[CASE STUDY]
How Tung Generated An Extra 6 Figures Of Income From His Expertise
How we helped our client make $28,329 in 5 Days from his first online course (and then 10k/mo)

Have you thought about whether there are more ways you can be monetizing your existing content, your current audience, or your hard-won expertise? 

Mostly likely if you are reading this, you do have significant expertise in your industry that you've refined throughout the years. You might already be sharing that expertise through consulting, speaking, maybe a webinar or workshop here and there, or maybe even a podcast or a published book!

One effective way for growing your business is to take the ideas and material you are already sharing in one of those formats, and create a premium paid online course version of that material, that you can sell to your customers or your audience all over the world, in a way that doesn't directly depend on you to individually work with your customers, while still delivering a ton of value. 

That of course, is the value proposition of incorporating online courses into your business, as a basically infinitely scalable extension of your expertise, that is probably perfectly complimentary to what you are already doing.

Recently our client Tung Tran launched his first online course, called AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp.

He earned just shy of $30,000 in the first 5 days. And I want to show you how he did it.

Update #1 - a couple weeks later

A couple weeks after this article was written, he sold 23 more seats in his course, bringing the total to $42,000 in about the first 6 weeks. He also plans to continue to market it to get more and more students every single month!

Update #2 - 10 months later

After checking in with Tung about 10 months later, his course has generated $8,000 – $12,000 / month in income, and between that and the launch the course will have created 6 figures of new income for him in its first year.  

In this article, you will get all the behind the scenes information on exactly how he and our eLearning team at Monetize Your Expertise worked together to achieve this kind of outcome, so that you can too! We will be showing you exactly what he did, and what we did, that allowed him to achieve this kind of results. It will walk you through the exact method we used to build the course (with templates), his actual launch sequence, and even the hourly journal he kept on the day of the launch. 

The goal is to give you everything you need to also be able to wake up and have the great feeling of seeing this in your inbox:

Tung's Project Goal: To Successfully Monetize His Blog To Generate A New Stream Of Income

"I’ve been building Cloud Living for a while, and currently have built it to about 6k pretty well engaged subscribers. I started Cloud Living in February 2013 just as a place for me to document my online journey. The blog grew pretty fast in the first year thanks to my public case studies on how I built and grew profitable affiliate sites. Since then, I let it sit and the growth stalled out. 

The blog was making only around $1k a month for about 2 years. I wanted to sell my own products but wasn’t very happy this first attempt. I tried to sell a PDF 3 years ago on the same topic that we ultimately made the course on for $99. I launched that ebook around February 2014 and made $7k in sales in 3 days – around 70 customers.

The results were sub-par, and I wasn’t excited about the quality of the product so I discontinued it after 3 months. I didn’t feel it was good enough to charge a premium, so I wanted to build something better. Last year I decided that I wanted to focus on the blog and grow a business out of it. That’s why I decided to make a course. I know this is something my audience really want so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. 

For the course we built this time around, I’m extremely happy with the quality and feel totally confident to sell it at a premium. Without you and your service [having the course built by the MYE team] I would not have been able to create this quality course myself. This time around, I was committed to make the best training course on the market and that’s why I turned to you [Monetize Your Expertise]"

Course Revenue Results 5 Days After Release 

- Pre-launch revenue – $3,479 (7 sales)
- 5 day launch revenue – $24,850 (50 sales)
- Total first launch revenue – $28,329 (57 course sales) 
- Revenue during first 6 weeks after course was released: ~$42,000
- Course's monthly revenue during first year of the course: $8,000-$12,000 / month

There are 3 phases to building and selling a profitable online course

Phase 1 – Select your topic, and plan your course

Phase 2 – Build your amazing new online course

Phase 3 – Launch your course and get lots of happy customers

Let’s go through each phase one by one. 

Phase 1 – Select your topic, and plan your course
Chances are, you already have some good ideas about what types of courses people in your target market would be interested in. Generally it's always best to start with what you know for you first online course, instead of trying to branch out into new industries the first time around (you can do it, but it certainly makes things more challenging).

Start by thinking of the high-value areas that you are already helping clients with, or thinking of things they've specifically been asking you for. Are there areas where they want support? Is there a topic that you currently offer high-ticket, individually customized services or consulting in that would make sense to package up and offer as a lower-priced version of that for people who cannot afford your typical rates? This would be the podcasting or content marketing agency that offers a course about DIY podcasting or content marketing. Then when you have those sales calls where someone says "I can't afford your rates right now" you can say "great! well in that case we also have a DIY course for those who can't afford our done-for-you services". As an added benefit, you'll then have an excellent way to organically generate more inquiries about your services down the road while you are busy marketing your course!

If you get stuck figuring out what course topic you should run with, life-lines are allowed, and it's time to poll the audience.

Keep in mind that often even if you pick a topic and go with it for the time being, you'll usually be getting feedback along the way, which can help you correct course even if you are slightly off the mark with your initial idea. 

Validation is more important if it is your first time creating a product on a particular topic. For example, if you run a blog and you want to create your first product for it. However, a lot of clients come to us who have been giving talks, offering services, workshops, books, on their topic for years. In this case, they already have validation – if you’ve had 10 consulting clients pay you $5,000 for your consulting services, or if you've had 100 people pay you $500 for a workshop, or even if you've had 1,000 people pay you $5 for your ebook or 1,000 subscribers to your blog, then you've essentially already got the validation that releasing a course in your industry is likely to have significant interest.

If your situation isn't clear-cut, you can also look to other courses in your industry to get a sense of the overall demand for that type of product. There are plenty of ultra-successful courses in all kinds of industries, from the standard topics like marketing or business courses, to the case studies you've probably seen about super niche courses like pet-grooming or how to grow your yoga business. There are also plenty of examples of successful courses that came from businesses with far smaller audiences / customer bases, such as this case study about Nigel who only had 283 people on his email list yet still launched his course to the tune of $18k annual recurring revenue!

As you read above, Tung’s goal for this project was to properly monetize his existing blog. He had made some decent passive income, but nothing to get super excited about. It was time to take things to the next level. How? An online course selling at $497 a pop! (initially, then he quickly raise the price to $997 per person after the initial launch)

Tung took stock of the things that he knew, and the different types of businesses he had built (for example he was making over $50,000 per month selling t-shirts at one point) and ultimately landed on helping people build Amazon affiliate websites in the same way he had done successfully. This was also a topic that he had written extremely popular case studies about and had even sold an ebook on, so he suspected a premium course on the same topic would be in high demand. 

One thing to be careful about: often content creators, when thinking of course ideas, consider topics THEY like and would have fun making a course about. The result? A course that they had fun creating but that no one wants to actually buy when it's done! Remember, it doesn't matter if YOU think “it would be so cool to make a course on XYZ”...it matters your CUSTOMER will say (preferably while drooling) “I would do anything to buy a quality course on XYZ – it would solve my exact problems”. 
Phase 2 – Build your amazing new online course
Originally, Tung had known he wanted to make an online course and had even made some initial steps towards building one. But as many first-time course creators find out…it can feel a bit overwhelming at first when you try to take on the whole thing yourself. 

Remember, the skills of course creation are complete independent from your expertise on the topics covered by the course. 

To build a high-quality course you need to do things like…. 

1. Be able to translate your idea/concept into a course curriculum (that's why we hire typically teachers to teach math, not mathematicians)
2. Turn that course curriculum into content for valuable material individual course lessons 
3. Understand instructional design well enough to make your content effective and engaging
4. Design interesting slides and PDFs and other supplemental materials for your entire course (often 500+ slides, 20+ PDFs, etc.)
5. Record the videos with high-quality presentation skills
6. Edit and post post-production on all the videos to fix mistakes and improve the quality
7. Project manage the whole process (i.e. do all of the above steps for 40 different lessons, on a clear schedule, to make sure you actually get it done)
8. Set up a course website / LMS / and configure all your new course content on it (For example, Tung used MemberMouse, which requires a decent amount of web design skills to use properly)
9. Prepare a course launch campaign, which typically includes: copywriting for marketing funnel, marketing funnel design, email marketing campaign, social media / content marketing campaign

Realizing that his time would NOT be well-spent trying to figure out all of this and do it all himself through (time-consuming and expensive) trial and error over the span of 12-18 months...Tung came to our eLearning agency instead.

He turned to me and my team of course experts here at Monetize Your Expertise for this project to ensure the final product was worth charging a premium for, and something he could be proud of. And at the sake of tooting our own horn, we are all extremely proud of the results we achieved together. 

If you are planning to build your online course on your end, it's recommended that you have a team of course professionals ready to go before you get into the thick of things, including:

1. Instructional designer

2. Content developer

3. Graphic designer

4. Video production / editing specialist

5. Project manager to help keep the whole thing on track

6. Web designer / LMS specialist

7. Course marketing consultant

8. In many cases, people who can help with copywriting, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, Facebook ads, etc.
The workflow for efficient course-building
Here is a brief overview of the course-creation process that my company has refined over the last 7 years, from 100+ online course projects and 100+ years of combined industry experience, that you can follow to ensure your next course project is a success (and not a huge headache)

1. Organize and go through all starting reference materials. 

In some cases our starting point for the project was a published book, in other cases a recording of a webinar or a live workshop, and finally in many other cases this will be a compilation of support desk articles or slide decks that the client typically uses in their consulting or speaking business.

2. Map out the course structure / curriculum

What is the main target outcome of this course for the students? Would that best be covered through a screencast / voiceover slides based, or a 'talking head' style of content where you speak directly to the camera?

What types of interactive materials in addition to the main course lessons would be important to include in the course? These can include PDF workbooks, quizzes, calculators, or expert interviews.

Once you've mapped out the main elements of the course content, you can get a sense for the approximate number of modules and lessons.

For Tung's course, we ultimately went with 8 modules, with 8-10 lessons each, using a mix of recording voiceover on top of well-designed slides, mixed with recorded screencast walkthroughs showing the use of certain tools and software.

Here are some examples of course documentation we've created for recent projects as we mapped out the content for them, that you can use as reference to get some inspiration:
3. Flesh out the course content, to map the precise course content for each lesson

In our project processes, the way we approach this is to schedule a series of interview-based content development calls with our client where we flesh out the materials, create examples and identify applicable anecdotes, etc. DIY version: outline your course as a whole, and then have a friend interview you, and have that file transcribed, and clean it up.

4. Hire a graphic designer to build custom-designed slides and workbooks for the whole course. 

For some examples of common types of course slide types you can use:
- Course title slide
- Module title slide
- Lesson title slide
- Recap / summary slide
- Main point slide
- Quote / impact statement slide
- Various types, here’s one example - https://cl.ly/27b3bb74adb1
- Numerical graphic slide - https://cl.ly/52f627c0551a
- Screenshot slide - https://cl.ly/ff8a680456e1
- Title with bullet points slide - horizontal - https://cl.ly/6284c18e1ca0
- Title with bullet points slide - vertical
- Compare / contrast slides - https://cl.ly/954b68493b69, https://cl.ly/daa3d4d3fd08
- Combo slide (like photo with graphic, impact statement with photo, etc) - https://cl.ly/a92fe39ff8f3
- Chart slide - https://cl.ly/a14dcd156d24

5. Record the runthrough of the course materials from the slide decks and lesson plans you've created

6. Editing and post-production of the course videos
When it comes to our projects, we edit your videos, project manage the process, and do internal quality assurance to make sure the final product is world-class. 

DIY version: for project management, use Basecamp. For video editing, don’t do this yourself or the result will generally NOT be good. Instead, hire an independent contractor that specializes in this!

8. Take your new course videos and set them up to be delivered through a course website / LMS (learning management system)

9. Create course EEs (engagement elements) to make your course materials more interactive
This can include PDF workbooks, quizzes, cheat-sheets, forums, or anything else that will add value to your course, and shift it from '8 hours where I talk at you in videos' towards 'this interactive course will guide you A to Z, through the process of implementing XYZ specific outcome in your business / life'.

10. Plan your course launch / marketing campaign, to drive sales of your new course

See above and below for ideas on what this can include, or see resources like this (as course marketing is a whole big topic on its own) for more in-depth course marketing ideas.

Pro tip: 

Think about this whole process as a pipeline, or else it might take forever to complete. So instead of trying to create ALL the content at once, and then design everything at once, edit all the videos at once, etc., it's usually best to create 1 module's worth of content, send that off to design, which gets sent back to you to be recorded, which gets send to the video editor to edit. 

Keep reading to the end and you’ll get access to a free course tool I built I built for you, and a list of resources to maximize your chances of success with your project.

Optional but recommended during Phase 2:

It is optional but highly recommended to use every opportunity to get feedback of the course you are building, particularly by involving your early adopters. During this particular course project. we got a ton of feedback from customers every step of the way to make sure we produced the best product possible. 

For example, below you can read what some of Tung's happy new course customers had to say about his product (including a favorable comparison to a certain 7 figure per year course that thousands of people have bought...):

Note: the tool we used to get these reviews was intercom.io

Phase 3 – Launch your course and get lots of happy customers

The super short version: plan to release a series of 3-5 blog posts related to your primary course topic (focusing on the goals and pain points it addresses) and promote them heavily (social media, emailing your email list, direct outreach to people, etc.) leading up to the course launch date.

In Tung's case, he released a series of 9 articles before and during the launch, with a focus on leverage a modest email list and Facebook group, and trying to pre-sell the course to get early adopters (which got 7 course sales for about $3,500 in revenue).

If you'd like to see his exact series of blog posts (6 blog posts chronicling an exciting case study example of what he would teach in the course) used, here they are!

Tung’s 5 Prelaunch Articles



#3 – $10k Challenge Update #3 <<< He announced the course is coming soon on this article 

#4 – 10k Challenge Update #4 <<< He keeps mentioning it on every new update

#5 – $10k Challenge Update #5  – Final Update <<< The case study site making $3k per month by this post, and Tung increases the emphasis on the course and urgency with each new update 

Results – Pre-sales revenue – $3,479 (7 sales)

Mid-Launch Article Topics

(These also provide a good general format of the approach to the topics you can use in yours)

Prelaunch Content #1 – Big Idea and Case Study

Prelaunch Content #2 – Step by step teaching

Prelaunch Content #3 – Addressing objections

The structure of this launch might surprise you in its simplicity (and efficacy). Course launches don’t have to be sophisticated, especially if you have some kind of audience. You sometimes have to be a bit more crafty if you don’t have much of an audience to work with, however. 

Here is a visual illustration from Digital Marketer that Tung found helpful, about how course marketing funnels generally work:

Image from Digital Marketer – wwww.inspirechanges.com/portfolio/mini-class-launch-funnel/

Here is the exact breakdown of traffic and sales for Tung's course:

Breaking down what this means:

  • 2,700 total visitors on the sales page
  • This converted to 50 customers (of the $497 product)
  • 1,300 from mailing the launch content (using Activecampaign)
  • 500 from Tung’s Facebook group
  • 500 from direct links on other places on his site
  • The last couple hundred from random anonymous sources

If you do the math for what this means to you: 

  • 1300/6000 = 21.6% click-through from his email list
  • 288/2438 = 11.8% click-through from the Cloud Living Facebook group
  • 235 other visitors from Facebook due to social sharing of the launch content and sales page

To see Tung's primary course sales page that he used to launch this course, you can click here

To see Tung's course FAQ pageclick here

These are great numbers, but not unusual (in some cases we've even gotten better stats), especially when you consider that these CTR’s are not even on individual emails or links, but just somewhere during the whole campaign. For example, 21.6% of his email list clicked through to the sales page at some point. 

So in a sense, the objective results of this case study is by no means an unusual result. The metrics are relatively normal in terms of conversion rates. The strategy is simple. Your expected results will just involve doing the math based on the size of your own email list, social media following, etc. Your conversion rates won’t all be the same, but they can be used as a ballpark estimate.

As a reminder, here are the results Tung's got for the first go-around for this course:

5 day launch revenue – $24,850 (50 sales)

Total first launch revenue – $28,329 (57 total sales)

Course revenue during the first 6 weeks = ~$42,000

Monthly revenue after that = $8000-$12,000 / month

Now It’s Your Turn

If you read ALL the way to this point, then chances are that you have been wanting to do your own online course for a while. Well now it’s your turn.

Even with all the tools and information, remember that is up to YOU to take action on the opportunity provided through what you just learned. If you’ve been wanting to build the next big course on XYZ, now is the time.

Final thoughts from Tung about this project:

“Overall, I believe that we have created an awesome course here.
The final production quality is great. I’m really happy with the videos we created. Your voice is awesome! This project is pretty important for my personal and business growth. Now the course is done, I can experiment with all sort of marketing strategies to sell it. I’ve been doing only SEO and affiliate sites for a while. So learning new things is exciting!
For business, it definitely helps to diversify my revenue sources and help to position myself as an authority in the market. And the course makes good money as well 😀 I definitely see this course generate 6-figures for me by the end of the year!”

One week after this case study was originally published everyone continues to be happy, including both Tung and his customers which is always our goal:

Tung again:

“The course is so amazing! I know I keep saying this over and over again, but I can’t help it! I get really excited when seeing our awesome product. So happy with how this turned out.”

Whether you are also a blogger looking to further monetize your blog, a consultant who wants to use a free course in your marketing to showcase your expertise and showcase yourself as the leader in your industry, or a successful author / speaker looking for something high-value to offer on the back-end of your book / speaking presentations….chances are you should go out and build a course! E-Learning isn't going away anytime soon, and incorporating it into your own business is going to be a great way to build your brand, looking to next year and beyond.

If you'd like to schedule a call with our team to discuss your course project idea, click here to schedule a demo, where we will share with you more details about we can build you a world-class online course, no matter the industry, or how early you are in the process.

You can also take a look at some of our project samples to get a sense of the quality of work that we do, as well as hear what our clients have to say about the experience of working with us on their project!
You're off to a great start !

And that’s it! In just a few hours of your time we outline exactly what you want to build and how, and then we get to work producing it for you while you move on to more important uses of your time. After 1-3 months (depending on course length) we come back to you with the final product. You are free to have as much or little involvement in the process as you'd like.