[00:00:00] Corey Winter:
Hey there bosses Corey from the Being Boss team here, I'm popping into let you know about a new way for you to stay up-to-date in the world as a creative entrepreneur, Brewed. Brewed is a weekly email curated by the Being Boss team just for you. We share articles, podcasts, and resources from around the internet on the topics of mindset, money and productivity to help
[00:00:21] you show up and do the work in your business. Learn more and sign up for free at beingboss.club/brewed. That's beingboss.club/B R E W E D.
[00:00:37] Emily Thompson: Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creatives, business owners and entrepreneurs who wanted to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson. And today I'm joined by Spencer Fry, founder of Podia a platform for selling digital products, frequent sponsor of us here at Being Boss to chat with me about what's up these days with online courses and what you need to know as a course creator in 2022.
[00:01:03] Just to know that this episode is not sponsored by Podia. I just invited Spencer to talk about courses because he's the expert who's going to share all the goods. You can find all the tools, books, and links we reference on the show notes at www.beingboss.club. And if you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe to the show and share us with a friend.
[00:01:26] Sometimes seeing someone else's path to success helps us clearly map out our own. It's why we all like a business podcast. Right? Well, I'm here to share a show for you to check out the Female Startup Club podcast, an amazing resource that shares insights and learnings from the world's most successful female founders, entrepreneurs, and women in business.
[00:01:48] And a recent episode. I loved hearing about how Michelle Grant, the founder of lively, the lingerie and swimwear brand built and sold her company for $105 million in just three years, total boss move. So if you're looking for a new pod to inspire your next steps, listen to the female startup club podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:02:17] Hello, bosses and happy new year around here. The publishing of this episode marks the completion of our seventh year of sharing in this podcast with you and the entrance into our eight, which totally blows me away. I am so grateful to all of you listeners for continuing to show up here and in the Being Boss community, and most importantly, for continuing to show up
[00:02:40] in your own businesses to blaze this trail of creative entrepreneurship, you should definitely know that I am so excited to be marching right into this eighth year of this show and am more excited about some of the goodies that we have coming for you in the next couple of months, starting with today's episode.[00:03:00]
[00:03:00] As we dive into this new year, I wanted to kick us off with some of the most helpful content I could imagine to get you going right here in January. So the team and I put together a sort of series of episodes, sharing the must know stuff happening in the areas that affect our creative, mostly online businesses.
[00:03:22] So starting right here in this episode and following us through this entire month, I am sharing conversations with you that I've had with experts in various fields about what you need to know as you begin 2022. The series includes the topics of social media, business, legal and podcasts, and begins right here right now with an element of online business that I'd argue every single one of us has either been a customer of, or a creator of, and that is online courses.
[00:03:52] Today, I'm joined by Spencer Fry, founder and CEO of online course platform Podia. Spencer has been an entrepreneur, his entire life, and proudly has never earned a paycheck from anyone other than himself. Previously he co-founded three bootstrapped companies, TypeFrag in 2003, Carbon Made in 2007 and Uncover in 2012, he is happy to help entrepreneurs whenever and wherever he can.
[00:04:18] He lives in New York city and in his spare time, loves to cook and play squash.
[00:04:24] Spencer, welcome to Being Boss.
[00:04:27] Spencer Fry: Thank you very much for having me.
[00:04:29] Emily Thompson: I'm excited to chat with you and we're just talking about how we've worked with Podia for a really long time, but I've never actually gotten to chat with you.
[00:04:38] So it's nice to be in the same zoom room with you.
[00:04:41] Spencer Fry: Is there a nice to meet you to actually, I know your name, but I hadn't seen your face before. So this is nice.
[00:04:47] Emily Thompson: Well, this is my face. Wonderful. Well, I wanted to, I wanted to talk about online courses and the only person I could imagine talking to was
[00:04:58] those at Podia, including you. So I'm excited to talk about online courses and what we're looking at, moving into the new year. But before we dive into all of that, I want to introduce you to our bosses and hear more about your entrepreneurial story, how it is that you got to where you are today. So if you don't mind taking us on
[00:05:21] a little journey, how you got here. I would love to hear it.
[00:05:25] Spencer Fry: Sure. Yeah, of course. It's actually quite a long journey, but I'll, I'll keep it short. So I am now 37 years old and I've been building, tech startups since my early teen years. One of my claims to fame is I've actually never had a paycheck in my entire life, I've always worked for myself.
[00:05:46] So this is actually my fifth startup in a, 20 years, basically.
[00:05:53] Emily Thompson: I love that con I feel like I need to congratulate you on never having had a paycheck.
[00:05:58] Spencer Fry: Yeah, it feels good. For a long time, I was like, what is a W2? I don't know.
[00:06:06] Emily Thompson: You don't need to worry, or you didn't need to worry about that.
[00:06:08] Maybe you have to now.
[00:06:10] Spencer Fry: And technically employed by my own company. But before that I was, I never was. So they were always, LLCs. This is the. Corporation where I actually have a W2. Yeah, it feels great. But yeah, I've always been interested in tech and startups and my journey kind of started when, both my parents had professors at Yale and we moved to campus when I was 11 years old and I got a really, really fast internet connection.
[00:06:39] So I got a T3 line, which, kind of made all the, all the world's different. So previous to that, I was actually using an AOL modem, you know? That's so I got fast internet. I got really excited about, building online. I started a bunch of different little projects. I got in trouble with the FBI when I was 16 years old, one of my internet companies.
[00:07:02] So yeah, I have, a very, storied history.
[00:07:06] Emily Thompson: Love that. So five startups. Can you like recap what they have been?
[00:07:11] Spencer Fry: Of course. Yeah. So, the most notable ones started when I was a freshman in college. So that company was called TypeFrag, which still exists today. So if you're familiar with discord, it was one of the, sort of, one of the original, VoIP companies for gamers.
[00:07:29] So we, we hosted thousands and thousands of gamers, let them talk to each other online while they were playing video games. So I sold that company, in my college years, when I was a junior and then I started a, another company. Right after college, called Carbonmade, which is pretty well known in the online creative space.
[00:07:49] So we were actually the first online portfolio, for artists and designers to display their work online, started in 2005, built that company up, completely bootstrapped, never raised any financing. And then about four years later sold my share of the company. And IRF, I always forget if it's 2009, 2010, 2011, something like somewhere around there.
[00:08:12] And then I started working on a, another startup and I got interested in. Thinking that I wanted to do B2B, which I didn't like doing, but I started a benefits company for employees. And then I started that, ran it for about two years, sold the company. And then I decided I want to get back into helping creators, and helping individuals, make money online.
[00:08:37] And that's where, this company started. So I started working on this and in 2014,
[00:08:44] Emily Thompson: Nice. Nice. Okay. Okay. So you've done five startups, which is amazing. And I'm wondering at this point, I feel like oftentimes when people are in that like multiple startups, especially at such a young age, it almost becomes this like, this equation based, like I'm just going to go to where it makes sense and maybe a little less, so passion based.
[00:09:08] So I'm wondering where you are on that spectrum of starting something that you were just incredibly passionate about versus like, it's just your next thing that looks like it's going to do well.
[00:09:19] Spencer Fry: So every time I've been successful, I've been passionate about it. The only company where I didn't, I didn't feel any passion towards was the B2B business that I started after selling, carbon made actually.
[00:09:32] And when I left that company, I looked back at, the previous startups I'd worked on where I was happiest. And I realized that I was happiest working with entrepreneurs, working with individuals, letting them. Into all the secrets I knew about building businesses online and that's kind of where we started with, with Podia.
[00:09:54] So, yeah. Yeah. And, actually kind of, so, as I mentioned earlier, both my parents are professors at Yale and my dad was actually the one of the first online course creators on the internet. So he actually in combination with Yale, put out a course in 2009 that now has millions and millions of views on YouTube.
[00:10:14] So actually he got a really early insight into online courses and how they could, allow anyone on that had access to the internet to get paid, to learn et cetera,
[00:10:27] Emily Thompson: You literally got the earliest insight into this.
[00:10:31] Spencer Fry: The earliest and my dad is not techie at all. So, it was, it was a bunch, they hired a film crew and they filmed him doing his lectures and they did all the, uploading to YouTube and that sort of thing.
[00:10:42] But he would receive emails daily, multiple times a day from students in China. In Asia all over the world saying, professor Fry, I really loved your course, can you tell me more about X? And so he would, he would tell me these stories, like at the dinner table or whatever, I'd go visit him.
[00:10:58] And it was really exciting for me.
[00:10:59] Emily Thompson: Yeah. So there really is. It's not, it's not for you. Just the next thing that sort of makes sense in terms of like what's on paper, but I mean, you were literally, you had front row seats more or less to the birth of online courses, which is amazing.
[00:11:15] Spencer Fry: Yeah. Yeah. And so that's, that's part of it.
[00:11:17] And then the other part of it was when I was working on carbon made, we had a little office in Soho, here in New York city. And, Scotia was actually founded in our office. So the two co-founders of Skillshare Mike and Malcolm, rented desks from me at the office. And I was actually one of the first three teachers on the platform.
[00:11:38] So at the time it was actually all offline. So they rented little spaces at churches and, kind of other buildings around Soho, New York, and actually taught a course for Skillshare. Introduction to courses for me. So obviously that was all offline, but then they pivoted to being an online platform and then my course got recorded and put on the online platform too.
[00:12:00] So I got to see, their early success as well.
[00:12:05] Emily Thompson: Such cool. I hadn't, I knew none of these things. I'm loving this so much. How wonderful to hear the sort of backstory of like of you being a part of this birth of online courses, which you saw from the early days with some of the first ones, but now online courses
[00:12:26] are huge. It's a massive industry. They are the backbone of, I think, most online business models. And thankfully I think are becoming a part of how people are hybridizing their businesses between online and offline. How are you feeling about all that?
[00:12:44] Spencer Fry: I mean, I love it. I, I am a huge proponent of the internet, as you can probably tell.
[00:12:51] I think one of the things that makes me happiest is just to see, someone selling a course and say, I don't know, New Mexico to someone in France or like vice versa. I just love how, you don't have to be in a classroom. You don't have to, put your jacket on getting your car, drive to a building to take a course.
[00:13:11] I just love how it's always accessible. So I actually spend a lot of this past weekend taking an online course, for example. So I'm a, I'm a huge fan.
[00:13:18] Emily Thompson: Right. And so fan is one part of it. And I think you sort of started like getting in there with a couple of these pieces, but why do you think online courses have become such a mainstay?
[00:13:30] What is it? What is it about them that makes them not go away?
[00:13:36] Spencer Fry: So there's, there's a ton of different reasons. I think it's always different for different people. I think they're very easily consumable. Both, you can, you can watch them on your iPhone, your iPad, your apple TV, your computer, you can have them with you at all times.
[00:13:52] So my, my wife's actually also a course creator as well. But yeah, they, they are, you can stop and start them, which is a really important thing. I think for a lot of people who have very busy lives, they can find an hour between, dinner and going to sleep or they can, spend, early morning on a, on a Saturday or something like that.
[00:14:11] So they're just very accessible. I think also they're they tend to be priced pretty well. Like you can learn a lot, like the course I was taking this past weekend, I was $99 and I felt like after taking the course, I would have easily paid a thousand dollars for this course. It was so beneficial for me as someone who loves to learn.
[00:14:27] And so I just think they have so many, different reasons why, people are fans.
[00:14:35] Emily Thompson: Yeah. And I think, well, I think we'll probably get into this a little bit more, but even pre pandemic, I imagined courses being the precursor of how we sort of update and change education on a whole. And I think pandemic probably took us into this realm where we could, where online courses, weren't just being taken by people who create online courses.
[00:14:58] Right. I mean, literally children were brought in and put into this sort of online education system. Which I think opened the door to what we probably can't even imagine though. I'm about to pick your brain on what you can imagine, right. Happens beyond that. But I do, I agree with you. I've always seen that online courses were an amazing opportunity for us to sort of decentralize education and sort of make it easier for you to learn anything without going to an organization and giving tons of money or whatever it may be.
[00:15:32] And so I love that you're sort of echo. Echoing some of those things that I've felt around online courses.
[00:15:39] Spencer Fry: They're also really great for the creator as well, because, like most things on the internet, they can be edited and changed and updated and, they can be made better over time. And I think that's a really important thing.
[00:15:51] So for example, I think I know a lot of, professors and teachers, they have their kind of core curriculum and they stick to it. But as an online course creator, you can constantly change and edit things on the fly. So, whether it's as simple as like a typo, or, a broken link, or, a video that maybe didn't make sense that I can upload a new copy, replace it.
[00:16:14] Or maybe, like my wife, for example, just got a bunch of feedback on her course. So she's adding a bunch of bonus content. So there's, there's, it's, it's always ever changing. Which is really, really cool.
[00:16:25] Emily Thompson: Yeah. I also liked this idea of being able to change even the content as things, come to light or, the world changes or whatever it may be.
[00:16:33] Whereas if you're putting what into a physical booklet, say, once it's printed, it's there. And unless we do more additions, which, isn't always going to be possible. Courses are something that you can go in and update and all the ways that you said, but also keep relevant as things change.
[00:16:51] Spencer Fry: And they're also much easier for a learner, a student to consume because they can skip around. I always found that when I would read a book where I was like, where's the important part, like, is it chapter 5, 6, 7? Where is it? Where's the course. So you can see, typically see the table of contents and everything that's inside.
[00:17:10] You can click to it, you can watch a video. Okay. Maybe it's not for me skip to the next one, read text. So you don't have to complete. A hundred percent of the course, just like you don't have to complete a hundred percent of a book. But courses do allow you to skip around in a much easier way.
[00:17:24] Emily Thompson: Right.
[00:17:24] So courses are really amazing for the creators because it gives you tons of flexibility and ability and you can get paid for what you know and all, all of those wonderful things, but also for the learner, because you are, it's more, it's easier, it's more accessible and it's easier for you to learn what, and in the way that you most need to.
[00:17:43] I love all of that. We're not selling me on courses here, I'm in it. But anyone who may be listening, if you've been playing with the idea of either investing in online courses or, or creating one, I don't see this as a trend that has been growing or even just sizzle whatever's happening over the past couple of years.
[00:18:06] I think this is a mainstay and a pivotal part of how people do business, particularly online for the foreseeable future. Do you agree?
[00:18:15] Spencer Fry: Totally agree. And I think one of the cool things that we're seeing also, since the start of COVID is that online courses are becoming much more of a, of a community. So there's a lot more people that are taking courses that are, talking in the comments, joining a slack or discord or Facebook group that's, has to do with the community.
[00:18:35] So there's this, other learners are being able to interact with you. You can ask questions to them. Participate in stuff like that. So it's not just that you take a course by yourself. So like the course I've purchased this past weekend, there's a discord community and I was able to jump in there and ask questions and, there's, there's much more of a group bonding over every single topic.
[00:18:55] Emily Thompson: And I think for so many people, that has been a missing piece for a long time. But I also love that you can also just take a course and you don't have to be a part of a community to gain this information. You can sort of pick and choose how it is that how it is that you want to, how it is. Indeed. Indeed. Do you go alone or do you take your friends.
[00:19:15] Spencer Fry: Right. I'm actually, it's funny because I'm, I tend to, whenever I take a course, I, I like to send it to, three or four people on text message and say, Hey, you want to like jump in on this with me. And sometimes I get taker sometimes I don't. But I really prefer to have that like peer pressure.
[00:19:32] Emily Thompson: Some people would call it accountability, but I love that you call it peer pressure.
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[00:21:17] Emily Thompson: So you just ended at one part of my next question. I'm wondering if you have any ways to expand. I'd like to know from a bird's eye view, what is happening in the world of online courses right now?
[00:21:30] Spencer Fry: So, yeah, one thing I mentioned just now is this community aspect. And it's something that we've been following now for a couple of years and we actually just launch,
[00:21:38] not to promote our product too much, but we just lost a big community feature on our platform. And people are starting to pair whether it's with our platform or other platforms, community as a big aspect to online courses. And it, for me, it makes a ton of sense. I think one of the things that you do lose out with courses sometimes is that, having other students, having other people to, to kind of brainstorm and talk to.
[00:22:01] And so we're just seeing a lot more courses, have a community that runs alongside it. So that's one piece, we're also seeing a lot more live components to courses. So, while you might have a course that stand alone, you might also offer, a few webinars that go along with it. That sort of thing, office hours, that kind of thing.
[00:22:21] So, those are two trends. And then just one third trend that we've been seeing as well, is that we're seeing a lot more, courses that are run on cohorts. So for example, everyone will pre sign up for a course that launches on December 1st. And then, they're all gonna start taking the course together.
[00:22:38] And typically the that's also paired with the webinars. So the, the instructor, the teacher will also throw in some webinars during that first few weeks. So there's a lot of things happening, but I think again, like accountability, as well as community are two of the bigger things that we're seeing.
[00:22:52] Emily Thompson: I think accountability has probably been the missing piece for what makes online courses work.
[00:23:01] Since their inception more or less, right. You sort of have to hold yourself responsible otherwise to do the thing. And not everyone is great at doing that. Right. So I love that the online component, creates that accountability as well as that community component creates that accountability. Because I, again, I feel like that sort of heals the, the problem that most creators find when getting their students
[00:23:27] through it to reap the benefits of engaging with a course and that otherwise this is also just sort of healing, like a pandemic thing where we just want to hang out with people.
[00:23:37] Spencer Fry: Yeah, definitely. And I think, one thing they say is that when you can teach something, it's when you really understand something.
[00:23:44] So I think one of the things I like about these communities that are forming around courses is that. Students will have questions and then other students will answer them and you feel better as a student when you can answer other students' questions and it gives you that kind of feedback loop like, oh, look, I've actually learned something and this was super valuable for me.
[00:24:02] So I love that aspect of it.
[00:24:04] Emily Thompson: Yes. Oh, I like that too. And I love too that what you're talking about here is a couple of episodes ago. We'll leave link in the show notes, but I did an episode on community versus audience versus market. And I think oftentimes people think of building community. When they're actually building an audience, they just want to speak to their people, but in a community, people are empowered to speak to each other.
[00:24:32] So you're giving them the space to assist each other, to answer questions that you would probably be there answering, but you don't even have to because they're going to answer it amongst themselves.
[00:24:41] Spencer Fry: Yep. Yeah, definitely. I answered someone's question this over this past week and I felt really good about myself.
[00:24:47] I felt extra smart that I was actually learning something. But yeah, that question was posed to the teacher, but I was able to jump in there and do it myself. So I felt good as a student.
[00:24:58] Emily Thompson: And helpful, right? Like you're helping someone else do that thing as well, which is a nice little benefit of just engaging in those kinds of communities.
[00:25:08] Spencer Fry: I was just going to say it's definitely evolved a lot because I think comments were the original way that people would participate in a course, there would be a lesson and they would leave comments and questions and that the teacher could go in and leave responses. But that again, sort of, Is not as community focused as actually having like a forum or having a place where people can gather and discuss a bunch of different topics.
[00:25:32] And also, I think another great thing about community is that it allows people to share more about themselves than maybe just the answer to specific questions. And then you get to know someone and you can like reach out to them on Twitter or Facebook or, or whatever. And again, it builds this kind of comradery around the.
[00:25:48] Emily Thompson: Yeah, which is just going to influence everyone's like positively influence everyone's outcome from taking the course. Great. Some great benefits there of adding community to your courses. I love that. Perfect. So, okay. I do want to talk about this people like connections situation. Do you see this changing?
[00:26:11] Disappearing, when we can all hang out again or do you see this being something that the pandemic perhaps initiated, but has a longer, a longer life span? And what do you imagine that looking like.
[00:26:26] Spencer Fry: Yeah. I mean, I don't see it going anywhere. I think that if any, I mean, people may go back to more in person things, obviously.
[00:26:34] But I don't think they're going to do that. And not do the online component, not to the online community component. I think that's just, just. Part of the way we live our lives these days. So I don't think I don't see that changing. I also think that, you can have two different types of friends, you can have the friends that you see, around town, around your city, that you meet and you'd have a different relationship than maybe some of the people that you meet in like an online community, around a specific topic.
[00:27:00] [00:27:00] So, the course I was taking this past weekend, I don't know anyone really in the online and the offline world that would be able to talk to me about that. Right. But people on the online world, I can communicate that with them over discord or over at the community feature that we have. And so, yeah, it's just a different, group of.
[00:27:19] Emily Thompson: I agree with that. I hadn't really thought about it, but as you were saying it, I agree because you're right. And as someone too, who has been doing, like living part of my life online for 15 ish years, I definitely, yeah. Online friends and offline friends. Right. I, that won't be going away when I can hang out with my offline friends again.
[00:27:42] Spencer Fry: exactly. Like most of my offline friends aren't in tech, so they don't even know really what I do like oh, okay. Spencer, computer nerd. And then I have online friends that I've known for like 10, 15 years where we've only met in person maybe once or twice. And some people never, but we share similar interests that are online.
[00:28:04] And I think it's great. And again, I don't think it's going to go away. I think it, of course it's just give you access to more different types of people, that are maybe similar to you and share similar interests.
[00:28:14] Emily Thompson: Yeah.
[00:28:15] Oh, I love that. Okay. Then let's zoom in alot because what I do want to focus on is we talked sort of what is happening right now.
[00:28:23] 2022 as we go into it in courses. But let's zoom into what it is that course creators can actually do? Like what should we be focusing our energy on when it comes to online courses right here right now.
[00:28:40] Spencer Fry: Sure. So, Yeah. Yeah. So this is actually a good timing because we just released a, a huge survey, where we, we talked to you for 18,000, course creators and, who have collectively over 130,000 courses.
[00:28:58] And one of the things that we realized or through the data was that, is around pricing courses. So I think one people, one thing that people get kind of, maybe get wrong when they're first starting as they feel like they need to either underprice their course or overpriced their course. They never know how much they should price their course for.
[00:29:15] So in the data, we actually saw that the average online courses, only $137. And we also found, that if you're a new course creator, there's no benefit to you, to underprice your course hitting that sort of $99 sweet spot for your course is actually the perfect price point from you course creators.
[00:29:35] So oftentimes I see new new courses. Either charging way too little or way too much. So they'll list their course for only $49 or $19, something like that. But we actually found in the data that, you'll get just as many buyers if you list it for $99. So that's just one cool piece of information that we found.
[00:29:54] Emily Thompson: That's amazing versus people. I often see this, they go with like, and I'm just like the B school model of $2,000 or something that a lot of times should probably only be a hundred dollars.
[00:30:08] Spencer Fry: Yeah. For, 89% of the courses that we surveyed, actually at prices under $304. So, there are still, 10% of the market that has courses over 300.
[00:30:21] But for the majority of courses, they're under 300 and the average price is 99. And again, for new course creators, I think you should target that $99 price point, don't short sell yourself. Don't, put something out for only like 39 bucks a month.
[00:30:35] Emily Thompson: Love it. Okay. So that's pricing, I feel like another sort of, block for people, either creating it or keeping it irrelevant is the tech side of things.
[00:30:47] So video, like all of those things, what is happening now in terms of producing your course?
[00:30:55] Spencer Fry: So, I always tell new course creators that, all you need is, a pair of AirPods or just like a really cheap and expensive mic for, 30, 40, $50. We have a bunch of guides that we can link in the show notes, some like that.
[00:31:11] But don't get worried about the tech. I think one of the things, again, that people are always worried about, if, is if my course isn't overproduced, are people going to think like I'm a fraud or I don't know what I'm talking about, that sort of thing. We're actually some of the best courses I've taken. And some of our most successful people basically just sit there in like a t-shirt and sweat pants and just talk into the screen.
[00:31:32] So don't worry about being fancy. Don't worry about, having like the best equipment, that sort of thing that can all come. But I think it's better to prove yourself out first, try to get some sales. And then I think there's no better feeling than to buy that, $200 microphone with your course proceeds.
[00:31:49] So yeah, th that's something you can shoot for, but yeah, don't worry about, over producing.
[00:31:54] Emily Thompson: Yeah. I love that. We're in 2022 and video has taken over the internet and you can still just show up with what you have with what comes standard with your computer. Your AirPods were even like, I'm recording this currently in wired in a wired headphones, right?
[00:32:15] That you still don't need to go all out to create a quality course.
[00:32:19] Spencer Fry: Yeah,
[00:32:20] I think that's also another nice thing about, the pandemic has been that most people now have a microphone because you sort of just have to have one, it's either built into your computer or you had to get one through COVID.
[00:32:30] So you've got all the tools that you need. And then I always recommend that people, when they're looking for like a course platform, whether it's ours or someone else is that they just focus on the simplicity of the platform. Don't look for all the features that you don't need today. To be honest, there's not a single course platform out there that doesn't have the features you need to get started.
[00:32:52] So don't worry about like, okay, well, what if I have a hundred thousand customers? And I'm making a million dollars a year, is this platform going to be right for me? Just worry about like, what do you need today and really what you need today. Every course platform has it covered for you.
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[00:33:58] Okay. I want to talk about this community piece too, because I think a lot of times when people think community, for my course, it equals time that they're going to have to spend managing a community and creating more content or answering the questions, whatever it may be. What do you see happening in the implementation of the new core or new community feature and Podia in terms of how creators are managing, what is potentially an extra bit of workload and managing this community?
[00:34:29] Spencer Fry: So, what I tell creators of that, if anything, it's actually going to reduce the workload, because again, like you mentioned earlier, you've got other students in the course that are contributing answers. Whereas maybe before, people might be leaving, comments might be sending you an email. DM-ing you on Facebook or Twitter or whatever.
[00:34:47] But actually having a community allows for other people that are interested in what you're doing to help out. So I know there's, this, there's worry of some course creators that they feel as if, oh, I gotta be always present and I gotta be always [00:35:00] responding, but actually, you can rely a lot more heavily on your community.
[00:35:04] Emily Thompson: Yeah.
[00:35:04] Oh, I love that. I hadn't really thought about it potentially even taking less time because you've centralized communications around your course. And you filled your room with people who will help you answer the question.
[00:35:16] Spencer Fry: Yep.
[00:35:16] Exactly, exactly. And I think also too, as your community begins to mature even more, you can, assign people to be moderators and you can get people more involved and you can, potentially can incentivize them with free courses or maybe free webinars, whatever.
[00:35:31] But yeah, if anything, it's going to be less work. There's going to be more volume of content coming in. But that's, that's a luxury.
[00:35:41] Emily Thompson: Oh, wonderful. Okay. Then let's talk about. How things we've talked about, sort of the online course world has grown and shifted. And I'm interested in looking at this, through this lens of what's working and not working one way or the other.
[00:35:57] So my first question is what has in the past worked for online courses that is not working anymore?
[00:36:06] Spencer Fry: Great question. So, I think one of the things that we've seen in the past that worked well was, Put up a course, on, on any topic and not, put your own personality into it. You can just, you can just basically throw up a landing page, say, I'm going to teach you this, et cetera.
[00:36:24] Whereas now I think people are really more connecting with the creator. They want to know who you are that, they want to see photos of you. They want to understand like what your vibe is. They're, they're more interested in purchasing from you as much as they are about learning the topic.
[00:36:38] And so I think the more successful you can be as a creator as the more that you instill your own personality into your sales page, into your content, into your videos, I'm into your marketing, all that kind of thing. So, authenticity is obviously obviously a word that's thrown around a lot. But if you can be truly authentic to what you're selling and what you're producing, what you're creating, then that's only going to help you.
[00:36:59] And again, in the past, because there were so many, so fewer courses out there you could get away with not doing that.
[00:37:06] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Right. No more phoning it in everyone. You got to show up and be you anything else? Not working anymore.
[00:37:15] Spencer Fry: I, it really depends because one of the things about courses is that it's such a big market.
[00:37:20] There's so many courses being sold. So many courses being produced that there's very few like hard and fast rules. I think in the past, people were maybe producing courses that were potentially too long, so they would put hours and hours and hours of content, which, is great for certain types of courses.
[00:37:39] But I do think that, if you want to be successful, at least, especially when you're just starting out, shoot for something that's short shoot for something that's easily consumable that doesn't scare people away until maybe you've built up that brand. Maybe you've got repeat customers that trust you and maybe want to follow you down a path.
[00:37:57] That's a longer course. So I definitely see creators [00:38:00] creating shorter courses that are much more specific to a topic and usually more specific to an audience.
[00:38:06] Emily Thompson: Oh, that's a good one. Cause I definitely can think of courses in days past long, lots of topics covered really going deep on things that you really care.
[00:38:16] I mean, like this is a semester commitment, more or less.
[00:38:20] Spencer Fry: Exactly. And they usually have a $2,000 price tag as well. Right.
[00:38:24] Emily Thompson: Right. Whereas now a short something that you can take in a weekend as you just did or something where you can just like dive relatively deeply, but on very sort of niche topic to learn a quick thing.
[00:38:36] Definitely sounds like the way things are going.
[00:38:38] Spencer Fry: Yeah. We, we actually have a really successful creator on our platform earning millions of dollars a year. And his thing is that every month he has a new course and it's cheap. It's, $49 to $99. And he is wildly successful producing these short, one to three hour long courses, at a low price tag.
[00:38:59] Building up volume and cause again, the more people you have taken your courses, the more people you have joining your community, the more people you have participating as the more word of mouth that you get as well. So, it's, it's one of those things where it's like, would you rather have 10 people pay $99 or one person pay a thousand?
[00:39:16] And, the answers that you've wanted to have 10 people paying $99 typically, because those people are going to then share and spread the word to more people. Yeah.
[00:39:26] Emily Thompson: Oh, lovely. Love that one. Okay. So my next sort of half of this question, or my next question and this interesting lens that I want to view courses through is, is there anything that has not worked in the past that you see working now?
[00:39:42] Spencer Fry: I think that, as I mentioned earlier too, is that there's nothing like very specific that I can point to for that, because there are, again, just so many courses out there and somebody who is successful at different things. And then, some markets prefer it some way. Other markets prefer other ways.
[00:40:00] [00:40:00] So it's, it's typically difficult to kind of pinpoint specifics.
[00:40:04] Emily Thompson: Yeah. Well, and I even love the example you just gave of the person who was creating. All of these courses, because I feel like five years ago, we would have said, take everything, put it in one master course, right. And sell this thing.
[00:40:17] And you will become, the leader in your industry. That's how we would have gone at course creation and building that personal brand and thought leadership and all of those things. But what's happening now is sort of the exact opposite, at least in this case where someone's coming in, just doing quick little things every single month.
[00:40:35] And it sounds like is making bank doing it.
[00:40:38] Spencer Fry: Yeah, definitely. One other thing actually I will mention is that it's of course related, but we are seeing more and more creators diversifying their product offerings. So, they'll have a course, but then they'll also have a digital download. They'll also have like a webinar for sale.
[00:40:52] They'll also have like a coaching, session for sale as well, too. And those all feed into each other really well. And you get customers that are at different parts of their journey. So maybe you have someone who's timid about joining your online course right out the bat off the bat. So they want to do like a live session with you first, or maybe they want to see whether or not you're an authority.
[00:41:14] So the purchase of digital download before they start your course. So we are seeing more and more and more creators diversifying the types of products that they sell.
[00:41:23] Emily Thompson: Yeah. And I think too, that even plays into the accessibility piece, that's become so important in the online realm over the past couple of years of not everyone can sit and just watch some videos and learn a thing, right.
[00:41:35] They want that one-on-one time, or they want the community aspect or, some very, whatever it may be. I love that there is this, availability that we have to engage with creators and, or consume content in a way that better fits how it is that we need to do so.
[00:41:53] Spencer Fry: Yeah, exactly. And I think, just to harp on that point for one more minute, it's, it's nice to also have courses and products at different price points too, as you mentioned, because, again, you can get people started early at a low cost and then maybe you do have a signature course that's, $500 or $999 something.
[00:42:12] But that often takes a lot more trust for someone to purchase. So again, just getting more people into the funnel, sooner at like an easier price point is nice as well. Yeah.
[00:42:23] Emily Thompson: So online courses are really becoming a smaller piece of an overall strategy and business in a way where in the past, I feel like you sort of had this
[00:42:35] funnel and the courses were the thing, but now the thing is all, like they're all on the same playing field, more or less, if that made any sense.
[00:42:45] Spencer Fry: A hundred percent, when we started the business in 2014, we only had courses, that was the only type of digital product that you can sell.
[00:42:54] And now we have 500 types of digital process. And you can sell courses ,downloads, community, webinars and [00:43:00] coaching, and we have seen courses grow extremely well on our platform and just across the industry, but we're also seeing a lot of other types of digital products grow just as quickly. And so I think one of the great things about that is that again, like you mentioned that not everyone wants to sit down and take a course, a lot of people do.
[00:43:18] But they are really looking to purchase into a creator. They're learning, they want to get to know that person. They want to be part of that person's ecosystem. Whether that's starting with digital download or a course or community and webinars, et cetera. But yet we are seeing creators that are diversifying a lot more their, their entire kind of portfolio of products.
[00:43:37] Emily Thompson: Do you have any examples of people who were using courses and digital products as an additional piece of their business model. So let's say there something like a personal chef who works with clients and are doing courses, or give me a couple of examples of what this looks like for anyone out there who may have a business that is functioning, probably [00:44:00] working with clients, or maybe even in like product or retail or something like that.
[00:44:04] But are thinking about what it looks like to expand their offerings into courses and other pieces.
[00:44:10] Spencer Fry: Yeah. Is it okay if I use my wife as an example? So, so yes. Just quick background. So she worked in an ad agency, until around 2014, 2015, and then she went off on her own and started a freelancing business.
[00:44:26] So she's a copywriter by trade. And so for the first two, three years of her, freelance business, she was just completely working with clients, She never had time for herself to build out her own price, that kind of thing. And then about about three years ago. So about a year before COVID started, she, was like, look, I'm gonna see you like selling this product.
[00:44:47] All these creators are becoming rich on your platform. I want to get into that too. So she started actually, building out digital products. And so she started with, a very simple digital free digital download and how to become a freelancer. And then she started to build up that. And then she realized that a lot of the people that were signing for her digital download were actually copywriters as well.
[00:45:08] So then she started putting out, courses on copywriting. And I think she's got a few now, like $99, 4 99, something like that. And then she began to continue to build up her lists. And now she's actually, starting to sell webinars as well. So that's like a new thing for her. And she, and her goal is by the end of next year to
[00:45:26] shift all of her income from her freelance to her digital business. So she has been working really, really hard at that. She's built up her list, I think to now like over 2000 people from zero, a couple of years ago. And it's been great to see her kind of shift. And it's really funny. So she's actually got a webinar tomorrow, actually.
[00:45:47] No, it's today later today. And she sent out the invite a couple of days ago and she's got 99 people subscribed to our webinar and she's just like, this is amazing. Like I'm nervous, but I can't wait, that sort of energy. So, it's been great to see her build up her business from scratch.
[00:46:03] Emily Thompson: Yeah.
[00:46:04] And how, and I say this from experience too, there is such great joy that comes from teaching the thing that you know to people who need to know the thing that you're teaching.
[00:46:16] Spencer Fry: Totally.
[00:46:17] Emily Thompson: Love it. Okay. So if anyone is thinking about doing a course. It's not too late. Courses are not over by any means.
[00:46:27] Spencer Fry: Definitely not. I mean, we always talked about this internally. I think we're at the 1% of where this is heading. Like we are really, really just all the start. Yeah. I mean, just, if you think about it, like courses are even, I mean, they just kind of started five years ago. I mean, my dad was starting them in 2009, but like, he's a pioneer.
[00:46:46] But yeah, I mean, it's been really only four or five years and they've really only become popular in last 18 months. And yeah, we're, we're seeing like record sales, from our creators. So yeah, it's really just getting started.
[00:46:59] Emily Thompson: Amazing. And it's funny, I feel like in the online world, we think five years, that's so old.
[00:47:05] Right. Like how ancient is that? But in the grand scheme of business, let's say industries span generations. And if this is an industry, we are literally just at the very beginning. You're right. 1%.
[00:47:22] Spencer Fry: That's where we are to remind myself, the other day. We've really only been doing things on the internet for like 20, 25 years, but really more seriously, like the last 10 years.
[00:47:33] And this isn't going away. Like, I don't think we're going to turn the internet off next year. And so we're certainly not going to turn online courses off because learning online is one of the best ways if not the best way to learn. So yeah, definitely not going anywhere.
[00:47:48] Emily Thompson: It's not, it's so funny to think, because I think the same thing as well, but we're.
[00:47:54] We're just at the, at the very beginning of seeing what this, what this internet thing is going to do. And I think that online, online learning better be the future of learning in a hallway.
[00:48:09] Spencer Fry: I don't want to go back to a class classroom with a little desk that I can't put my legs under or anything like
[00:48:15] Emily Thompson: that, or just like how uncomfortable is that seat?
[00:48:18] Spencer Fry: No, definitely back pain. Just thinking about it.
[00:48:22] Emily Thompson: Right. I agree. I agree. I think, I think to the connection, the removing, removing of the geographic boundaries that connects those of us. You want to learn something with the people who can teach it is the magical thing about online courses. And now that is similar to like you have online friends.
[00:48:40] You're not going to leave them because you're going to go back to your offline friends. I think we're not going to walk away from that. And then it's just going to grow. With that in mind, and wondering if you have any recommendations, if anyone is wanting, if any bosses listening to this are wanting to start a course right now.
[00:48:59] What does it look like? Or where should they get started? And or what should bosses be thinking about moving into this year? When it comes to adding or improving online courses in their business model?
[00:49:13] Spencer Fry: So I, we actually just finished a 10 video YouTube series on that answers this exact question. So we can put it in the show notes for you.
[00:49:21] That's a video series. We also have a written guide that's really, really helpful. We've had hundreds of thousands of people go through it. So let me share those resources because they'll do a much better job than I can. But yeah, the YouTube series is, is phenomenal. So I definitely recommend it.
[00:49:37] Emily Thompson: I mean, If anything, if anyone, the takeaway you all need is that courses are not done. It we've been itching to start one get started and keep it simple. I do love that we are in this place where the fluff has been removed. We're not expected to have full production, 18 hour courses. We can just come in, teach the thing super quickly, move on and benefit everyone.
[00:50:04] Who's interested in it.
[00:50:06] Spencer Fry: Yep. I always tell, first-time creators that the goal is to hit the publish button and you have to get there as fast as possible. Whether it's one video, whether it's just a text lesson, whatever it is, just smack that publish button and then you can always improve it over time.
[00:50:21] Emily Thompson: I love it. And we will include resources to all of the things that Spencer has mentioned and some other resources that we pull out from this conversation in the show notes, you can find those at beingboss.club. Spencer, where can people find more about you?
[00:50:39] Spencer Fry: So I am big on Twitter. That's my preferred and only social network.
[00:50:43] So twitter.com/spencer fry, and I'm also very available in DMS. So, I get a stranger's DME every day. So if you have any up questions, happy to enter those, whether about courses, starting businesses, life, anything, feel, feel free to send me a message. Perfect.
[00:51:01] Emily Thompson: And Podia. If anyone is interested in starting their own courses, Perfect
[00:51:07] I do have one last question for you. I made this, this is the sneaky question that always comes at the very end Spencer, what these days is making you feel most boss?
[00:51:18] Spencer Fry: Let's fit. Make me feel most boss okay. Renovating a new house I bought last month.
[00:51:24] Emily Thompson: Oh yeah. I love that. Is it.
[00:51:28] Spencer Fry: I'm pretty clueless at it, but I'm learning, I'm learning, doing the renovations, but my wife and I are trying to figure out like, how do we remodel a bathroom?
[00:51:36] We don't know what to choose. So boss and training on that one.
[00:51:41] Emily Thompson: Right. Doing something new and hard. Yes. I like it. Perfect. Spencer, this has been a treat. Thank you so much for coming and sharing this insight with us.
[00:51:50] Spencer Fry: You're so welcome. Thank you so much for having me.
[00:51:52] Emily Thompson: Of course.
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