, I, you know, it's, we all deal with this.

So what I do as far as in an education business to overcome imposter syndrome is whenever you're talking, whenever you're teaching, I try to, this is a very subtle change, but it, for me, it's like a light [00:10:00] switch of don't teach from your experience teaching, teach from your experiences. In other words, when you're telling a story based on, okay, this one time I did this thing and here's what happened, or this one time I was working with a client and here's what happened, or this one time I read this book and here's what I learned.

The part of your brain that questions that. It goes silent because you're simply telling, you're simply sharing experiences of things that already happened in your life. Hmm. And it shuts down imposter syndrome. When you try to take all of that and you teach it as sort of like an aggregate where you say, you know, something like, an example of teaching from experience would be saying, well, I've run six figure course launches.

And actually I have run six figure course launches, multiple. But even when I say that, I kind of cringe a little. 'cause I'm like, well, not every course launch has done six figures and sometimes we paid $50,000 for ads. And you know, like my brain starts questioning all those things. But if I just say, if I pick a specific example, specific share that from experience is.

Of talking about, um, you know, specifically one of [00:11:00] this is not a six-figure course launch, but it's still a fun story, is that the first time I ever launched an online course in 2015, um, I made $10,000 in 10 days from an email list of 247 email subscribers. And it's like that, there's no part of me that doubts that 'cause that that's just true.

That's just, it happened. Yeah. And so being able to teach from experience is, Shuts down imposter syndrome and helps you speak with authority.

Akta: I love that. I love the, how you've kind of reframed it as well. Um, so for creators who, you know, they're in their educational niche and. They're confident with their knowledge and they feel like they've got credibility.

Where do they start with monetization? You know, like right now they're just creating content, building their audience. Yeah, but they haven't monetized. What's the best way to kind of make that switch into kind of actually building a

John: business? Yes. I'm so glad you asked this. Lemme tell you first where people usually start that I think is the most common trap where they fail.

Is to start from the bottom with a cheap, what I would call a gateway product. I mean, this is like a natural instinct that you're [00:12:00] like, I wanna tip my toe into monetization. So I'll create a little a $7 ebook and I'll see if people will buy it. Um, but what I've seen after coaching literally thousands through membership sites and courses, literally thousands of creators, Over the last decade, what I've seen is that this is the most common reason people fail, is they suffer death by a thousand eBooks.

They spend all their time and energy and money building a business around a product that doesn't make a lot of money. And even if they sell a thousand of those $7 eBooks, after a year of blood, sweat, and tears, which is a lot of books, they made $7,000 in a year. And it's not enough and they go broke or they burn out and they give up.

And so what I teach is actually the exact opposite of that, which is that you should start with your flagship product. This is a product which is typically between two to $10,000. Um, the first time you teach it, you're probably only working with five clients at a time. But when you do that, you raise the stakes for everyone.

That can't just be any product. You have to have a product that actually has a dramatic identity shifting impact on someone's life. And so it forces you to get [00:13:00] crystal clear on your target customer. 'cause whatever idea you had before, if I say, okay, now charge 'em $2,000, it causes your brain to move into a new category.

And so the serve call strategy that I recommended earlier or mentioned briefly, that's the only reason why it works, is because you're selling a flagship product that's. Typically my favorite type of flagship product is a group coaching program where you're taking five to 10 clients over maybe 60 to 90 days, um, meeting with them weekly to guide them towards some sort of goal.

Um, and so when you're doing that, that's something that you can sell it before you build it because you just use serve calls to validate the demand, to sell the offer, and then teach it live and build it as you go. And then now all of a sudden, from just a handful of clients, you can have a business that's paying you $10,000 a month.

From your flagship product before and funding your lifestyle before you've ever even touched gateway products or membership products. So those are the three core products that I recommend. In the long term, in the long run is that you build a flagship product, a gateway product, and a membership product and probably multiple gateway products.

But those three are all you [00:14:00] need. But most people build 'em at a sequence. Um, they save the flagship product for last. Um, and I think that's a mistake to give a real life example of this. Annette Chesney, who's, uh, one of my clients and now a certified coach in my program who helps out for several years building her blog, building her email list, selling workshops here and there, and doing okay.

But she heard me talk about this advice of. Selling a 2000 program. And she was kind of deer in the headlights about it because her, at the time, her brain was around, um, helping, you know, uh, I'm gonna paraphrase it, but it was essentially helping women have, have a breakthrough in their life. And it sounds good.

It's not a bad thing, but as soon as you try to create a 2000 program around that, you realize it's too vague, it's not specific enough. How do you attract multiple people into that program? And so just because she committed to charging a higher price point, it forced her to laser in and figure out, okay, who are the women that she's worked with over the years that she, that really are the people that she wants to go all in on serving.

And that she can design a program that's gonna be life changing and identity shifting [00:15:00] for them. And she realized that she, that there was this pattern of some of her, the women who she served over the years that had the most incredible case studies, women who are recovering from an, uh, narcissistic abuse in a previous relationship.

Often they were divorced, um, or they had some sort of longstanding relationship where there had been narcissistic abuse and they'd. They begin to really lose themselves. And so she redesigned her program. It's called Cinderella No More in this story. Cinderella Ella is actually her name. Cinder is the nickname they've attached to it.

'cause you kind of sticker in the ashes and it's about just like rediscovering yourself and recovering from narcissistic abuse to live your best life again. And when she did that, not only did she start selling a cohort program where she's got women. Sending her letters and messages saying how much she's like dramatically changed their lives for the better.

But now all of a sudden, that's such a magnetic promise that she had multiple different influencers who have huge audiences on Facebook reach out as soon as she started talking about it online and say, Hey, I'm doing a Facebook Live next week in front of 15,000 people. Can I interview you? [00:16:00] Wow. Or podcasts reaching out to her and saying like, Hey, can we have you on our, our show as a guest?

None of that kind of stuff happened before. She had that magnetic clarity, which came from focusing on a flagship product.

Akta: That's amazing. I love that. I love how clear she got. So once creators do get clear on, you know, who they're helping and what that transformation is, how do you go about building that program out?

You know, like making sure that you are. I guess offering enough value and you know, how long to do it over, like, do you know what I mean? Like how to structure the whole program? Yeah. How do you go about that?

John: Well, the wet clay that I usually start with, and I will say, I mean your program, there's a lot of flexibility here.

Um, and so the very. First thing you have to do if you're designing a flagship product is you have to commit to a 10 x promise. And it's essentially like what is the promise of your program that is radically, you know, it's a, it's a life. It requires a life altering identity shift for the person who's going through your program.

So that's the first thing. You have to have that first you're teaching then [00:17:00] towards that outcome. And so, like for example, my flagship program, it's called a six figure flagship Accelerator, but the name doesn't really matter. The promise is that I'll help you create and earn $10,000 per month from a flagship product of your own.

Now for most creators, that's a life-changing decision, not only for your brand, but for your bank account, um, for your lifestyle. And so I can only take on 10 clients at a time, but that's okay because it's a small percentage of my clients will ever buy that program. But everybody else who reads a blog post, reads a book, buys a course, they're still thinking about that goal, that milestone, that flag that I've placed, and that helps them get more results.

So come back. Come back to your core question though, of how do you structure the program. The wet clay that I like to start with is to say, let's design a program that's limited to five people over 60 days, where you're meeting with them once a week for 90 minutes and you're charging $2,000 each. Now, once you have that now, You do need to fill in the gaps of what are you actually teaching?

What are you doing? Right? But that's where the promise comes in. You need to then break down the promise of like, okay, there's really two parts to this. [00:18:00] What do they have to know and what do they have to do? Or what do they have to understand and what do they have to execute to accomplish the 10 x promise?

And that's why everything comes back to the promise. That's how you sell the program, but it's also how you design the program. Um, and so when I'm designing a program, I try to, it's kind of like a little bit of a pinging pong match. I do try to bounce back and forth between saying, okay. Let's teach them a concept they need to understand, but let's immediately go into an exercise they can do to help them actually execute on this.

It's not enough for someone to go through your program and just get a bunch of ideas we need to get, they need to get results. So that's how I structure the program. But when I do this, and I advise my clients as well, I. You need to have a rough outline of what you're gonna do to make sure, like you can actually, you know, teach towards the promise you can actually fulfill on that, but you don't have to have all the content done.

In fact, you shouldn't. You should really each week prepare that content so that as you're going through, because you're teaching towards an outcome, because you're teaching towards that promise, as you're going through the program week by week, you can see where people are getting stuck and you can fine tune and refine the program to help them meet that goal.

Mm-hmm. Once you've done [00:19:00] that several times, you can turn this into an on-demand. Sell while you sleep. Kind of, you know, a flagship program is more like a premium course or something like that. You could totally do that, but I think it's a mistake to go straight to creating recorded content. I think you should teach live first and get customer feedback on the spot, uh, because you'll create a better program.

Akta: That's really interesting. Yeah. So how much do you think is like teaching, you know, like, you know, with a course versus coaching in a program?

John: That's a good question. Um, I mean, I kind of. I think the reality is we've gotta think about, like, the whole idea of coaching is that you're leading someone towards a goal, a result.

Like if you're in a game and you're coaching athletes, uh, then you're coaching them towards, towards winning. And so, How much of that is spent talking versus li listening, giving assignments versus, you know, standing on the sidelines. There's, there's a lot of things that do differ, like niche by niche, coach by coach, but I think I wouldn't, I don't think of teaching as not coaching, but I do think of it essentially setting it up of saying like, okay, I'm gonna do this [00:20:00] concept.

If we're using sports as a metaphor, it's like, all right, I'm gonna teach you this specific play. I'm gonna teach you how it works now. I just need to try it, and I'm gonna create a version of this that you can try right now. That I can then give you feedback on so you can improve. Yeah. Um, so I mean, just in my program, so in like a 90 minute minute training, you know, uh, the first week or two I'll spend a, like the very, especially the first week, it's more like an hour of actual training and 30 minutes of q and a, but then after that it, it, it's the reverse.

It's typically that I'm teaching a core concept for about 30 minutes and we're spending the rest of the time implementing it fine tuning it, get, getting feedback, and helping people implement it. That's, I will say, that's now that I've. You know, had a little more experience with this. When I first started teaching, I was just teaching.

I thought that was the whole point of the business was just you just like say a bunch of stuff. I mean, I say that, I don't mean to like be pejorative about that. Like it was actually useful smart things to say, but I would have, I, my clients were getting results. Like I was getting testimonials at being saying like, wow, I learned so much.

But when I switched to making sure that I was bouncing back and forth between knowledge and [00:21:00] experience, understand and execute, then the results started being not just, Hey, I learned so much, but. John, I sent this literally last week. Someone was in the lab, um, which is a membership. I, I'm not gonna assume people know what that is, but that's where you and I connected.

Yeah. Um, but uh, just, you know, just yesterday in the lab, one of the people who went through one of my trainings was saying, I took one email that you helped me write. I sent it to my list. I got 400 replies that are now leads, uh, for my flagship program. And it's like, that's, that's not the same as just saying, wow, that was helpful.

That was useful. Yeah, that's like you're executing. Um, or clients that have, you know, I have one client who is a former engineer now full-time, runs his own group coaching programs, his own flagship program, um, and he now does over six figures per quarter. From his small group program. It's like, that's amazing.

Like those kind of results are way more exciting to me than someone just saying, that was really interesting. I learned a lot. Mm,

Akta: yeah, definitely. And let's deep dive into that actually. Like, okay. How do you bring in clients to [00:22:00] your program in the first place?

John: Oh, in my business or in general? Like whatever.

Just in general, like

Akta: what do you find works well?

John: Well, um, I mean obviously we've already established you gotta have clear on who your target customer is and then you have to talk to them. Um, and I think a lot of people overcomplicate this. Uh, I know it's, it's kind of like hip and cool to build a big social media following to build a huge email list and all that kind of stuff.

And I'm not a host to those things, but I do think they get too much. Attention and focus, especially when a business is not really validated or like monetized. Like, you know, you're not that. If you're building a business, you should start with products from the start. If my friend, I mean I have two friends who own a coffee roasting company.

They just opened a new location for their cafe. It's beautiful. But they just did this great bigger and opening a couple days ago. If they had done this big grand opening and said, Hey, we're in our new location. We spend months doing this, build out. It's beautiful. There's so it just come, check it out. And we showed up and said, oh my gosh, this is awesome.

I'm here. Can I get some coffee? And if they said, oh, no, no, no, sorry, I. [00:23:00] We're waiting till our audience is big enough to start monetizing and then we're gonna sell coffee. So true.

Akta: Yeah. I love that.

John: Yeah. They would've lost, everyone would've just like looked at like, are you crazy? Like, what are doing here?

And so I would actually trust them less because they weren't selling. 'cause now I'm like, well, why am I here? Like, I feel like, what, what are we here for? And so, so I'm definitely a fan of starting from the gate with monetization because it's just part of any business. It's just, it's honest. Um, The way that I recommend you do that is start with a flagship product that you're selling directly on serve calls, which means you need five or 10 people to talk to, to start creating your program and selling it.

Um, and I like the client I mentioned earlier who now does over six figures per quarter from his program. Last time I asked, I think he had 800 email subscribers, which by most people's metrics would be a very small number. But he's generating a very healthy living for his family, from his business as a creator.

He just created a new website, so he's kind of getting into that. Like all the stuff that we normally people start with, it's like, okay, now, yeah, [00:24:00] sure. Now it's time for a website. Maybe he'll launch a podcast like now that he's already generating amazing from his business. Yeah.

Akta: That's incredible. And then what you, you've said to start off with the flagship kind of program.

Yeah. How should that evolve over time? I mean, 'cause I'm thinking of like Ali Abdal, like he had his live cohort, P T Y A. Yeah. And now that's turned into like self-directed course instead. Totally. Is that like a normal progression for programs or like what, what do you find is quite common?

John: Yeah, it is a normal progression.

I think. I mean, obviously there's some examples of people who came out of the gate with on-demand course type content. Like if you think about, uh, Marie Folia with B-School or Amy Porterfield with Digital Course Academy, um, these like $2,000 courses essentially. Um, and that's one business bottle that can work.

I just think it's high risk and so that's why I recommend you start with a live program. 'cause you can refine it as you go. It gives you more chances to succeed. Hmm. Um, but in terms of the evolution of it, Yes, I, now, what [00:25:00] I've done, what I'm doing in my business is I've committed to teaching a version of this live four times a year.

So once a quarter limited to 10 clients. And I don't, I don't really see that changing, but that's not something that's scalable either. Like I could maybe choose to do multiple cohorts, but I'm just saying, hey, one cohort of 10 people who each paying $10,000 once a quarter. That's my core flagship program.

Um, Then otherwise I'm creating on-demand products. One of the most common things I see right now's working is to take a group coaching program and then turn it into a one day event. You can't teach the whole thing like you, so my program for example, it's, you know, it's a 90 day program. It's pretty intense.

There's a lot we get into in terms of sales and marketing and you know, creating a product and selling a product. But I looked at that and I said, okay, what's the 20% of what I'm teaching here that drives 80% of results for people? I turned that into a program called Go Coach Bootcamp. And so that's a one day, six hour workshop that's, there's 20 people at a time that can come to that.

And in September I'm teaching two because it's the first one sold [00:26:00] out. And so that's a program which I can teach for a much more affordable cost to a much group, uh, bigger audience of people that teaches a lot of the same stuff in one day. Uh, it's a very packed day. But then I've also got on-demand versions now of group Coach Bootcamp, as well as a new, uh, video course I'm coming out with called The Cellular Smarts Masterclass.

And that's, that's a pretty common model, I think is having course like elements. But I will say out of the big courses that are, that are just all on demand, like I don't know about Ollie of Dolls, I don't know how, what is completion rate is, but I know some of the, over the last decade, some of the bigger, more financially successful courses like Digital Growth Academy and B-School or Gates and thousand subscribers from Brian Harris.

Their completion rate is really small. It's like 10% Oh wow. Of people who like finished the course. And so as when you're focusing on prioritizing results in your business and not just revenue for you, but results for your clients, like that's not a good completion rate. That's horrible. Um, and so I think.

At this point, I'm a [00:27:00] fan of taking some of the concepts out of a flagship program and creating small bite-sized courses that teach some of those core concepts in small ways, but I just don't, or maybe creating a membership model where you're teaching some of the stuff on an ongoing basis. I mean, that is a core part of what I've done and a lot of my clients have done is have a membership.

I. Product as well. But I just, I don't, I don't see a lot of success anymore with the giant courses of like, I'm gonna teach you everything you know about this topic, and it's gonna be massive, it's gonna be expensive, there's gonna be 35 hours of content. Like I just, I haven't seen either cli uh, like dramatic client results.

Or completion rates. Um, there's been good revenue for the creators behind them, and I don't think anyone ever, I think for the most part people have been, have really, really good intentions with this. Um, so I'm not trying to say anyone, like could we, someone, but I think the reality is that the completion rates are so low and even the amazing testimonials that these people have.

You think, wait a minute, they had like a thousand people go through this course and they've got like 10 really great testimonials. That's that good math. And so I'm [00:28:00] just trying to improve the success rate, not only for me, but for my clients and for my, in that case, for my clients'. Clients because everybody I'm teaching is also a teacher.

Yeah. Um, but uh, yeah, so that's, I mean, that's my take on it, is that I think you can do an on man version, but honestly, typically that's better. Like Justin Welsh is a great example of, he's had longer, he was just talking about this on his newsletter he's had. Longer courses in the past, but now he generates over a million dollars a year from two courses, which are each like a 90 minute video class.

And people get, and he's got hundreds of testimonials for each of them. 'cause it's like it's bite size, it's actionable. It gets you results. Yeah. And um, I think he could, if he wanted to roll out a high ticket, good coaching program, um, and he could take. 10, maybe 15 people through at a time and add another million dollars a year to his business if he needs to.

Um, just serving those people in that form and fashion and really, um, you know, mentoring them in that way, but, He likes not doing that, and that's fine.

Akta: He's doing fine. Yeah. [00:29:00] And so once you have built your, you know, like flagship product and it's doing well, how do you decide, you know, what the smaller products, I guess, to add to your business model?

John: Well, this is why I think the surf call strategy is so important because the, you just go back to your notes because the reality is if you're consistently asking people, okay, what are the results that you're trying to achieve and what are the roadblocks in your way? Um, and if you're consistently asking those questions, then you have tons of notes from every single one of those meetings.

And it, the answer is not always your flagship product. Sometimes you can, sometimes the, the answer is your flagship product and then someone buys on the spot. Um, but sometimes it's not, and then that's where you can go back to those notes and say, okay, I can help you achieve this result without this roadblock.

And you've just got a list of product ideas. Now that's a cool thing that, I mean, this is why in general, I'm a fan of interviewing your customers and market research, but the problem is when you're selling a hundred dollars online course or a $7 ebook, doing customer interviews to sell those products just doesn't make [00:30:00] sense.

The math does not, it's not worth, it's not a good use of your time. And so that's why I designed the surf call so that you can get market, you can get paid to do market research to sell your flagship program, but then you can repurpose that exact same market research to design every single gateway product.

So that's, I mean, I guess that that's the, that's how I think about it. Um, and the goal, I will say, whereas a flagship product has a 10 x promise at the core of it, which is this light up, life changing, identity shifting, like promise of what the program could do for someone. By contrast, a gateway product, the most successful that I've seen, have a 10 percenter promise attached to it.

Some sort of promise that offers someone in incremental, gradual. Uh, changes in their life if I'm a fitness coach, which I'm not, but if I was, you know, it's the difference between selling, um, you know, uh, selling a $50 course that's gonna help you lose 50 pounds. Not you, but just the general you. Um, but like, maybe a better, yeah, let's back up for a second.

Maybe I'm selling a $5 ebook that's [00:31:00] gonna help you lose five pounds in the next five days. That's a 10% promise. It's not a bad thing. It's like, oh, that's okay. Cool. Like what are something I can do in the next five days to live five pounds? That's interesting. Yeah. If I'm interested in weight loss, like that's attractive to me.

It's also not threatening. And so it's a great way to get someone to become a customer for the first time when they're not ready for a total life commitment. Sure. But if I've got, if I've gotten a flagship program that's, you know, called like, you know, it's called uh, six Pack Abs. You know, club or something like that.

Like the promise is baked into that of like, if you want six pack apps, then uh, that's a different promise. But for most people, honestly, it's not even price that's gonna keep them outta their program. It's just their own thought of like, well, I'm not ready for like that kind of transformation. I don't have, I don't have a six pack.

I have a cake. And so I'd rather lose five pounds. Yeah,

Akta: I love that. And how do you, what advice do you give to your clients on how to price? Because you mentioned for flagship products you mm-hmm. You know, it's like two, [00:32:00] $2,000 to 10,000 bus. Quite a big range. So how do you know where to where you fit

John: in?

Well, I mean, honestly, even my clients who have, um, As far as how you know where you fit in, I mean, I recommend for your first court cohort, pretty much always, I recommend selling it for $2,000 and five people going through it because that's, first of all, it's a meaningful amount of money for you. 'cause there's $10,000 that you can earn from that first cohort.

Now all of a sudden, you're a sold out coach. That makes it a lot easier for you to sell your next program just from an authority and credibility standpoint, but it's also gives you, you essentially, you're getting paid $10,000 to build your program and coach these people and get testimonials, which then gives you a better idea of what is the value to them of this transformation.

Now, if you're selling a product where you can put a financial value on this for them, then I recommend that you charge about. Uh, one 10th of the value. So if I can help someone earn a hundred thousand dollars in my flagship program, then I feel really good selling [00:33:00] $10,000 and it's a win-win for everybody or charging it $10,000.

It's a win-win for everybody. If you're not selling a program that helps someone either save money or earn money, then it's, you can still do the math. It just takes a few extra steps to get clear on like, okay, this impact, what is this impact having in their life? You know, where is this? What is that financially worth?

And some of that does require a little bit of, you know, creative math. Um, but in general, I'm a fan of. Of, of charging one 10th of the value. I just think that it, it leaves people happy. Um, if I, you know, if you give me $5, if you gimme $5 and I give you $5 back, there's no emotion attached that it's like, it's just sort of this confusing thing of like, why did we even do that?

Like we just wasted time. Mm-hmm. Um, and so that's, but if you give me $5, I give you $50 back, you walk away happy. So that's why I do try to, I do try to design programs that give the value that's, you know, 10 times what someone's charging. And I think that just while it is a rule of thumb and so it's, you know, it's hard to get that right.

Yeah. [00:34:00] It's, it's, it's a big enough gap that it, it kind of forces your thinking to create something that's really valuable, um, that creates raving fans.

Akta: And aside from delivering on a promise, is there anything else that educational creators should do? To kind of make their clients feel like they're getting their money's worth or getting enough value?

Or is it just purely delivering on that transformation?

John: Uh, yeah. I mean, I think it's just so much delivering on transformation. I think, you know, the reality is as a society, the age of information we've left the age of information, we're into this, what, what's called the Age of insight. This is a term that the World Economic Forum came out in 2020 when everybody was very distracted and said, Hey, the age of information just ended By the way, the, our whole like, My whole life.

Your whole life has been the age of information. And it's now the Age of Insight. What does that mean? Oh, well, I wrote a book on it. It's called Survive and Thrive, if you wanna go deeper. But the summary version is that success and value of the last 30 or 40 years was dependent upon, I have some sort of information, some sort of data, [00:35:00] some sort of secret that I'm giving to you.

And because of giving you this information, that's valuable. And that's because before the internet and before, before social media, most of the secrets and insights of the world were just sitting locked in desks or behind closed doors. But with the shift gradually what happened was is as the age of information became more and more prevalent, you and I became more and more overwhelmed with information.

And so now whatever question you have, you go to the Google, you put it in there, and you have millions or billions of possible answers to that question. And so we don't need more information. We don't it true. We don't want, we spend most of our energy ignoring notifications, emails, social media posts, just ignoring information.

And so what we do need though, is we need insight. Now, insight is information that's been filtered by expertise. Mm. And so that's why it's so important to get clear on this area of where you're focusing your time and energy, because your job is not to tell someone, okay, here's a hundred ways. Going back to the six pack abs.

Your goal, if yet, if you're having a program that's helping give someone [00:36:00] six pack abs. Your goal is not to tell them. Okay. Let's talk about the history of physiology, how the, you know, 117 muscles work in your body, and let's talk about the 35 different ways that you can lose weight and gain muscle. No, I don't want that.

I wanna know what are the three things I need to do to get six pack ab And that can only come from insight. That can only come from experience. And so that's why the age of insight is such a critical shift. So I would say yes. The first thing of like, you have to deliver on the promise, but that's how you do it, is you get clear on not what information you're giving people, but what insight, how can you filter the information, give them as little information as possible that they need to achieve the outcome.

Yeah. And that's gonna help them.

Akta: Amazing. I love that. I love that. Um, reframing of how you are delivering knowledge from like, information to insight, because you're right, there's just information overload on the internet. Yes. Um, I'm gonna end now with a quick fire round. Okay. So I'm gonna ask you five questions I ask every creator that comes on air, starting with what's your favorite thing about being an educational creator?

John: My [00:37:00] favorite thing is honestly the success of my students. I mean, this is like, you're hit, you're catching me on. I got a, I got a high moment 'cause um, I had a, a suit send last night. Send a message to our group and apologize because he was like, I feel like I was like too excited on our coaching call yesterday.

They're like, I'm getting wins. And like, was I bragging? I'm so sorry. Like, I'm achieving all kinds of success that I haven't had in a year. And everyone was just chiming in and be like, no, we love it. And like, I just, I love that. I just, um, yeah, I mean, I love that. My business, you know, supports my family and my lifestyle.

I've got four kids. Wow. But it, I also love beyond that, you know, the impact I'm able to have on other people's

Akta: lives. That's amazing. And what's something that gives you the most inspiration for what you create?

John: It's when I think about the brilliant expert that has spent the last decade behind closed doors, helping people one-on-one, um, who has.

Maxed out calendar, no way to help anyone else and has no plan to share their insight beyond those closed doors. That keeps me moving, keeps me inspired to help people turn their wisdom into wealth. Because when those people [00:38:00] die or retire and that information dies with them, all the rest of us are less left grasping in the dark.


Akta: That's very interesting. That's very true. Um, what's one tool that helps you as a creator?

John: Notion. I use notion for everything now. I just wish, like literally today I'm flipping the switch. My website is now powered by Notion too. Oh, no way. So I've made full

Akta: conversion. Yes. Crazy. And what's something that helps you with your creator work-life balance?

John: Um, uh, I work Monday through Friday, nine to five. I. Mean, I've got the laptop lifestyle, but I Oh, crazy. Yeah. Yes. I've got the laptop lifestyle. I could live anywhere in the world. We just got back from nine months in Puerto Rico, so we do like travel and do other things. Um, but I bike right now. I bike 1.4 miles from my house to my office Monday through Friday, nine to five.

I have set hours, set time, and there's the best possible thing I could do. Yeah. To,

Akta: for my work life balance. No, that's good that you treat it like a job and then have your life outside of it. That makes sense. Yeah. And what's one piece of advice that you'd give to other creators? I.

John: Serve, [00:39:00] just focus on solving, creating a real solution to a real problem for real people.

And every time you get stuck in your business thinking like, how can I make more revenue? Or How can I get more attention? Get, get really clear on shifting your focus to the problems that currently exist that need to be solved. I. That will help unlock a lot of insight for you.

Akta: Amazing. Thank you so much, John, for coming on air.

I feel like this was such a great conversation for especially educational races, but even I feel like you've really helped me personally to like have that shift of actually you can monetize a lot earlier. So yeah. Thank you so much for inspiring our audience on that. Oh, it's my pleasure. Amazing. Thank you so much.

You can find John on his website, and if you want to know more about turning your wisdom into wealth, check out John's free. Sell Your Smarts Crash course, and if you are a creator and you offer sponsorships, check out Passionfroot. We help you to streamline your entire workflow. I'll see you in the next one.