I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Dan Miller over the years. I was first introduced to Dan through his popular podcast, I was able to attend several of his live events (think mini conference) with other entrepreneurs. It’s there that you see how genuine Dan is. Since then, I’ve become good friends with Dan and his family. In this podcast Dan shares how he views online education and the opportunities that come with it. I love Dan’s explanation of how to generate $150,000 per year by creating streams of revenue.
Download The Bonus Audio: “Dan Miller’s Top Strategies for Marketing Your Online Courses”
Dan Miller’s Bio
- Many people don’t consider creating an online course because they think their knowledge or experiences in their business can only be utilized in working in their business. Why don’t most people think about transferring their knowledge to multiple areas, like creating courses, selling products or other creative outlets?
- As an author, speaker and coach, most people in that category don’t have much success…what has set you apart?
- Can you walk through your strategy for creating $150,000 a year?
- What is your strategy for creating online courses or products?
- Do you wait until hundreds of people to ask for a product or do you create one earlier?
- How does an online course leverage your own time (teach once and keep earning)?
- What are some ways you’ve used online courses and digital training products to leverage your time and grow your business?
- What are your thoughts on sites like Udemy?
- Are you working on any online courses now?
- What are some tips for someone who wants to create an online course?
- You’ve written New York Times best selling books, you’re a sought after speaker and coach, but what is your best marketing strategy in your own business?
- What are some keys to your your overall success?
My notes and takeaways
- Dan Miller uses his writing as the focus of his business, but doesn’t attach financial goals to writing
- He puts on live events where he teaches others, as well as creates digital materials to teach
- He builds systems, rather than trading time for dollars. The more products he can create to better serve his audience, the more money he makes
- Dan doesn’t create one product for one sale, but looks for opportunities to create a product once and sell it thousands of times
- He recommends having one core message that is the same but the application can change by creating courses, podcasts, and other materials
- Dan shares his success tips for creating online courses, that actually get watched.
- If you’re struggling to market your course, Dan has several fantastic tips on how to get traction and build your audience, who in turn will look at buying your course
- Find his books here,
Download The Bonus Audio: “Dan Miller’s Top Strategies for Marketing Your Online Courses”
Find Dan Here: 48days.com
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Transcript of the podcast interview with Dan Miller:
Jeff: Welcome back to another episode. And I feel like I say this every time, but I’m really excited for this episode. And this time, I’ve gotten my friend and mentor, Dan Miller, on the show, and I, like thousands of other people, are drawn to him for many reasons. But the one that I initially was drawn to him for was his creative problem solving. And even though he is a coach, a speaker, a writer—and we talk about hat in the podcast—he is really somebody that, to me, is the essence of a creative thinker. We talk about how a lot of coaches, a lot of speakers, and writers, they don’t make much money, so how does Dan get so successful? Over the years, he’s built his audience in the hundreds of thousands of people, but he’s just as genuine hanging out with him in how in Franklin, Tennessee, as he is on his podcast and on his other materials.
And so I wanted to get him on the show to talk about really how he has found success. So even though he has hundreds of thousands of listeners on his podcast and readers of his book and blog and materials and his online courses, he gives a lot of good and practical insights, no matter where you are with building your audience. So yeah, he has a huge audience, and that’s great, and so maybe you’re thinking “Ah, it’s easy for him.” Well, he gives some really practical tips, even if you have a small audience or are just starting out.
Now I mention this later in the episode, but I got a chance to ask Dan kind of a really cool personal question about marketing. He is what I consider one of the kings of marketing. He’s very creative in his marketing strategies, so he gives some marketing tips and strategies to market your courses, your products, and even your services. And some of them were pretty creative, so definitely check that out. I made that a freebie for you guys, so if you go to onlinecoursecoach.com/danmiller, you can learn more about that and download that free bonus audio.
So go to onlinecoursecoach.com/danmiller to download that for free.
But before we get into that part of the show, I want to give a shout out to Paul U. And I’m not giving his last name there just for his own privacy, but he sent me an email and asked a great question, and on top of that, he left an awesome review of the podcast. Now, he’s all the way from Australia—which, you know, doesn’t really matter these days what country you’re from—but, Paul, thanks so much for listening, for leaving that question and that review. And, man, the next time I got to Australia, we’ll definitely have to hang out. It’s definitely on my bucket list. I’ve been to five continents; unfortunately, I haven’t been to Australia yet. My wife has, so maybe we’ll make it a point to go there sometime very soon.
But he sent me a few questions that I thought would be helpful to answer on the show. And it sounds like his focus is mainly on finding a job in the eLearning industry. And so I think that’s great, because the eLearning industry is booming. Not only in small companies, medium sized companies, large companies—but also with individuals creating their online courses. So I think now is a great opportunity to surf the market with your skills. So to Paul, to you as a listener, if you’re thinking about getting into this industry, whether it’s just for yourself, just creating your own course to sell to your audience, or to get a fulltime job working for a company, now is a great time.
So one of the questions Paul asked was “Can you give me advice on how I can transition into the eLearning industry?” And so I sent him an email with some of my thoughts, but I wanted to expand on them in this podcast. If you’re looking at getting a job in the eLearning industry, there’s a couple things I would recommend. First of all, since we’re on the show with Dan Miller, definitely read his book 48 Days to the Work You Love, and part of that book is looking internally, finding out who you are, who you were created to be, how you’re wired, and that will really help you find out how you can best serve your future employer. And he also lays out how to target companies that you would love to work for, and send out the resume and do the traditional process, but in a different way, and in a way that, to me, is more effective. So definitely pick up the book 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller. It’s a New York Times bestselling book. It’s on one of my bookshelves here. I’ve actually got a couple copies—I think a couple of them are signed even… I’m kind of a nerd like that.
But that’s one of the things. Go through his book and find potential companies that have a fit and pursue them. Don’t look for different ads of different companies looking for people, find the ideal company that you want to work for and go after them.
Another thing is comment on the blogs of the eLearning companies that you want to work for. Get on their radar. This may take a while to target different companies, so start now. And this is a great way for people to get to know you. If you, every once in a while, pop into their blog and write a comment, it’s going to get noticed. Same thing with social media. Retweet their articles. Comment on their Facebook wall if they have one, and just get involved. Not in a creepy way, not every single post, but just subtly let them know that, hey, you’re interested in the type of company they are and the type of content that they’re creating.
Another thing is ask to guest post articles for them. You know, a lot of times, companies, they struggle for creating content. They know that content is good for SEO, for engagement, and things like that, but they don’t have the time, the personnel, the resources. So if you drop a line to a couple companies and suggest or ask that you could create some different articles for them, you might get some really good responses. I’m sure some of them won’t give you the time of day, and that’s fine, but think of a couple different really good articles. Maybe suggest two or three different articles and see which ones they want you to write.
Now you might be tempted to send out the same article to all the different companies…. Well, you might have to create a different title for each, different content, because you definitely don’t want to create the same article and copy and paste that to multiple companies. That’s gonna get you probably in some hot water and definitely not good for SEO.
Some other things you could do are create short video tutorials on your YouTube channel and build an audience up around you. And this will showcase your expertise when potential employers are looking at what you’ve accomplished. And so that’s a way to showcase, “Hey, this is what I’ve done. I’ve created all these videos. I’m not just passionate about doing this for pay, but I also like to do this in my spare time.” Also showcase work at your past jobs. What have you created? Who have you taught? What have you build? Show some different things that you’ve done to, again, position yourself as that industry expert in your specific area.
Find something that might be either challenging for a lot of people or something that you’re very experienced in that will set you apart from others. If you come in and say “I do everything from article writing to video creation to X, Y, and Z,” maybe in a small business, that would be advantageous, but in a larger company, you may want to have a specific area of expertise that you’re known for.
And then the last thing, and this list by no means is the exhaustive list, post articles on other eLearning websites. Websites like elearningindustry.com, and there are many others, that you can post your articles there, and then you can say “Hey, I’ve been a guest blogger/a featured blogger/a writer”—whatever the term may be—“for these industry websites.”
So those are just a few ways that I would position myself to serve the eLearning industry if I was looking to get a traditional job in that Industry. Now, you may not want to dive into the eLearning industry, find a company get a fulltime job, etcetera—you may want to build your own brand, build your own business, so maybe you can target ten or fifteen different companies and serve them. Maybe they’re small businesses. Maybe they have fifty employees, maybe they even have a HR department and they need training material, they need content, they need an LMS—a Learning Management System—and you can provide that for them. So it might be as simple as just creating—or finding ten or fifteen companies that you can serve.
And then lastly, another way is maybe you can build an audience and serve them just like Dan has in this podcast that you’ll be listening to.
So, again, those are just a couple ideas that will definitely get you off to a good start. Keep me updates, Paul, let me know how this advice comes through and what you’ve done with it. And to the audience, if you have a question, shoot me an email at jeff (at) onlinecoursecoach (dot) com, or through the contact form on the show notes page, will get to me as well.
Now I do want to read Paul’s review because, well, hey, it encourages me. Makes me feel good. So I’m gonna go ahead and read that. And again, Paul, thank you so much for the review. It’s actually in the Australian iTunes store, of course, because that’s where he’s writing this from. So that’s pretty cool to have different ratings and reviews in different countries. I appreciate that, Paul. He said: “This is a great topic for a podcast. I love Jeff’s enthusiasm and interesting guests on the show. Jeff helps to uncover the ins and outs of delivering great online courses, he certainly comes from a place of passion, authority, and authenticity. Check it out.” Man, Paul, that is awesome. I really appreciate that.
And to anybody else, I really love getting these ratings and reviews. It really helps get more people to see the show. You can go to onlinecoursecoach.com/reviews to leave a review in the iTunes store, and don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, or the other podcast apps, that’d be great.
So let’s get into the interview portion of the show. And a little bit of background on Dan, if you don’t know him, you are in for a treat. He is widely respected in several different areas. One is finding or creating work that you love, but he’s also built such a large audience that he has a lot of training material, online courses and content, that really helps. And he’ll talk about some of the products and some of the courses that he’s created, which is really cool.
I’m trying to remember how many years ago… Probably seven or eight years ago, I first was introduced to Dan through a podcast. I’m a big podcast listener, hence why I’m recording my podcast here now, and I came across his podcast where he just had a local radio station in Nashville, and I think he had a three hour show where he would answer question. And they took, I think it was an hour, maybe forty-eight minutes, of that show and put it on iTunes. And I stumbled across it and I just—oh man, I loved those episodes. Ever since, I’ve probably listened to every single episode. And he comes out with one every single week, so multiply that by the seven or eight years that I’ve been listening, and that’s how many shows it is. I hate to do math on the air, so I’m not gonna do that live. I’d run out of fingers.
So it’s really cool to hear his podcast, read his books, his blogs, etcetera, and then I had the opportunity several years ago to go down to one of his live events in Franklin, Tennessee, at the place called the Sanctuary, which is a really cool place he’s created down there, and get to know him, get to know his family, get to know the other attenders, and you see the family atmosphere that his live events are. And that’s how I got to know him personally. I’ve also had the opportunity to produce some videos for him and we’ve become friends, which has been awesome. We’re also in a mastermind group together, and it’s been really cool and a good source of inspiration, encouragement, and a way to see how a rising tide lifts all ships.
At the end of the show, I’ll give you a link to a bonus audio—but hey, I’ll just give it to you now in case somehow you don’t make it to the end of the show, which, come on, why wouldn’t you make it to the end of the show? But if you go to onlinecoursecoach.com/danmiller, you can go to the show notes page where you’ll find a download to this free bonus audio. And I asked Dan a really cool question about his marketing strategies, and I think you’ll be surprised at some things he talks about that have been some of his best marketing strategies to grow his business. We’re talking about he’s a writer, he’s a course creator, and some of the things he talks about are really cool, and some of them might surprise you. So definitely check that out at onlinecoursecoach.com/danmiller.
If you don’t know Dan Miller, don’t know about him, don’t know what he does, he specializes in creative thinking for increased personal and business success. He believes that meaningful work blends your natural skills and abilities as well as your unique personality traits and your dreams and passions. He specializes in helping others create meaningful work and is a master as creative solutions. He’s created several online courses, and we’ll talk about those in the show, but Dan, thanks for being on the Online Course Coach podcast!
Dan: Well, thanks, Jeff. I’ve been looking forward to it!
Jeff: Well, Dan, many people, they’re in their job, they’re doing their business but they don’t consider creating an online course because they think their knowledge or experiences in their own business really his kind of stuck working in their business. So why don’t most people think about transferring their knowledge to multiple areas like creating courses or selling products or other creative outlets?
Dan: I think sometimes we value less what we know so well. When something comes easy to us, we just assume that everybody knows that, why would that have value? Everybody oughta know that? And yet, that’s not true. We tend to look at things where we need knew learning, new knowledge, and other people are doing the same thing. So something that comes easily—because you have years of experience or expertise there—may be exactly the thing that is your Acres of Diamonds, so to speak. You can present and other people can access that.
Jeff: You just mentioned Acres of Diamonds. Great book. For the audience that hasn’t read it, give a brief synopsis of what that book is all about.
Dan: Oh, it’s a wonderful little book by Russell Conwell, written years ago, about this South African farmer who had a little farm. But he kept hearing about these people who were over on the Gold Coast finding diamonds. He thought “I’m not gonna die this poor little farmer hear on this decrepit piece of land. I better go find diamonds.” So he sold his little farm for a pittance and went to look for diamonds. A couple years past, finally in a fit of frustration, he threw himself into the ocean and drowned. Mostly a true story. Never found diamonds at all.
Back in the little farm the he sold, the gentleman who had it them found this interesting looking stone and put it in on his mantle. A couple days later, somebody came in, said “Where did you get that stone?” He said “Oh, right here in this little creek that runs through the farm.” Turns out that little creek running through the farm turned out to be one of the richest diamond mines in African history.
And the moral of the story, obviously—especially for being a true story—is that sometimes we overlook what’s right under our nose really does have value. You know, the old adage the grass is green on the other side of the fence is true for all of us. We think “Oh, if I could just get over there.” “If I just had this degree.” Or “If I just would have gone in that direction,” and we undervalue what’s right under our nose may in fact be our greatest asset.
Jeff: Yeah, it’s a great book. Definitely one of those, you know, gotta read it every now and then just to refresh your mind and get your creativity flowing. So, Dan, I know you specialize in coaching, in speaking. You’re an author. And really, you love helping others create meaningful work. And I view you as a master of creative solutions. So, because you’re an author, a speaker, and a coach, most people in your category may not have as much success as you or may not have any success. So what sets you apart from people in your industry?
Dan: Wow, that’s a great question. And a tough one to answer, because certainly, I wasn’t raised with any unique advantages. In fact, if people look at how I was raised, they would assume that what I was raised in was a disadvantage. We were very poor. Yet, as I look back, I think maybe that was an advantage. Not having radio or TV in our house, for example, drove me to books, which opened a world of opportunity to me as they do continue today. And in reading, then I became interested in writing, so that who series of what could have been a disadvantage actually was a great advantage to me. There’s nothing unique that sets me apart other than just clear focus and intentional action.
I am very intentional. When I decide I’m going to do something, I create a clear plan for that that’s gonna look like. I’ve never had a boss looking over my shoulder, so it’s always just been me. I’m my own harshest test master, but I decide what I want to accomplish and I have fun. I’ve never done work that I didn’t really enjoy, and I just have fun setting out these things that I’ve not done before. And believe me, that’s what excites me most. If there’s one thing that I’m going to sabotage quickly, it’s predictability. If something becomes predictable, even if it’s successful, I’m likely to start chipping away and sabotaging that, because I like a challenge of going into areas where I really am not very proficient YET. I love the learning process.
Jeff: That’s good. Now, I’ve heard you talk about how to create a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year through different revenue streams. Can you talk a little bit about that strategy?
Dan: Yeah, it turns out—you know, I did that kind of just impulsively, like most things. I just threw it out there. I’m big on what Eric Ries in the Lean Startup calls a minimally viable product. I don’t wait until things are perfect. I just put it out there, and I did a presentation on how to leverage your intellectual knowledge for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars this year, and it really got a lot of traction. In an interview then, with Michael Hyatt—his most viewed video he’s ever had. I had a pastor call me the other day and said he’s watched that video twelve times [inaudible [20:44]. But in that, I talk about identifying your core message. You don’t have to be an author, you don’t have to be [inaudible [20:52], you don’t have to be all those things. Just identify what is your core message that you want to share with the world? Then it’s a matter of repurposing time. How can you allow people to experience that in multiple ways?
As an example, people may ask me “Dan, I have this training that I’m doing. Should I do a workshop, seminar, ebook, traditional book, an online course”—well, you know where I’m going with that, Jeff. My answer is do them all. Allow people to choose how they want to experience your message. There’s no one right way to deliver. But the power of leverage is phenomenal. And it expands dramatically our ability to create financial income as a result of that. There’s not many coaches I know that make a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. There’s not many authors I know that make that much money. But if they know their core message and the leverage that in multiple ways, then it really opens the door to that and more.
Jeff: Yeah, and that’s so good. And that’s one of the reasons why I’m such a big fan of your materials. Your ability to see all those areas or avenues that many people don’t, or don’t think about—about using that. Talk a little about your Venn diagram and how you’ve built that out for your services and your expertise.
Dan: Yeah, I use a Venn diagram, as you referenced, which is really—mine is three circles. And if you have three circles that overlap, at some point, all three overlap so you have something in the center. For me, that is my writing. Now, interestingly, I don’t attach any financial projections to my writing. My writing really serves just as a calling card, introduce people to the other things that we do at 48 Days. That may seem counterintuitive, and authors, it drives them nuts because they want to write a book and then sit back and wait for those big royalty checks to show up in the mailbox, which they aren’t gonna—that’s not gonna happen.
But what I do is use writing just as an introduction. So then we do have live events at the Sanctuary where people can come and learn about a specific topic in a two day event. I do speak at different conferences where I get a chance to share that. We have a pretty robust product suite, as you know, so we have a lot of the products that we’ve already alluded to—traditional books, instructional manuals, three ring binders full of information, ebooks, audio courses. Just different things like that. And then the combination of those, and then us having relationships, we doing the coaching, we have a mastermind. Those are all just ways that people can kind of experience my core message, but they’re very different ways.
Most of those are systems that are in place that do not require my personal time. So if Joanne and I go somewhere for a week, it really makes no difference in my income. It’s not built on me just trading time per dollar. That’s another really key concept in this whole thing. You know, Jeff, about how to leverage your message. You have to move from linear to residual income. But we have so many options for which we can do that today, it’s just phenomenal. And there are people who are professionals who are paid very well, but they don’t understand any method of income generation but linear. Attorney, dentist—they get paid very well. They do their work, get paid. It’s one and done. That bothers me. I would no sleep at night if I had that kind of a business.
Jeff: Now, what advice would you have for somebody—talking about the Venn diagram, and again, for you, that’s kind of these three circles that intersect and they meet in the middle, like you said with your writing. So it encompasses your writing, your speaking, your coaching, your events and all of these other areas. When you’ve coached people on maybe crafting their business or even their own Venn diagram, is there any guidelines for spreading that too thin? I know a lot of people, they want to create a course on personal finance and maybe a course or a podcast on a totally different topic. How do you reign in all your ideas, if you’re a creative person, and put them in the Venn diagram that has the most success?
Dan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I hope I can convey this—but if you have those three circles that are together, then we can draw over them a big common umbrella. Well, I want everything to fit together so that activity in any area of that Venn diagram fuels activity into the ones that it adjoins. So it’s not like on Thursday, I’m installing a sunroof in a car and on Wednesday, I’m doing landscaping, and on Friday, I’m speaking somewhere. No we don’t want unconnected things. We want things that have a common core, like that common message.
That’s where people get off track on this. They think “Well, this allows me to do ten different things and just throw them under the same roof.” They think that they’ll somehow just all work. A lot of people are too diverse in what they’re doing. I want the same message to be here if I’m speaking, if I’m coaching, if I’m selling a product, if I’m doing a live event. It still comes back to the same core message. I think if you do it in that way, you could be a landscaper. You could have the same applications that I have but they all oughta relate to that one core message. Like our friend Jeff McManus who talks about turning weeders into leaders. Wow, that’s great. You could do exactly what I’ve talked about with that being a very different message than what I have to share, but still have the same application for those multiple areas.
Jeff: Yeah, that’s so grea.t and that’s one thing, again, a lot of people try to spread themselves too thin or try to go here and there and do all sorts of things, but they don’t have that common message, that common theme that they’re trying to convey.
So let’s turn it over a little more focus on the eLearning and online course side. So I think I know the answer for this, Dan, but what’s your strategy for creating online courses or products? Do you wait until hundreds of people ask you or less than that?
Dan: I do. I have a strategy for that, and it’s pretty simplistic. My kind of motto, for years, has been if three people ask me the same question, I create a product to address that. And it’s really bene that simple. But that philosophy has opened a whole lot of doors of opportunity for me. I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Dan: I wrote, and it kind of evolved, 48 Days to the Work you Love. I just wrote up a Sunday school class. It wasn’t my intention necessarily, but people kept asking for it. I keep creating materials to address their questions, and in doing do, that went on to be a New York Times bestseller and continues to do really—really rock force out there. Then I started having people ask me “How can I do what you did as an author? I’ve got a book as well, but it only sold five thousand copies. How can I knock it out of the park with what you did?” Well, when I had consistent people asking me about that, I said—and I share openly, very open about what I’ve done and what has worked. But instead of just doing that repeatedly, “Why don’t we have an event here at the Sanctuary,” this little barn on our property. “We’ll just have people come in and spend two days and I’ll tell them everything I know about how to leverage your books.” So we did that.
Same thing happened with coaching, which is something I’ve always been doing as well, helping people through these inevitable, relentless transitions. And people were saying “How can I do what you’ve done in coaching? I hear people talk about you, I hear people talk about your results. How can I do that?” So we developed another training program for coaches. Now, again, those are very tightly woven together because the core message is the same, but at one level I’m help authors, at one level I’m helping coaches. That kind of strategy has just worked for me again and again and again. We’ve rolled out a lot of products where a couple people asked me about it, we just create a product to address that need.
Jeff: You know, I really like that idea, Dan, because you’re using your audience to give you insights on what they want. You’re not just creating training material, products, or things and throwing it out there and then nobody buys it. You’re waiting for people, a lot of times, to tell you “Hey, what if you had this?” or “Could you do this?” and then you create it for them. And so it’s really just—it’s not just meeting the demand, but it’s serving your customers, serving your audience in a whole new way. I think that’s really cool.
And so, to the audience, to the listener here, what is your audience asking you to do? Do you keep having the same questions come up? “Hey, what if you created this course?” or “Could you do this for us?” I would guess your audience, even if it’s somewhat small, maybe even people you work with, your family even, maybe they’re asking the same thing, and how can you develop a course or a product to better serve them?
Now, Dan, I know that you’re big on leverage. You said before, many times, that you don’t like to do one project for one person. You want to create something once and sell it to the masses. So what are some ways you’ve used online courses and your digital training products to leverage your time and grow your business?
Dan: Well, the things that I’ve done right to the bank—W-R-I-T-E where we show writers how to leverage their writing and produce significant income from that. Did that first as a [inaudible [30:59]. It was just Tuesday evening, I had seventy minutes, I just did it. Response was so phenomenal that I immediately saw the potential for turning that into an online course. So we just took the recording of that and a PDF of my talking and turned it into a product that is sold day after day after day now about seven [inaudible [31:21]. That’s the power of just recognizing what people are asking for.
Then that opened for the door for a live event that we did here several years [ago]. We did an even where people paid a thousand dollars to come to that, straight to the bank. So there’s been a lot of things like that where I’ve seen an opportunity threw it into a product people were asking for, and we turned it into a course. My goodness, the recent books I’ve written with my son, Jared, Wisdom Meets Passion. I was asked by a local university here in Nashville to teach that as a college course, which I agreed to do one time. Teaching it ongoing is not in my business model at all. I don’t want to be locked into four days a week going somewhere and standing in a classroom with thirty people. But I did it one time just to test “Will this go well?” Engagement was phenomenal. But in doing so, then I created a field guide that accompanies the book that is now being used.
48 Days to the Work You Love, there’s way more product. We’re just in the process now of relaunching the 10th Anniversary edition of the book, which is a brand new book, new workbook, all new online course training for that. And we’ve got organizations that are waiting in line to have that release.
Jeff: So what are some of the materials, or how are you building that? Is it video based, is it text based, is it both, are there quizzes? Kind of walk through that process. I know the audience would love to hear kind of behind the scenes on what you’re building.
Dan: We’re really in an interesting time right now, because some of what I’ve alluded to, on 48 Days to the Work You Love, that has been taught in a lot of different universities. It doesn’t line up perfectly with academic certification. I’ll just choose to teach it on the fly. But when we look at certification, there are requirements that defy everything that I stand for in terms of [inaudible [33:18]-:23]. To me, education is broadening your life with learning and that will take place as you’re traveling through Switzerland more so than sitting in a classroom and just regurgitating what’s in the textbook.
Academic certification requires certain things like seventy-five hours of coursework. Doesn’t matter of the content can be conveyed easily in forty hours. You have to artificially create seventy-five hours. Their model, then, for proving your understanding of that, and that’s all we’re doing, is to regurgitate what was in there. So we have quizzes, tests, where you feed back information that was in the textbook. And what that means, Jeff, and this just absolutely destroys me, if that a student could get an A in the course 48 Days to the Work You Love and yet never get that first job, never get a promotion, never find their passion, work that they love, never start their own business. They could fail at all those parameters by which I measure success and still get an A in the course.
So I’m really outside the academic model. I’m happy to be there, frankly, because I think the academic model we have in the United States right now is the next bubble that’s gonna burst. And there are a whole lot of people that are saying that. People like Mark Cuban and Mike Rowe and some more people that are seeing what’s happening. It’s a really broken model where we’re encouraging students just to fill their head with the knowledge that you can access from an iPhone in three seconds. Why would to fill your head—what we want are to help people solve problems. Come up with solutions, unique ways—creative ways to relate to other people.
Those are the kind of things I want to convey, and so the proving confidence in my courses is not just a matter of feeding back what the materials say, it’s describe to me a project that you’ve worked on. Let me see a blog that you wrote. Tell me about the little lemonade stand that you had last year or the woodcarving business that you just started. Tell me somethings that you’ve done where you’ve put legs on an idea and created an economic model that will benefit you. And I mean, obviously you—get me on my high horse on this and you can’t talk, because it’s such a hot issue with me. I want my material to change people’s lives, not just fill their head with knowledge.
Jeff: Well, and it’s interesting because—and I haven’t talked about this on this podcast very much—I’m actually a terrible test taker. That was one of my weaknesses in school. I could know the material frontwards and backwards but when it came time for the test, it just threw me for a loop. I’m sweating bullets and I just didn’t do well on tests. And so, you know, just the fact that you’re passionate about not being so academic and more application driven, more results driven, is fantastic. And I think, like you said, that’s only going to be more and more prevalent as people want results. Doesn’t matter if you got a whatever grade. You could look through history at the people who failed college, dropped out of college, and they’re doing alright. They’re quite successful in life and in business.
Dan: There’s a lot of research to support that. Getting a 4.0 in college is not a good predictor of any kind of success by however we measure that. We have to move past this knowledge, understanding and application. And unfortunately, a lot of our academic program doesn’t require that. We just show knowledge and that’s it. Knowledge doesn’t do anything for you unless you move all the way through that.
Jeff: So what would you say for you—and I know everybody has different personality styles and preferences, but for you, what makes an online course interesting and interesting enough for you to purchase the content, purchase the course?
Dan: There’s certain unique, specific areas of application. There’s one that I just went back and reviewed this week. It’s Brendan Burchard’s course on his Partnership Summit. And he talks about how he gets sponsors for his events. So the participants, whoever they are, are really just the icing on the cake. Most people approach that totally different. They want to structure it so their big revenue comes from charging people who walk in the door. Brendan says “Hey, I don’t care about that because my money comes from sponsorship.” That’s an important area of information for me. So I have that available for me to go back and review it.
I just purchase Ray Edwards’ course on copywriting. That’s not something that’s been a real big focus for me. I just kind of do what I’m pretty comfortable with, but I know that I could do it much better. These days, sales letters are very important. I don’t want to get caught up in hype and manipulating people at all. I want it to be clear, specific so that people do say “That’s something I want to participate in.” So I just purchased a course on that. So the courses I purchase are very specific to the kind of business that I’m in. I could be pulled into other areas of just general interest. Frankly, I don’t have a lot of time to do that, so the time that I do invest, of course, are things that do relate to the business I already have.
Jeff: Talk a little bit about your Udemy course. I know you’re big into masterminds, you enjoy being in them. We’re in one together, which has been a great experience. Talk about that course. Even how you created it, and the process of being on Udemy.
Dan: One of the things that I’ve been asked many, many times is about a mastermind group. Part of that—well, a lot of that is because I’ve always been involved in mastermind groups. Greg Mason, [inaudible [39:15], Benjamin Franklin. People like CS Lewis had inklings, studied those for years, and years and then Napoleon Hill of Think and Grow Rich talked about the mastermind concept. I’ve always sought out and been a part of mastermind groups. Dave Ramsey and I started a mastermind group about eighteen years ago. And he and I mention it periodically and I’ve had a whole lot of people say “Can I get in there?” Well, no you can’t, because you can’t have an open ended mastermind. That defies the definition of a mastermind. But my encouragement always was “Why don’t you just start your own?” and then people literally would say “How do I do that?”
So I wrote a little ebook, about sixty pages long, How to Create Your Own Mastermind. Titled it initially 1+1=3, because there’s that kind of synergistic power in connecting with like minds. Well that little ebook, it sold for seventeen dollars, really went nuts. We sold thousands of that. And I thought, “You know what? That has that much unique value. I bet I could up the ante a little bit.” We pulled that back in, it’s no longer available as a seventeen dollar ebook. I spent one afternoon doing videos. We took the text, the PDF that I already had, enhanced it a little bit with a combination of eight short videos—the total of the videos is a little less than sixty minutes—eight short videos and a PDF. We created an online course that’s no available on Udemy for forty-eight dollars. And that continues to sell day after day after day.
It’s something that was an experiment for me. I had somebody encourage me to do it. We’re using their infrastructure, doesn’t require bandwidth on our servers or anything. It’s very easy to plug it in. a very great economic revenue sharing model with Udemy. So I love them and I’ll certainly be doing more for them with those kind of things.
Jeff: What are some tips for somebody that wants to create an online course? You’ve created a lot of digital training products, a lot of courses, you’ve written a lot of books and blogs and—but what are some easy steps or tips for somebody who wants to create their first online course?
Dan: Fortunately, there’s some really good tutorials, whether it’s Udemy or Linda or whatever it is out there, wherever you’re gonna put it. They all have really good tutorials on helping you to understand how to engage with people. The videos have to be engaging, they have to be energetic, upbeat. There’s some things we see out there where it’s somebody—and I was linked to an online course recently with the company that wants my content in their panel of offer. They’d like me to do a course. It was the most boring thing I’ve done.
It was—they had a single video camera and there was a professor at the front of the room he talks. For thirty-five minutes. There were no graphics, no charts, no bullet points, no fallouts—nothing. It was just a camera on him talking the whole time. You gotta be kidding me. They thing this is online training? That doesn’t engage people.
You know much better than I, in this world of video, how you have to make it interesting you don’t have to over produce. My things are pretty simple. It’s just videos that are kind of informal as I am. It may be just me walking around the property here, sitting in my chair in my office. So they aren’t over produced, necessarily, but they’re warm and engaging and real. You have to connect with people. You have to be enthusiastic. Those are the kind of things people are gonna respond to. It can’t just be raw content.
We’re in the process of just releasing another book. But we’re working with a publisher because our desire is that when somebody picks that up, there’s an aesthetic feel to it. We want the cover to be embossed. We want the pages to be wider than a normal book so it’d lay flat open, we want it to be ivory paper with brown ink on the—so it has an artistic feel. We very much have a clear sense of what we want this book to feel like. It’s not just a matter of sharing content with words on a page.
So the same thing is true with online courses. If you’re just sharing content—you know, just put a PDF out there—that’s not enough. With an online course, you oughta be engaging with humor, entertainment, things that keep people’s interest if you’re going to be successful at it.
Jeff: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because I see so many courses, even online tutorials on YouTube, that are just so boring to watch. And so, you know, it’s really important for the person, for the trainer, for the person it’s teaching the material that they first of all have a plan, they’re short and succinct, and that they’re interesting. So that could be using humor, that could be using your personality, and you know what, it could be as simple as smiling when you’re on camera, behind the microphone, or creating your produce. And so I’m really glad that you brought that up. The training material doesn’t have to be boring, it shouldn’t be boring, because then the user, the student probably won’t listen, watch, or remember the content.
We as students or we as consumers, we all want engaging material. We want to be challenged, we want to think things through. We don’t want it to be boring. But yet, when we do our own courses, a lot of times, we’re boring. We don’t smile, we’re not engaging, we don’t show support materials. There’s a lot of things we can do as the instructor to help that material not be boring or to be more engaging. And so, to the listener, don’t forget that you’re not just delivering content. In a way, you’re selling yourself because you are the industry leader, you want to make sure you—of course you want to come off as credible, but you want to come across as something you enjoy. You enjoy teaching this, you enjoy this content, and you’re not afraid to have a little fun or be a little light hearted. You don’t always have to be so serious.
That’s one of the things that I do with my company. So whenever we’re consulting or working with a client, especially in the corporate world—because sometimes the corporate world can be a little stuffy or they feel that they have to be too professional. And a lot of times, I say “You know what, just relax. Have a smile on your face. Tell some fun or humorous stories, and let’s try to make this enjoyable.” It doesn’t have to be so serious because, again, the student probably won’t remember it if it is too serious.
Last question here, Dan, where do you think online courses and online training is going in the future? What are some things that you’ve seen or what excites you about online training?
Dan: It’s so accessible. It’s just an exciting time. It used to be that where you live had a lot to do with what you were going to do. Then as we went a little farther in history, it was “Do you have enough money access to go to a university where they have all those books [inaudible [46:38] that don’t have access to [inaudible [46:40]?” Today it’s different. You can be in the ghetto, in Nairobi, Kenya—and those people have cellphones, trust me. With a cellphone, you have access to all the information in the world. With that it opens—it levels the playing field. So it doesn’t matter what your socioeconomic status is. People are [inaudible [47:04]-:07] in the entire universe.
With that, I think it’s pretty exciting. Because that means that you’re really unlimited. If you get clear on what it is you want to accomplish, there’s so many things out there that [inaudible [47:20]-:22] as well, there’s not much excuse. Now, we’re gonna have people that are content with mediocrity. Oh my gosh, there’s people that are just locked into the sameness, that there’s a real attraction to the status quo. They don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to change, but they focus on things over which they have very little or no control, so they’re gonna be whining and complaining about the Supreme Court decision about this, that, and the other thing, politically and the wrong people in the Whitehouse, and their life never really accomplishes anything.
Proactive people—and Steven Covey talked about it—proactive people focus on what it is they have control over. You could take immediate control over your health, the welfare of your children, your career, what you read, what you listen to, what affects you, what your opportunities are—those are things you can take immediate control over. No matter who you are or where you are on the face of the earth, to me that’s extremely exciting. It levels the playing field. No longer just the ones who have a great advantage who get to move up, not at all. You can start with nothing today and six months from now be a player [inaudible [48:33].
Jeff: Yeah, that’s so good. And that’s one of the things that excites me as well, is just that levels the playing field, accessible to everybody, and—even that it’s time shifted. We no longer have to file into the classroom and take attendance and everybody’s in one room. No, it’s when it’s convenient for us, wherever it is across the world.
Dan: That’s right.
Jeff: Well, Dan, I appreciate it so much. I appreciate your wisdom, your insights, and your creativity on creative work that you love, but also these digital courses and digital products that you’ve created. So thanks for being on the show and giving us your insights.
Dan: Oh, my pleasure, Jeff. As you can tell, I love talking about this. Delighted at what you’re doing and that you head this area. It’s been a blast, so it’s been a pleasure being with you.
Jeff: Well, there you go. I had a blast talking with Dan. We talked before and after the show, obviously during the show, and it was great. I’ll definitely have to have him back because he has a wealth of information and what able to give a lot of good tips and insights on his own courses as well as what he looks for in other courses.
One of the main things I pulled out what, you know, he said to keep one core message the same, but have different applications that have change. So maybe you have a theme that you teach. You could create courses, of course, a podcast around the same topic, books, ebooks, blogs. I mean, there’s so many different ways—YouTube videos—so many different ways that you can teach a similar message in different terms. And that actually helps with your marketing. And so, think beyond your course, what are some ways you can get the word out about your online course? Maybe it’s being on other podcasts, maybe it’s starting your own podcast, or some of the other things we talked about in the episode.
So that was one thing that I really learned, one of the many things, but I hope you learned a lot and as much as I did.
So if you have no heard Dan’s podcast, definitely check it out. Go to his company or his website, 48days.com—the number 4-8—dot-com. You can get his podcast there. You could also search iTunes and Stitcher for Dan Miller or the 48 Days to the Work You Love podcast. It is fantastic.
And also, don’t forget that free audio, that bonus audio, where Dan talks about his marketing strategies to sell courses, materials, products, digital course, etcetera. It’s really cool. He offers some really good insights, and you can get that at onlinecoursecoach.com/danmiller. And that’s just the show notes page where I give some information there for you to download it for free.
Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe and rate and review the podcast. Again, that really helps get this show and this podcast to have more visibility. And you can go to onlinecoursecoach.com/reviews. It will actually take you right to the iTunes page where you can rate and review and subscribe there. Or if you use Stitcher, definitely do the same on Stitcher. Just onlinecoursecoach.com/stitcher to go right to that account.
So thanks again for listening to the show. This was a great one. I just loved having Dan on, I respect him so much. He’s a good friend and I know he would give a lot of great content. So let me know what you’re thinking. How did this help you? Shoot me an email, a Tweet, or just go to the website onlinecoursecoach.com and send me a message on how you will use some of the tactics and strategies that Dan Miller talked about.
So until then, keep learning, keep growing, and keep teaching more people through your courses.