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Insights and Tips for Online Courses with Brian Clark

Brian-Clark-from-Copyblogger-on-the-WP-eCommerce-Show

In Episode 68, we begin our series on Starting and Growing Your Online Course. To kick it off we brought in one of the internet veterans when it comes to online courses, Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger.

Brian has been in the space of online courses and digital content long before they started taking off on the web. So today he brings to our show his past experience and how he evolved into the space with Copyblogger, as well as what he foresees in the future with online courses.

If you are thinking of diving into this space, or already are doing online courses, this is a must-listen-to-show.

Insights and Tips for Online Courses with Brian Clark
WP eCommerce Show

 
 
00:00 / 42:24
 
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We chatted about:

  • How Copyblogger has evolved and its beginning in the online course space
  • When online courses started gaining momentum and the key to their growth
  • Brian’s top tips for someone considering starting their first online course
  • What Brian thinks when it comes to running your courses on your own site vs. an educational platform, eg. Lynda.com
  • Why you may not see some topics covered in online courses
  • The lack of online courses on specific topics and should you pay attention to those
  • What Brian sees in the future of online courses

The other shows in this series:

Tips for Starting Your First Online Course with Carrie Dils

How To Successfully Market Your Online Course with Troy Dean

How Courses Can Help Grow Your Online Store with Chris Badgett


Thanks to Our Podcast Sponsor: Bluehost


Transcript

Bob Dunn: Hey everyone. Bob Dunn here, known as BobWP on the web. Thanks for tuning in to our next series called What You Need to Know About Starting and Growing Your Online Course. I thought what better way to start out than looking at the big picture of all courses, now and the future? So, to give us his insights, I’ve invited Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger, to lead the way. Welcome to the show, Brian.

Brian Clark: Thanks, Bob. Glad to be here.

Bob: It’s really my pleasure to have you on the show. I’m pretty excited about this, especially kicking off this four-part series. So Brian, I am guessing a lot of my listeners know who you are, or of you, but I figured there may be some scattered individuals who are not into the digital content field, or have spent their last several years on remote islands, or perhaps visiting other planets. So, for the sake of those wandering people, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how Copyblogger has brought online courses into vogue?

Meet Brian Clark, Founder of Copyblogger

Brian: You’re much too kind, first of all. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are unfamiliar. Brief history: A long, long time ago, I used to be an attorney. I did not enjoy that. This was in the ’90s. I moved and taught myself online publishing back in the days when there wasn’t a BobWP to help. There wasn’t even a WP. It was static HTML and all of that. Anyway, those were the days. But yeah, I figured out, basically I was interested in becoming a writer and building online audiences, and I got good at that without really knowing how to make money. Then I figured that part out, and then I realized that I had found a different way of approaching marketing. Fast forward many years later, and we call that content marketing.

We didn’t have a name for it then. Even when I started Copyblogger in 2006, that’s what this site was about, based on my experiences starting three previous successful businesses. Basically, the idea is that, instead of just creating something and then hoping to find someone to buy it, that you actually attract an audience with content, valuable stuff that’s relevant to what you ultimately end up selling. This site that I started in 2006, Copyblogger, was to talk about that. We didn’t have a product, and it was just me at that point. No product or service. I really took the approach of building an audience, and then figuring out what they needed. When you’re teaching bloggers back in the day, you remember those days. It was much more kumbaya, not very commercial, and so eventually I figured out what they needed was something to sell. What could a bunch of bloggers and writers, creative people, create?

Well, they could create courses. In 2007, the fall, about 18 months from originally starting, I taught people what I had learned about instructional design, and then the intersection of that with marketing, to create online training programs. That was called Teaching Sells in 2007, and we can get into this a little bit deeper because obviously after that we got into WordPress software. We got into hosting, we got into marketing automation. That original product was a long time ago and of course we still have training communities like Authority and our Digital Commerce Academy and things like that. But an online course is one of the best ways to get started, because you have a means of production as someone who can create content, or you can be more of the entrepreneurial producer type and you can figure out the market need.

You can work with freelancers and other people who specialize in this stuff, which is really great. I think this is an excellent series that you’re putting together, and I’m happy to give the big picture from my perspective on where we came from and where we’re going.

Bob: Exactly. That’s why I thought, “Man, who better?” I know you’ve been into the online course arena for so many years, and you’ve seen it all. I’m sure you see exactly where it’s going.

Brian: I have a feel.

Bob: Yeah, you have a feel.

Brian: Anyone who works online and says they know exactly what’s about to happen is selling you something that’s not real.

Bob: Okay, I’ll rephrase that. We will take the insights into your future predictions. How’s that?

Brian: That’ll work.

What has been the key to the growth of online courses in the content space?

Bob: Okay, let’s start with from your own experience, which you’ve had plenty of. When do you feel that online courses really started gaining momentum, and what was the key to the growth of them since that point in time?

Brian: Okay, that’s a great question. This is again, by my perspective, but I was there early on, and I have to make clear that my first three businesses had nothing to do with teaching people marketing, or anything like that. It was legal and real estate, very old school industries made new with online content, using courses for lead generation. This stuff was light years ahead of what anyone was doing back then. But again, no one was thinking about content and audience that way. I think that’s the only smart thing I can claim. I just kind of stumbled on to the right thing early on, and I even owe a lot of that credit to Seth Godin, who his book Permission Marketing basically said, “Oh, this is how it works.” Okay.

I was not an Internet marketer. I was not in that space, but I was a student of copywriting, a student of marketing. You have to be, especially when everything you do, this predates Internet video by a while, is really written communication. You’re looking around at what others are doing. That’s typically how we learned back then. But then in a certain space, and it was that Internet marketing space, I’m not talking about maybe the most scrupulous people in the world. I would learn from anyone. I mean, I understood the influence principles behind what they were doing, I just didn’t agree with their ethics.

Bob: Right.

Brian: I’m the type of person that can say, “Okay, I’m still going to learn everything I can, and I’m just not going to pay you anything.” But that was my first exposure to paid online training courses. It was kind of the Internet cash machine. “I made a million online, you can, too,” which used to be the province of the $97 ebook, right? A very expensive PDF. Then people started moving into actual courses that employed early versions of video, and audio, and multiple modality type education. I’m like, “This is interesting.” I remember in 2005, this guy came on the scene named Jeff Walker, and he had something called Product Launch Formula. That’s a big deal now, and it became almost too much of a thing for many years there.

Jeff’s a good guy. He’s a great teacher. He was teaching his actual experience much like we do at Copyblogger. I bought the course because he was so good at positioning it that I doubted that I knew what he was trying to teach. It turns out I did know exactly what he was doing, but he had an awesome process and an awesome structure. That was a thousand bucks at that time, and I said that’s good money spent, because it validated that I was at the top of this nascent field. I just didn’t think of myself that way. I’m over here, running old-school businesses with new techniques as opposed to being, making a living online or something like that. That’s what I really brought in with Copyblogger, not necessarily that this is some sort of get-rich thing.

It was a new way to build a business by using online content and audience channels. At that point, that’s two years later, I look at the blogging world. They’re trying to make money with advertising. You know it’s hard. It’s hard then, it’s hard now, but if you sold something. Again, that was one of the central or prime theses of Copyblogger, which is you don’t sell advertising, you sell products or services. When I realize that what my audience needs is something to sell, and they’re creative people, content people, then I said, “Okay, I’ve been geeking out for five years over in structural design and all these things, and this is what they need.” Now the first thing I had to do, Bob, because this is a different group than any Internet marketing crowd.

Bob: Yeah, right.

Brian: Remember, this was the blogging crowd and the WordPress crowd, basically. A very different way that you have to market and speak to these people, but they’re paying attention to other bloggers like Robert Scoble. Robert was a very prominent blogger at that time. A nice guy, had some wild ideas sometimes. His idea at that time was that no one would ever pay for content again. Oh Robert, of all the times I’ve disagreed with you. I didn’t even bother to respond to him directly. I knew that I had an issue. I had to convince this group of people, my people that yes, people will pay for content, and here’s why, and here’s a bunch of analogies. Why do we pay for cable instead of free TV? Why do people trust paid content more than Google?

All of these reasons. That was the first piece of content that launched this course, which was basically a persuasive piece designed to say, not only will people pay for it, and here’s why, but this is a unique time and a unique opportunity for you to start doing this. We launched the course. At that point, it was me and Tony Clark, who is now our COO. He was my first partner. We went from zero to six figures in a week, and zero to seven figures in a year. I guess we proved that people will buy courses in a very meta way, but we still keep in touch with those first round of students who have done amazing things in areas outside our world of online marketing and WordPress. But then again, we’ve got people like Carrie Dils in WordPress. You know what I mean?

Over the last 10 years, I can say that I was right, but I don’t even think there’s any credit to be taken there. It was so obvious to me as a business person, and yet some of our thought leaders at that time had some really misguided notions about what people will pay for and why. That’s my brief history, really up to 2007. Now, that caught on again. You had the Internet marketing crowd, you had the more ethical online marketers and bloggers. You had the WordPress crowd. All of us are early adopters. We got in on it, and that’s the argument I was really trying to make. It really took, I’d say 2010, 2012 where it really went mainstream. Now, people are perfectly fine with learning from a practitioner as opposed to a professor.

In fact, it can be seen as more desirable, because it’s real world stuff, and now we’re even seeing the celebrity, James Patterson teaches you how to write, Werner Herzog teaches you how to create, all that kind of stuff. Which is fascinating to me, and I can talk about that more later, but in a nutshell, that’s how it started out. Where we’re at now and where we’re growing is maybe even more interesting.

Bob: Yeah, I started dabbling in WordPress in about 2007, and really dove into it around the next year, then started moving into the whole teaching process of things about 2009, 2010. I feel the same way. There were a lot of times that I would sit there and say, “Wow, people are preaching this, which is totally opposite of what I’m thinking,” or they’re saying something that, “Hey, I’ve known that for a while but I’ve never really realized that it was important, or something that was gaining momentum.” Again I felt like I kind of got in that time in the WordPress arena at the perfect point, and have seen over the last, it’s been about 10 years now, amazing stuff happening. Very cool stuff.

Brian: Absolutely.

Could you share a few tips for people considering a venture into online courses?

Bob: Now, there’s tons of courses out there, and we’re going to be talking about the future here soon, but for the person that’s just considering getting into online courses, can you just give a couple of tips that you have for them even before they make that first move?

Brian: Yeah, that’s a tough one. I mean, my standard advice is to do what I did and what many other companies that are very prominent now, but also just individuals with great businesses have done, which is build an audience first, figure out what they need, and the next step. The thing that they’ll pay for, and then create that. For many people, that turned out to be a course, because they had that audience affinity. They had a relationship as opposed to what we think of as cold, distant marketing and sales type things, transactional type things. It was more of a tribal unity thing, which I think is going to be very important going forward. In order to figure out the right thing to create, even if it’s a course, I would start off giving away content for free to build that audience, because the audience is really the most valuable asset.

They will buy the course. So many people have written books by blogging the whole thing. I’ve given away almost every concept we can think of in one way or another and yet we still have membership communities where people consume premium content that’s better organized. It’s very execution oriented as opposed to the scattershot of “What am I going to blog about today” kind of thing, you know what I’m saying?

Bob: I figured that.

Brian: Building that audience is a testing ground for ideas. It’s a way to build an audience. It’s a way to build your authority and credibility as a subject matter expert. Once you have that, people are like, “Yeah, I’ll pay you to teach me.” You’ve proven it to me.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Online courses is a way to build your authority and credibility as a subject matter expert – Brian Clark” quote=”Online courses is a way to build your authority and credibility as a subject matter expert – Brian Clark”]

Bob: I agree because as many people as I’ve talked to, they always ask, “Well, I’m starting this online course.” One of the first things I always go back to is exactly that. What kind of an audience have you built already?

Brian: There is another way to approach it, if you don’t want to do the audience, and this is really relationship driven. But if, for example, let’s say you have a background in teaching, or instructional design, or live seminars, but you have no audience whatsoever. You can make a quality product, and you understand how to properly determine who the audience is, and position it, and all those good things. Because you have something that’s for sale, and again, this goes back to those few years of God-awful product launches by every Internet marketer in the world, but basically, everyone would promote everything of everyone else.

I’m not suggesting that, but for example, if you created a really great course that was perfect for Chris Brogan’s audience, for example. Chris is a very personable guy. He’ll talk to anyone. You meet him at a conference to tell him about your idea. That’s another way to do it, where you’ve got to get someone who does have an audience to partner with you, do some sort of revenue share. Say it’s 50/50. Then, you have your first success, you have some revenue. More importantly, you’ve got paying customers, and then you’re on your way. That’s another way to go about it, but you are also depending on others liking what you’re doing and agreeing that they will partner with you from a marketing standpoint.

That is a benefit of online courses and products in general. You can build an affiliate program, you can do joint ventures, all of that. That’s the other way to get started, but I would say you better be really good at creating courses if you’re going to take that route. Otherwise, the way to become really good at creating courses is to become really good at creating content that resonates with your audience, and then you take that to the next level with the course.

Should people put their course on someone else’s platform or their own site?

Bob: Exactly. That is a perfect segue into the next question because we’re talking audience. We’re talking using influencers, or people that already have an audience to help you promote it. A lot of times, I’ve talked to people and they’re at that point where, okay, I have a course. Now they’re looking at, should I put this course on my site? Maybe they have a WordPress site, maybe they have some other kind of site, but they can technically put it on their site, or they’re thinking, “Should I go the route of Lynda.com or Udemy.com, one of those platforms, and let them do all the work that I created?” Does that really boil down to audience? Does that boil down to what you have to invest in it? Are there some guidelines or thoughts you have on that, on how they should make that decision or what it should be based on?

Brian: Yes, that’s another good question, and I had this conversation with Carrie Dils on my podcast, because she does work with Lynda, and I know others who do stuff at Udemy. We are vehemently opposed to staking your claim on someone else’s land. You don’t control that. That’s their platform, they have the rules. Now the flip side of that is they have an audience of paying customers, which is valuable. I will never denigrate that. That’s awesome, but here’s the key. How do you extract Lynda’s customers? Even though you’re teaching them and getting a revenue share, those are Lynda’s customers. How do you make them yours?

That means you’ve got to somehow take them out of that walled platform and get them back to your site somehow. Now, I had this conversation with another guy I know who does some Udemy stuff, and I was like, “Well, can you send them back to your site to download some resources?” No, they have rules against that. See, they’re trying to keep you inside their box, and more importantly they’re trying to keep their customers there. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to work around that problem. This is my opinion, and some people may find it offensive, but if you’re working exclusively with in someone else’s platform, you’re not an educational entrepreneur anymore than someone who drives for Uber is an entrepreneur.

Now, I meet lots of entrepreneurs on Uber drives. If I like them, I ask for their card, we get out of the Uber box. They make more money, it’s a better relationship, everything is great, and I don’t like Uber that much anyway. But you get the analogy, right? The entrepreneurial drivers for Uber are existing limo drivers or black car drivers already, and they’re picking up extra business, but they’re also using Uber to pick up good clients. That’s all the educational platforms, but they’re generally going to have the terms of service that restrict you every way they can from making that happen. At least to the extent they can, as far as linking out, or what have you. I’m not completely familiar with the rules, but I did just have a conversation with a guy who’s a pretty savvy marketer, and he was completely, he couldn’t get around the rules in a way that was really effective.

You can do it, but it wasn’t super effective. He’s just at a point in his life where he’s kind of a lifestyle guy, he’s got a professional speaking career. He’s got some affiliate sites. For him, he’s happy, but if you’re looking at this as a business, then getting started there may be fine, but you’re ultimately going to have to move to your own platform on land you own, customer relationships you own, because most of the money is made down the line, not on the first sale. Udemy and Lynda get by that with scale. Most of us little people can not scale like that, so you have to be a little more wily about establishing great customer relationships with your learners, selling them the next thing they need on their journey, whatever the case may be. This is classic marketing funnel stuff.

Bob: Yeah, I think even an analogy of, I thought teaching at Lynda.com is kind of like teaching at a university. You’re one of their instructors.

Brian: You’re a contractor as opposed to an employee, but it’s still very similar. I think you’re right.

Bob: Interesting, because I know that during the time I dabbled in online courses, and didn’t really go to the full extent on that in a lot of ways, but I had several different courses. and they weren’t Lynda.com and Udemy always. I think Udemy might have been one of them who was always asking me, “Would you like to come and do this? Would you like to be part of our growing teaching platform?” When I think back on it, a lot of what was, “Man, I want to keep it. It’s BobWP stuff, I want to keep it there.” It ends up happening, or it doesn’t, which it didn’t, obviously, but that is where I want it to be part of, and that would be part of my business, and not another platform.

Any topics that can be a challenge in the online courses format?

So, very cool. I’m going to actually flip-flop the last two questions, because I want to save your future insights for the very last one, but I had a question that is actually a two-parter. First part is, do you see any areas of interest or topics where doing an online course has had its biggest challenge, and if so, why?

Brian: I want to make sure I understand exactly what you’re asking. A certain subject matter is more challenging than perhaps others?

Bob: Yeah, any that you’ve seen maybe over and over, somebody attempt. I can’t even think of an example, but if there’s any.

Brian: No, I can’t think of an example because …

Bob: There isn’t one.

Brian: No, I mean, they die. People all the time, I taught back in 2007, and I did my latest version of how to build an online training course in our Digital Commerce Academy, but I always lead off with, if you don’t do the work up front. I always use the story of this guy that has a great idea that every small business owner needs, and he spends 10 grand developing the course, and then he sinks more money into getting his site set up and all this stuff. Then it doesn’t sell at all, because he was selling something he thought people needed, but not what they wanted, right?

Bob: Right.

Brian: That happens all the time. The things that fail to break the surface of the water, they’re just invisible. It’s tragic, but that’s why I always say, “Look, if you do the work upfront, figure out what the need is or the want is…” The problem that wants to be solved, what that person looks like, and what you need to deliver to get him there. If you do that work upfront, creating the course become so much easier than muddling through it. That’s my best answer.

Any areas or topics you think are seriously lacking courses?

Bob: Okay, then I’ll do the flip side, which may be just as confusing, or hard to answer, or maybe even more general. Have you seen any areas that there is no courses in, or you feel that it’s seriously lacking courses in that you think, “Hey, there’s got to be some potential there. I wonder why nobody’s doing it?” Because maybe it’s more or less nobody’s really bothered doing it in that particular area, or hopefully it isn’t that everything crashed and burned, either.

Brian: That’s interesting, because my general advice is to go into a competitive market, because that’s where demand is. If there is demand, then someone is probably going to be there already, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. I think we’ll talk about this in a little bit, what you need to succeed is not different information, but a different way to convey that information. It comes down to positioning, and the way you teach, and who you are, and stuff like that. But I have seen in some areas, because online education has become accepted, that you can create courses in a lot of things that you wouldn’t think would work. I’m familiar with a guy named Sean McCabe, I don’t know if you know him.

Bob: No, I don’t.

Brian: He’s a real nice guy, but he basically got his start, he taught himself the art of hand lettering. Do you know what this is?

Bob: Yeah, I know what hand lettering is.

Brian: See, I didn’t. He taught himself this, and then he became a hand lettering freelancer, consultant, whatever. Companies were coming for this type of work. Then he taught other people how to do it, and that just blew my original theory out of the water. Sometimes you can catch an emerging trend, and like Sean did, just really own a category by yourself. Now, as soon as people see that you’re succeeding with it, they’re going to go get into it, which is still good advice, because you can reposition it in a different way. You’re a different person, you’ve got a different ideology, different worldview, whatever you want.

But here’s the danger of stories like that. I think people out there think that they have to catch the obscure new little thing, and that’s almost always bad advice. You’re much better going into an established area looking carefully around at the competition and finding the gap. Find the hole, and sometimes that can just be who you are, or just the way you uniquely think about the topic. You see it with new eyes, right? Then people respond to that, because they don’t care that the information is the same. They don’t know it is. What they know is you’re connecting with them. You’re not going to connect with the whole world, but you’ve got to connect with enough people that sell a viable course.

Bob: Yeah, it’s that old adage of, if somebody isn’t doing it, there may be a reason why.

Brian: My partner Sonia Simone calls that naked mole rat syndrome.

Bob: Oh yeah, the naked mole rat …

Brian: Well, no one’s talking about naked mole rats? That’s because no one cares about naked mole rats.

Bob: Yeah, that is my, I took that. I stole that from her. Actually, Judy stole that from her, and I used that.

Brian: I’m sure she’d be honored.

Bob: I used it in my workshops about finding your niche.

Brian: Hell yeah, absolutely.

Bob: If you love the naked mole rat, you have shirts made out and mugs with the naked mole rat on it. Hey, you may love that thing, and I have a picture of it up on the screen. Everybody’s like, “Oh my God, that thing’s horrifying.”

What are your insights on the future of online courses?

Okay, for the last question, I’m going to have you gaze into your crystal ball and give us some insights on what you think the future of online courses is. I’m not going to put a timeline on it. Maybe in the next few months, the next year or two. Just give us some ending insights from Brian.

Brian: Great question. Okay, so we alluded to, I don’t even remember the name of the company that does the celebrity courses things. I mean, they’re very superficial, they’re very celebrity driven, but that works for people. I think the real future is specialized expertise, true deep dive, not necessarily on the first course. The first course can be superficial, but I think what the independent and smaller group entrepreneurs have going for them is that they can do that. The celebrity courses thing, they’re just going to keep making new deals with celebrities, right? You’re always going to go one inch deep and a mile wide. Again, the way online training really works as a business is you have to bring someone in.

That could be with an ebook, and then there’s the intro course, and then there’s the intensive, the live workshop, all of that kind of stuff. I think that is real education. When we talk about lifelong learning, it’s not the celebrity, how to write a book by James Patterson, who doesn’t even write his own books, and we know that, okay? He used to, but I don’t see that as a threat. In fact, I think that empowers the true subject matter expert. Now, I’m not saying you have to be the world’s foremost authority to do this necessarily, because you can. You only have to be a few steps ahead of your audience in order to teach them what you know.

The other thing that’s interesting about that is that you can become, your expertise can be at creating online courses. This is what I call the producer mindset. The dean of Harvard doesn’t teach classes, right? Is the head of the business, the institution of Harvard. There’s an entire administration staff that handles the business of Harvard. The professors aren’t running the business. I think you’ll find that true with most subject matter experts, like James Patterson and these other celebrity guys. They’ve got people who are in the business of making online courses to work with them. That’s another model. You don’t have to be the teacher, you can be the producer, so keep that in mind, because I think there’s a lot that can be done there.

If you are the authority figure, the subject matter expert, then I think the advice here is the same that I would give to all, just digital marketers in general. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. If you’re not brave enough to speak authentically, and to share your worldview, I’m not necessarily talking about politics, but you get that, right? Businesses aren’t even afraid anymore to say “We don’t like Trump,” or even the other side, because they know that half the world’s going to hate them and the other half’s going to love them. What you want to do is connect with the people who love you. This whole idea of safe marketing, of watered down content that doesn’t say anything, that doesn’t take a stand, you’re wasting your time. I think this is incredibly true of educational entrepreneurs, that right from the beginning you’ve got to find your people, and the way you do that is by, I’m not saying throw your professional judgment out the window and just say anything.

Of course, we all know successful people who have done that. Gary V is an example, Erika Napoletano. I mean, these people, in private we all talk the same, and I’m like, “Dude, I could never be that much me.” You have to be, you have to do what’s comfortable with you without being afraid. You make your own judgment about what you’re going to share, and what context, but you can’t be afraid that you’re going to run some people off because if you do run some people off, that means some people are going, “I like this guy.” If you know your stuff, you know what you’re talking about, you’re generous, you treat your customers great all the time. Not like United Airlines.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You have to do what’s comfortable with you without being afraid – Brian Clark talking about online courses” quote=”You have to do what’s comfortable with you without being afraid – Brian Clark “]

Bob: Right?

Brian: But that’s the key, and it’s the hardest thing. For some people they’re like, “Hell yeah, I’m going to be me. That’s what I want to do.” But for most people, I think it gives us the willies a little bit, because we don’t like it when people don’t like us, even though we know strategically it’s going to make other people like us. That’s who you have to connect with. I think the future is deep, specialized and personal experience that you can either on your own, or with partnerships with those who have it who don’t want to be in the business of creating courses, or it’s got to be what I call tribal or unity marketing, which is where we are in the world now. The Internet has been amazing in that it allows us to meet like-minded people in any topic, and I really do believe that your interests are more important than your demographics.

If you’re a Marvel person, it doesn’t matter if you’re my 12-year-old son or me, because we are both into it, because that’s from my childhood. You’ve got to find your people based on their interests, and then by being the real you, whatever your line is on that, how you view the world, then the intersection of that will create. It’s the same principles behind cults. There’s this great book called The Culting of Brands, and the guy got a lot of flak for it being unethical, but the research shows that most people who join cults are actually pretty well-adjusted, or the cults wouldn’t grow, and most of them are not evil, or benign. They’re not crazy people, and they’re not socially awkward. They’re normal people looking to belong to something, right? That’s what I want to leave you with right there. Find the people who want to belong the same way you do.

Bob: Excellent. I knew there was a reason I had you come in to kick off this series.

Brian: I hope I did it right.

Where can people find Brian Clark on the web?

Bob: I’ll make the next three speakers, as homework, listen to this podcast. Well, this has been great, and I know you might have some things going on at Copyblogger. Anything you want to share? And also, where can people find you besides on Copyblogger on the web?

Brian: Okay, while there is obviously copyblogger.com, from the marketing side, we have an entire marketing library of free ebooks at my.copyblogger.com. If you’re not as familiar with these ideas of content marketing, we also talk about SEO, email marketing, landing pages. It means pretty much everything that we find to be the cornerstone type topics that you need to know, in particular on online courses. Right now, our Digital Commerce Academy is closed. I do not know if we have a waiting list or not. I should know that, but if you go over to digitalcommerce.com, we’ve got a collection of courses, online courses, WordPress, all the stuff we’re basically into, right?

Bob: Right.

Brian: So that may be interesting. We do other stuff, Bob, but in deference to your sponsor, I’m not going to mention it.

Bob: Yeah, you’re too kind. But anyway, do check it out, and also there’s that StudioPress site that I’m very fond of.

Brian: That StudioPress thing.

Bob: Yeah, that little site over there that I was thinking, I don’t know how long I’ve been using those themes. Anyway, I just want to thank you so much for taking the time today, Brian. This has been an excellent interview, and you’ve given us some real food for thought for sure. Thanks a lot.

Brian: My pleasure. You said it, I think this is going to be a great series. I’ll be tuning in.

3 Comments

  1. Janet Wall on April 17, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Thank you so very much for this podcast. Brian’s thoughts are very helpful. I have a WP site that has online courses and webinars (live and recorded). I bring in other experts to create the courses and deliver the webinars, although some of the courses are mine. I will be listening to the other podcasts you have in this series.
    Marketing is my toughest challenge. I wish I could do it better. http://www.CEUonestop.com

  2. Justin Ferriman on April 20, 2017 at 10:17 am

    Great interview Bob!

    Brian’s comments regarding owning the platform really resonate with me. The less control you have over the systems in your business the more risk you assume. For example, a bit over a year ago Udemy changed their policy on courses they permitted. Any course that didn’t meet this policy was removed from the marketplace and anyone who purchased the course was refunded.

    Good for the consumer, bad for the course creator as they didn’t have a say whether or not a refund was going to be issued. It just was.

    Had these individuals owned their platform, this would have never happened. I think this is a primary reason why people turn to us for their courses – because with LearnDash they own the content AND the policies.

    Kindly,
    Justin

    • BobWP on April 20, 2017 at 1:09 pm

      Hey Justin, appreciate your thoughts on this. And yes, I tend to agree as well. I guess my preference for owning my own stuff stemmed from when I first discovered WordPress 🙂

      That is a crazy story about Udemy. I have my own thoughts on that whole platform, but that’s another whole subject.

      Cheers and thanks again for stopping by!

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