Back in October Andy and I almost repeated an enormous mistake.
We were moments away from committing entrepreneurial suicide. Fortunately a single question woke us up from our sheeplike slumber and drastically changed the way we create, market and do business in the world. We have a funny feeling there are going to be many more who follow in our wake too.
Are you ready to hear a story worth sharing?
Andy lives on the Big Island of Hawaii and I live on Salt Spring Island BC. For two years we cultivated a friendship and eventually business partnership without ever being in the same room as each other.
Last October Andy flew to BC so the two of us could upgrade our website, eCourse content and launch funnel sequence for our old course, “The eCourse Creation Blueprint” (what a boring name, huh?).
So there we were, five days into the trip and about to dive into a five day marathon of creating all the new content, videos, PDF’s, etc… It was going to be very long days.
As we stood up on a mountain, I suddenly had the impulse to ask Andy a question. This one question has changed our entire approach to how we do business and how we create eCourses.
I asked Andy, “if you’d found our course a few years ago when you needed it most, would you have bought it?”
His immediate answer: “NO.”
We both started laughing.
Then I was like, “ya, me neither. I think that’s a big problem!”
So we started to ask, why wouldn’t we have purchased the course? It did exactly what we said it’d do (help people create a course they’re proud of) and it offered tons of great value at a fair price.
So what was the problem?
The problem was, we weren’t being totally authentic. We were being who we thought we had to be in order to sell our course, rather than who we actually are in real life.
We were following the shitty, cookie-cutter advice of a bunch of internet gurus who tell you to be, talk and do like them. We even convinced ourselves that it must be right.
Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t total sleaze balls, however that was our inspiration behind our video “The Misguided.” Our hearts were still in the right place and we really did want to positively impact other people’s lives. But the truth was now on the table…
We are not experts. We are artists. And we were trying to be experts.
As soon as we had this epiphany, the conversation started to get exciting.
We started asking questions like:
From there, the ideas started flowing and then suddenly a series of words that had never been used in this particular order fell out of my mouth…
“What if we created something like a Great eCourse Adventure……”
My wife Celeste, who was upstairs listening to our laughter and heated conversation yelled down, “I love that!!”
Andy and I looked at each other and froze.
I wrote down the two names we had beside each other:
eCourse Creation Blueprint and The Great eCourse Adventure
and I asked, “which one would you buy?”
We started laughing because the answer was obvious.
I immediately scratched out “eCourse Creation Blueprint.” We had a short funeral service and then there we were, back at square one with only ten days to go in Andy’s trip and this behemoth sized vision to wrap our heads around.
What happened next was pure magic though…
The Great eCourse Adventure concept was birthed around 6pm on that brisk Fall evening. We stayed up until about 4 or 5 in the morning that night, riding a euphoric, creatively inspired high. It honestly felt like we’d just discovered the secret to the Universe… and in a sense we did (our creative, entrepreneurial business universe).
We just kept asking ourselves, “How can we create the ultimate customer experience?” We were in hysterics because of the ideas we came up with at times.
1) It had to be an adventure. Fortunately, we just set up a green screen recording studio in my house and my business partner, Blair at SoulFam Productions was keen to help create this crazy idea. As luck had it, he had no clue how much work he was signing up for!!
2) Because building eCourses is like going on a creative vision quest, we decided that the journey we were creating would be an adventure to the top of a snowcapped mountain. We’ll call it “Launch Summit” and participants will start their journey way down at Basecamp. Climbing the mountain felt like the perfect metaphor for what it really takes to create lasting, fulfilling success in our lives and businesses.
3) Being passionate about writing skits and comedy, we decided that along the way participants will meet mystical teachers and ummm, interesting characters who would teach the lessons on conceptualizing, building, launching, marketing and selling your eCourse. We committed to at least one new character each checkpoint. (so fun)
Fortunately, our old boring course made for a great template for this wild new, crazy-creative world we were dreaming up. The lesson structure essentially stayed close to the original but everything else was getting a major facelift.
We were setting out to create the Walt Disney World of eCourses.
Our goal was to create an experience that was more engaging than binge-watching your favourite show on Netflix. (we wrote that goal on paper)
4) Next we decided is every participant will get an adventure map when they sign up. Way more fun than a to-do list!!
This magical little map that will show them the lay of the land will also come equipped with little square boxes that can be checked off every time they complete their next exercise.
Our intention was for each video lesson to represent a step along the way. Meaning, the videos would be short, fun and include a specific action step that participants can take action on immediately and see some form of instant gratification or result.
Fortunately, our good friend Michael Mann whose background is in creative design and animation said yes to designing our map, as well as a bunch of the animated, special effecty-type parts in the video lessons. Yup, an eCourse on building eCourses with real life special effects and animations!!!
5) We were also tired of those boring-ass PDF’s that nobody prints off and uses. So we explored Scrivener and Evernote and figured out a way that every participant could get their very own adventure journal where we’d deliver the content and exercises to people could literally fill in the blanks on all the exercises.
This was a genius idea because it organized all of their content for them to build their course in one easy to manage location. Yay to organization optimization. Huge win!!
6) Realizing that community was an essential part of creating culture and supporting participants to the top of the mountain, we developed a super sexy online forum that we called “The Campfire.”
This has been an amazing resource where our participants have been supporting each other with developing their ideas. They have access to us, their eCourse Adventure Guides and they have the opportunity to track their progress as they go.
7) We even created a buddy system that hooks participants up with an “Adventure Buddy” to hold them accountable and have some one on one connection time with other’s on the mountain. This has been invaluable for many.
8) We also decided to throw into the mix a weekly “Coaching Campfire Webinar.” Originally, this was going to be an upsell that people had to pay extra for, but when we gave our heads a shake and got honest with ourselves, we realized that it would be in the best interest of ALL our participants to receive this service at no extra charge. So we included it in the price (without increasing the costt).
The coaching campfires don’t even feel like work to us though. We have a blast. It’s an opportunity for us to prepare new lessons every single week, talk about what we’re going through, bring adventurers on screen to work through their problems and answer the questions of anyone who has something they wanna ask.
There are a lot more creative elements that have gone into the work we’ve done from behind the scenes, but I don’t want this to feel like a self promotional piece that leads to a sale. That’s not the point.
So what happened after we dreamed up this world?
Well, reality set in and we realized now we have to F*king create this beast of an eCourse.
In the following ten days we worked an average of 18 hours per day and in that time we managed to create:
Before Andy left, we started our pre-sales and in the next 8 weeks we managed to make $33,000 in beta launch sales which essentially funded us for the last four months to build this dream. We spent $0 on marketing.
The people had spoken and they were hungry for adventure!
Since October, Andy has come for two 2-week trips and in a week, his second 3-week trip.
Our team has come together, worked out our systems and found great momentum.
At first it was f*king chaotic, crazy, stressful and hard. The days were long, at times the details seemed impossible to wrap our minds around. At many moments we had no clue what we were doing.
In fact, after recording our first three checkpoints (14 videos), we got to the end and realized they sucked, so we re-shot them all in less than 72 hours.
It was nuts. It was also the most fun, fulfilling, exciting thing any of us have other done.
So here we are now, we’re about to launch our beta 2.0 where our next group of Adventurers will begin their ascent on May 30th.
We’ve now completed most of the mountain. Yup, that’s right. We’re still not done building this. We’re approximately two checkpoints ahead of all the participants coming up the trail behind us…
Indeed, they’re aware of that fact and they deeply respect that we’ve shared our entire process so transparently on our weekly Coaching Campfire webinars.
I think the mistake us (before) and so many people make, is they wait for perfection. They wait until they’re done learning or they “feel ready.”
If we would have waited until this eCourse was finished before selling it, we would never have made. We would have quit or gave up. But because we owed it to the 150 people who registered, we had no choice but to keep going, put in the work and deliver what we promised.
It’s funny because what we’ve created has never been done. Nobody in the business world has ever created a course like we have. There was no template. It was an insane idea. There were no guarantees that it would work. There was no data on whether courses like this actually sell.
But it was an idea that we wanted. We wished something like this existed so we could buy it and now that we’ve created it, there are going to be hundreds and hopefully thousands of crazy-ass, brilliant, creative, wildly unique, transformational eCourses circulating the world in the coming months and years.
We believe because we took the risk and followed through to the top of this mountain we dreamed up, we’ve invented a whole new style of online learning experience.
If you want to experience firsthand what we’ve done, then go to our site and watch our sneak peak preview series. Don’t worry, we’re not going to bribe you for your email address and then slam you with messages to buy the course.
It’s all right on the site and you can watch it at your own pace.
We figure, if you really want to buy the course then you will.
I hope sharing our story inspires you to think bigger and to approach your work like an artist would their art.
For us, building eCourses are our art. What is your’s? (share in the comments section below)