A Quick Guide to Systems, Automation, Basic E-mail Marketing, and Staying Sane

As an entrepreneur or someone who’s trying to get their business off the ground, there’s always a billion things you could be doing.

In fact, sometimes you feel like you’re going insane or you have so much stress you might not be able to handle it.

You need to be consistent with content, engage with your customers, collect emails, sell your product, and the list goes on.… ARRRRG.

On top of everything else, I know you’ve invested a lot into ensuring that your course does well.

You’ve put in a ton of work, done your research, created the product, and are solving a specific pain point for your audience.

Now how do you get the people who come to your site to know about your product and sell them on it?

…Or maybe you’ve already tried this and found that nobody bought it?

You see this happened to me with my course, and I know why…


 I didn’t have the proper systems set up.

To take full advantage of the power of online content creation and marketing, you need to create systems so you can continue engaging with customers, selling, and making money while you devote your time to other, more pertinent tasks.

I’ve also made the mistake of trying to handle and control everything, which is what Chris Ducker calls “superhero syndrome”.superhero_syndrome_quote.png

Source: ChrisDucker.com

I’m here to tell you that if you don’t systemize or outsource parts of your business, you’re going to have to put in some late nights… A LOT of late nights. I don’t want that to happen to you.

Once you create automation systems, you can focus on actually ENJOYING creating content, as the automation systems we create handle the gears of turning readers into customers.

Here’s the main question you’re going to learn the answer to: Someone has come to your main website... Now:

How do you systemize turning them into a customer for your online course without micro-managing every detail, losing sleep, and ripping your hair out?

Here’s What You’re Going To Learn in this Article

In this article, we’re going to start from your online presence (blog, podcast, etc.), talk about email marketing, and more.

This is what I’m working on now for my own brand and what I wish I had set in place before I launched my Teachable course.

I’m hoping that you’ll learn from my mistakes!

Here’s an overview of what we’re going to cover:

  • How to systemize content creation and editing (to get people interested and find out what they like) and why you need to do it.
  • How to turn people who consume your content into potential (and hopefully actual) customers using automated selling processes, email marketing, and software integration within the Teachable platform.
  • The #1 way to attract an audience and get them to give you their emails (the start of the sales process). Hint: it’s not the “free offer” in your sidebar anymore.
  • The importance of creating a smaller tripwire product (that’s less then $10) leading into selling your more expensive Teachable course.
  • The power of email marketing - something I missed out on early in my blogging career.
  • You’ll also get templates to use for:
    • A job description to hire a general virtual assistant to manage your blog.
    • A surprisingly basic email that gets tons of replies so you can find out what your subscribers want and will pay you $$$ for.
    • Auto-responder emails you can use to create your own follow-up email series to sell your course (via links in the post to the series I’ve set up on my site: Rip off all my stuff, do it!).

Let’s get into it!

How to Create “The Machine”

The entire point of having an online business is to use automation and systems to create a self-sustaining marketing machine so you keep creating new awesome content and grow your list of interested buyers.

This first REALLY hit home for me when I started outsourcing tasks that I theoretically could do, but someone else could do better while I focused my energy on my “genius zone”.

These are tasks that only I could do, or things I felt I was put on this Earth to do.

The second time this all came together was after reading material from Digital Marketer where they talk all about creating “The Machine”:

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.
Source: Digital Marketer

There are different terms here, but basically, this graphic shows how to connect your online presence to your products using email marketing.

A lot of what I’ll be talking to you about comes from their course The Machine, and book Invisible Selling Machine. I highly suggest you check both out!

ASSUMPTION: We’re only going to talk about traffic coming to your own online presence (blog, podcast, YouTube, etc.). Other forms of traffic (paid traffic, SEO, social media, etc.) are beyond the scope of this article but there are many great resources you can find with a quick Google search.

Here are the steps to follow to create your own machine:

Step 1. Systemize content creation on your online platform

You are a content creator. You got into this to create things that you think are important to your audience.

Without new content, you have no idea what your readers, watchers, or potential customers are interested in.

Without new content, your online presence will die.

Pick a form of content and be consistent with your publishing dates: Blog articles, podcasts, YouTube videos, whatever.

Skipping a publish date one time is OK, but don’t let it go on for months… Something I’m guilty of when I had to step off the business to focus on other things, and I know many others are guilty of as well.

No content = no engagement = no customers = no idea what anyone wants = no money for you.

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

You can see that Teachable publishes a blog post every Thursday and a featured Change Maker ever Friday!

You could outsource or ghost-create a bit of this, or have a rough outline for someone else to fill in.

It’s up to you how much you want to stay tied to your company/brand, and how much creating you want to be a part of.

Personally though, I want to do all my creating and writing because it’s a passion of mine. What I DON’T want to do is the formatting and editing for my posts, but I'll get into that in Step 2…

Action Steps:

  • Determine how often you want to be posting online, e.g., daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc. I’ve found that weekly posting is best, so that you don’t overwhelm your audience, you have time to write quality content, and you’re still keeping in touch with everyone and providing value.
  • My main form of content is writing so that’s what I know best. Personally, I set a daily writing amount e.g. 500 words, 30 minutes, etc. and commit to doing it every single day.
  • If you don’t think you can hold yourself to this, find an accountability partner or Mastermind group. Send them $100 and tell them you don’t get your money back if you fail to publish or create your content.

Step 2. Systemize your content editing and posting

You might have been confused when I said I liked to create and write my own content, but don’t like to edit it, let me explain.

I create my content, but that doesn’t mean I want to spend time formatting it, finding stock pictures, playing with headers, and determining SEO keywords.

If you’re not passionate about the behind the scenes work that comes with blogging, you should not be focusing your time there.

In fact, spending a ton of time editing might just be your own sneaky way of avoidance and perfectionism in releasing it (“Oh, I need to make it better, it’s not done yet.”)

These tasks can also add up to A LOT of time that could be used instead to write a new book, talk to a coaching client, or do an interview.

Even if you’re bootstrapping and don’t want to spend a lot of money, this is one thing I highly recommend outsourcing.

I didn’t even realize I could outsource the work that I didn’t want to do (or shouldn’t spend my time on) until I had some experience with virtual assistants (VAs) at an apprenticeship and from reading Virtual Freedom.

After making the realization that I needed to be delegating certain tasks, I committed to hiring a virtual assistant and found the perfect person on UpWork.

Action Steps:

  • Understand your editing process so you can give clear instructions to someone else. You must learn what to do first before outsourcing, so you can ensure that it’s being done properly.
  • Create a standard operating procedure document (SOP) for how you want your content edited. Here you list the exact steps that someone who has never done this before will need to follow. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be complete. You can reference the Teachable Blog Editorial Guidelines:

    Learn how to passively sell your course with automation.
  • Go on upwork.com and post a job looking for a General VA
  • Here’s the job description I posted:

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

  • Hire a general VA. I can tell you for blog post drafting it should take about 2 hours (for a post less than 2,000 words) which includes: finding pictures, SEO, bolding/italicizing, basic editing, etc.
  • You will still need to give the final post a once over to check that everything looks right, but you’ve now shaved off hours of work to maybe 10-20 minutes :).

Noam Lightstone shares this quick guide to systems, automation, basic e-mail marketing, and staying sane with an online course. Click to read his 6-step process & get all his action steps now.

Step 3. Make your blog posts and content do work for you: Here’s the best way to get email subscribers

If your content isn’t doing work for you and it isn’t leading people to your email list or to buy your products, it’s not doing what it should.

Want to know how to increase your email capture conversions by 785% in one day?

Use content upgrades to give your readers something in exchange for their emails. That’s what Brian Dean at Backlinko did to increase his email captures.

You know those free course/sidebar opt-in things? They aren’t working as well as they used to.

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

Source: Backlinko

People are tired of seeing those offers.

But there is something else that’s working really well and it’s called the content upgrade.

People come to your content to get a problem solved or to be entertained, so offering some generic giveaway that’s unrelated to the post that brought them to your site won't get them excited.

But if you give them something directly related to what they’re looking at and it’s useful to them in the moment they’ll gladly give you their emails.

A content upgrade is a form of a lead magnet, which gets people to give you their email, and it’s valuable because once a reader is on your email list you can market to them and encourage them to buy your product down the line.

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

If you don’t have content upgrades on your most popular content YOU ARE MISSING OUT and need to get on fixing that ASAP.

Action Steps:

  • Use Google Analytics to find your most popular content.
  • Create a useful content upgrade that people coming to see these popular pieces of content want, e.g., a checklist, small report, transcript of a podcast, etc.
  • Create two opt-in boxes/areas for the content upgrade: One at the top highlighted in a yellow/bright colored box, and one at the bottom as you can see in this article of mine.

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

  • Segment your subscribers so you know which blog post/piece of content they came from. This will help you run your email marketing more effectively, as just getting people on a general list isn’t useful. Some might come to a site about internet marketing signing up to learn about social media, but don’t really care as much about an article you also wrote about increasing productivity. You want to be specific.
  • Continuously check Google Analytics to see if it’d be worth creating upgrades for other items periodically.

Now it’s time to start making money and leading your readers into your Teachable course.

Step 4. You have email subscribers segmented to a specific interest. Put them into a relevant email series, leading them to buy a small product.

A big mistake I made was expecting unconverted subscribers and general people just to buy a course right away on sale for $100, even before buying something that was $1.

Turning a reader into a paying customer is an essential step. Once they psychologically cross the barrier from just being a consumer to being a paying customer, something shifts in their mind and they’re more willing to buy other things from you.

You create a “yes ladder” by first getting a potential customer to give their email, then buying a smaller product of yours, then buying your bigger product (your Teachable course).

This is what’s known as a tripwire. Your small product should be something less than $10, like a small report or book that solves a problem.

You then need to create an automated email series so that when people sign up after your content upgrade or lead magnet, they’re put into an auto-responder series that sends them into buying your tripwire or directs them to your tripwire’s sales page.

Action Steps:

  • If you don’t know the pain points of your customers already, send an email to people on your segmented list from your content upgrade. Here is an example of a survey email from Jeff Walker:
    Learn how to passively sell your course using automation
  • After you get the pain points, decide on a small report/product you can make to solve one of these.
  • Create the product.
  • Sign-up for or purchase automation capabilities (being able to automatically send emails once someone signs up with you) with your email service provider if you don’t already have it. Mailchimp doesn’t come with this in the free version, but it’s worth it.
  • If you don’t know how, you can search your mail provider and automation to find out how to set up an email series.
  • Write your email series. There are plenty of examples around, just Google “email series swipe file.” Here are some ideas if you need to get started.
  • Set up your automation steps so that when people get added to the lead magnet segmented list, they get these emails at set up durations (e.g., 1 day after the next, 3 days after…).

The point is that they’ll be lead to buy the relevant product that solves a pain point directly related to what they originally came to your site for.

Step 5. Set up tripwire delivery, and make it so that when someone buys your tripwire they are automatically added to another segmented list.

Most tripwires are small PDF guides, podcast transcripts, and things like that.

The best service to deliver them is E-Junkie: It’s fast, easy to use, and extremely cheap ($5 a month if you only have a few products). It even comes with a free trial.

You can integrate E-Junkie with your email service provider so that buyers get added to a new segmented list!

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

Action Steps:

  • After creating your tripwire, set it up so it can be purchased using E-junkie.
  • Set up the auto-add to list function following the instructions for your email service provider:
    • Instructions for Mailchimp are here.
    • Instructions for Aweber are here.
    • Instructions for ConvertKit are here (requires Zapier).

Step 6. Once someone buys your tripwire, put them into another email series that leads them into buying your Teachable course.

Assuming your content consumer has now become a paying customer, they’re now primed to pay for your higher priced course.

All you have to do is set up another email series so they get lead into buying it.

They like your content, they’ve gotten free things, and they’ve even paid for something…

Now it’s time to offer them something more!

You can then integrate Teachable with your email service provider, so that people who purchase your course are added to another segmented list…

I think you see the pattern now. ;)

How to set up systems that will help you sell your course while you sleep - strategy and examples.

Action Steps:

  • Write another email series leading from the tripwire purchase to course purchase.
  • BIG HINT: People and basic sales psychology don’t change. Internet marketers have crafted tons of emails for selling things. The best way to figure out what works is to stand on the shoulders of giants: Sign up for an email series of someone in your field and see what they have that’s working for them. Note: This doesn’t mean copy and paste, but you should use it as inspiration. What’s the overall outline, general flow, how are they speaking to the reader?
  • Set up another automation step so once people buy the product, they are added to a new segment and receive your new email series.
  • Purchase a subscription for Zapier and set up Teachable integration to add people who actually buy your course to another segmented list. See Teachable’s instructions here.

Final Thoughts

Phew, that was a lot! Still with me?

After this final step you can even offer people more content — add-ons to your course, homework sheets, coaching, and more!

This entire process will require a ton of tweaking and optimization to get the highest conversions, but that’s the awesome power of the internet — you can change and test anything and everything almost instantly.

This might all seem overwhelming, and I know it did to me at the start…

But the point is to just get started so that you have some basic systems in place:

You are constantly creating content, and you have systems that automatically sell for you.

By doing this you are removing yourself from the selling process so you can focus on creating the life-changing content your subscribers want and need…

And you’re also saving yourself from burn-out and stress ;). To see this all put together, check out an example of all the steps of The Machine implemented over here.

Did you find this post helpful? Read more of Noam's work on his website, Light Way Of Thinking!

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Noam Lightstone

Written by Noam Lightstone

Noam Lightstone is a patented inventor, Master's graduate, digital nomad, and #1 bestselling author who founded Light Way Of Thinking, an online resource dedicated to providing you with actionable advice and tools for dealing with situations you face that cause stress and anxiety. Noam also writes for other resources, like Lifehack and Location 180.