Alan Perlman of UAV Coach is a blogger, entrepreneur, and online course creator. Alan teaches people how to safely and legally fly their UAV's, or as you may better know them: drones.
Alan found an eager audience and a demand for drone schooling, and with that he started a successful business. Within 72 hours of his first online course launch he had made $6000 and has since been able to leave his job to work on UAV Coach full time.
Here's what he has to say...
How did you decide to create an online course?
It happened out of necessity. I started UAV Coach at the end of 2014, started reading a lot about the drone industry, building my business, and talking to a lot of the people on the phone trying to understand why they were on my website and what they were looking for.
I heard over and over again, “I need training."
The FAA hadn’t yet come out with a drone certification program and other courses cost 3500 bucks. People didn’t want to do that, they just wanted me to teach them how to fly.
That’s when I realized that there might be an opportunity for a course.
How did you grow your email list?
At the end of the day, just pressing publish over and over and over again. On blog posts, on ebooks, on long form guides.
I did do a lot of search engine optimization. With where the drone industry was at in 2014 I looked at the Google trends and did basic keyword research.
I saw keywords like, “How to fly a quad copter” or “Drone laws in the US.”
Some of them only had 30 searches every month, or three or four hundred. It’s not like there was a keyword that had 20,000 people searching for it each month and you know, I wrote a post and instantly ranked for it.
Just trying to create optimized content around certain keywords, and that helped with a lot of our traffic. We went from 0 visits to 3000 visits a month in the first few months.
Just publishing the right content and sharing it, promoting it on social media. I also ran some Facebook ads that brought in a lot of leads initially.
How did you narrow down your course topic?
I created a survey. It said, “Here are 11 different topics we are thinking about doing - what matters to you the most?” Everyone checked rules and regulations so I thought, “OK, I’m going to create a module on rules and regulation.
What did your course creation process look like?
I did create all of the content ahead of the time. I thought about dripping it out and maybe doing one week at a time, but with my schedule and state of mind I decided to block off 72 hours and shoot version 0.001 of the course and get it out there and put it behind a payment wall.
What tools did you invest in?
A $20 powerpoint presentation, a Blue Yeti microphone, I paid for screencasting software - Camtasia - I think that was $30 or $40. I also paid for iMovie, I ended up using something else, but iMovie is $13 or $14. Not that much, less than $500.
Now for version 2.0 of the course, I hired a professional videographer. I had the confidence to do that because I had paying students and I forecasted what the revenue was going to look like.
I said, “You know what? I’ve got 2 grand to spend. I’m going to do it. I’m going to meet with him and make this course so much better than what it was.”
That was a whole separate process. For your first course, you do not need to do that.
What did your launch look like?
My first launch was fairly simple. I had an email list and I made a checklist for everything I wanted to do for the product launch, so write a blog post about the course that served as the course landing page that would push people to the landing page.
I thought about the different areas that I had people’s attention and brought them to the Teachable sales page.
I did do an email launch sequence and I created a sense of urgency. The original course is priced at $89 and I did 30 or 40% off for the first five or six days.
I did maybe four or five emails - one a day leading up to that Friday at midnight deadline. I made a really big deal saying, “Never again will you get the course this cheap.”
That’s where most of the sales came from - my email list. I tried a bunch of different things but the email list was the best sales funnel for sure.
What were the results?
In the first 72 hours of the first email that was sent, I think we had 5 or 6 thousand dollars of course revenue. I was hoping for that in like two months. For me, it was much less about the money and more about the market validation that people are willing to purchase online training in the drone industry.
That was such a weight off of my shoulders because once I saw those numbers coming in, I thought, “OK, if they’re ok with version 0.001 of a course, I really need to double down and become an educator and devote myself to this industry.”
I couldn’t break through that limiting belief until I saw those numbers coming through. That first 72 hours was very exciting.
Any advice for future course creators?
That concept of production versus conception is really important. It’s so easy to wake up in the morning and read blog posts all day. It’s really easy to watch videos all day. To consume all of this information.
But if at the end of the day if you’re not sitting down and putting pen to paper or sitting down and closing down gmail, turning off your phone, and typing for an hour - you’re not going to be a course creator. You have to sit down and get the work done.
It’s really really tough - it’s a numbers game.
It’s like going to the gym - I pay Teachable $99 a month right now and it’s like a gym membership. If I don’t work out I’m not going to get the results, right?
There are “personal trainers” you can hire - you can hire a business consultant to help you with things, but at the end of the day you’ve got to lace your shoes up, leave your apartment, and GSD - get stuff done.
I think that’s been my biggest takeaway and it’s something that I struggle with every single day. There is a constant voice in the back of my head saying, “Stop reading, start doing!”