Three weird truths behind ten million dollars in online course sales, let’s get started.
My name is Caitlin Bacher, founder, and CEO of Scale with Success®, and I’m on a mission to help course creators all over the world grow their business in a way that is profitable and scalable. We are sharing revealing conversations about what it really takes to scale an online course business to millions of dollars per year. Join us here to discover the tough decisions we’ve had to make, the biggest failures we’ve had to bounce back from, and the learnings that emerged every step of the way. We are so grateful that we have the chance to share it all with you right here on Scale with Success®: The Podcast Built for Course Creators™️. Let’s get started.
Truth number one: being ready is a choice.
So I don’t know about you, but when I made the decision to create my first course, launch my first course, email my list for the first time, post something for the first time on Instagram, every single time that I had to do those things, I did them without waiting until I felt ready. And the reality was that in that minute before I pressed send to send out my first email, or before I pressed post to create my first social media post, I had to decide to be ready. And the reason was because if I waited around until I felt ready, or if I waited around for someone to give me their opinion on whether they thought I was ready or not, I would still be waiting and I would have nothing to show for it.
And the truth is that every single time I took action in my business, I was completely unqualified to take that action step and the reason why is because I had never done it before. And the only way for me to learn how to do something was to do it, to make mistakes, to fail over and over, and over again, and also taking the time to reflect and learn from those mistakes so that I didn’t make the same ones again.
Making mistakes is great, and the key is that you want to be making new mistakes, right? So we know we’re kind of in a trap or that we’re stuck if we’re like, you know what? I am literally making the same mistake over and over and over again, right? That’s a problem. But there’s nothing wrong with making new mistakes, right? Because what that really means is that you’re stretching and you’re growing. And I think a lot of times when people say I’m waiting until I feel ready, what they’re really saying is, I’m scared that it’s not going to work, or I’m scared that I’m going to fail, I’m scared it’s not going to be perfect. And there is no such thing as perfection. There is no such thing as doing something for the first time and making no mistakes and have nothing go wrong, right?
And so putting that expectation on ourselves that, oh, we’re getting ready to try up this big thing, and whether it’s launching your first course, or whether it’s building your first evergreen funnel, or whatever the case may be. If you’re putting all of this pressure on yourself to not only take that action and to take that step, but you’re also putting pressure on yourself that not only do you have to take that step, but that step has to be perfect, that’s ridiculous, right? That’s a perfect example of the kind of thinking that leads people to wait until they feel ready, and then guess what? The day will never come that they actually feel ready. And so they’re sitting there and they’re like, “Why are all these people passing me by.” “Wow, that person felt ready that…” No, they didn’t, nobody felt ready. Nobody felt ready. And I really believe that mistakes are only a waste if when you make a mistake you blame everyone else and you fail to take the learning from that situation, that’s the only time it’s ever a waste. Mistakes are a gift, it’s an opportunity to learn.
Now, there’s a few ways that I’ve learned over the years to mitigate risk for myself in those situations because I am taking action when a lot of times it’s something that I’ve never in my life done before. Number one, I make sure I always have a plan. You always, always, always need to have a plan, you can’t just go in there and do something big without a plan. You need to write it out, you need to… For me, it’s always to get it on paper, I always like to get a second set of eyes of it, what do you think about this? What do you think about that? Get some feedback so that I’m really going in there, and I’ve kind of thought through at least some of the different scenarios that could play out.
The second thing that I always do is surround myself with the right people, people who have done the thing that I’m going to do before. And the reason why is because that’s going to fast-track my success. Am I still going to make mistakes? Yes, a hundred percent. I will still make mistakes, even though someone who’s done it before is helping me, a hundred percent.
However, the true benefit of that is, is that because they have that experience because they’ve done it before, they’re also able to help me kind of avoid some big mistakes that perhaps I would’ve also made. Could be very expensive mistakes that I would’ve also made if I didn’t have kind of their guidance and their ability to look at my plan and give me some feedback on what they think I might have missed. So huge, huge opportunity there. Always make a plan and surround yourself with people who have done the thing that you are looking to do, right? It’s not about copying exactly what they did verbatim, but it’s about being with people who can meet you where you are, so when you’re trying to do that thing, and you make a mistake, and you stumble, and you fall, they’re right there to let you know, hey, you know what? Shake it off, that’s totally normal, I remember that happened to me. Here we go, keep going, da, da, da, da, da, right? So truth number one, being ready is a choice.
Weird truth number two that I’ve learned in making over ten million dollars in online course sales is that I actually started to make more money once I made the decision to stop launching. Now, if you guys are listening, I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times before, that the number one way to scale, the number one way to really grow your business is to launch over and over and over again, right? You need to do a challenge launch and a live webinar launch, and you need to host a live summit, and you need to host this and do that, and host a giveaway and blah, whatever, right? You always have to be doing something live.
And I don’t know about you, but I totally get that that method works for some people, but I didn’t start my business until I was 35. And I had a young daughter and I had no team, and I had no freaking time to be able to execute all of those big life things. And I tried, I really did try. I was like, “Well, I guess this is just what I’m going to have to do.” And so I forced myself into this situation where I was doing live launch after live launch after live launch, and I was just miserable. And I wasn’t the only one that was miserable, my family was also miserable because guess what? When I was launching, I was the worst person to be around. And no matter how hard I tried, a lot of times I would take out my frustration by making a snippy remark at my husband or losing my temper too quickly with my daughter, and I really regret those situations.
And even though it was great to make that launch revenue, I was like, “Something is not right. This is no longer aligned with the values that I have, and it’s no longer aligned with what I want from my life.” And so I kept launching because, to be honest, I didn’t know there was another way. And I’ll never forget when I was at a Mastermind, and I was talking to this one guy, and he had sold… I think at the time, his course was like $300. It was on home organization, how to organize your home office. So it was really, really specific, right? 300 bucks. And so I was talking to this guy, and he was like, “Well, if you don’t like launching, why are you still doing it?” And I was just like, “Well, duh, because I want to make a million dollars.” Right?
So at the time, I was making around six figures, and I was like, “Man, I want this to be my seven-figure year.” And he was like, “Why don’t you just create an evergreen funnel to sell this thing?” And I was like, “Oh, yeah, those never work or those are never profitable, or the only way those work is to spend a ton of money on ads or the only…” I had all these excuses, all these things that I had heard. And he’s like, “Let me show you something.” And so he basically opens up his laptop and I kid you not, it was like that moment in pulp fiction when they open a briefcase and then like, yup, everything is like kind of glowing.
Basically, what he showed me is that he was making multiple six figures from selling one course with an evergreen funnel. And he was so patient with me, and he literally went through… This was not even a host of the Mastermind, this was just some guy. And so he was going through it point by point every single thing and my mind was totally blown. I had no clue, right? I had no clue that that was what was possible.
And so I remember after that conversation, I went back to my team, and I was like, “You know what? If he can do it, we can do it.” And so I just kind of had that attitude where… Did he map out a step-by-step plan for me? No, he didn’t. So I had to do that for myself, but he was there to kind of give me some feedback on it. Now, I can guarantee, if he at the time, if he had some kind of a coaching program or something where he taught people to do what he had done, a hundred percent I would’ve signed up for that thing in a second, because then I could fast-track my success. However, he didn’t offer any of that. He had a bunch of kids, he was a busy family guy. He didn’t have time to coach me every step of the way, but he did have time to give me a little bit of coaching and feedback.
Now, I can tell you that when I started to go through that process of deciding to go evergreen and to stop launching, at no point in time, did I ever feel like, “Wow, I am fully prepared and this is going to be a big success, no matter what.” There was a lot of self-doubt, there was a lot of fear involved. However, I really decided to just channel my inner Julia Child and have the courage of my conviction to just go forward and give it a try. Because even if it didn’t work out, I had to at least try because this launch after launch after launch thing was just not working for me. And it definitely wasn’t working for my family.
And so the other members of my Mastermind, they were all launchers. So they were always constantly launching. So when I told them this, they were just like, “Nay.” You could tell they thought it was kind of crazy or whatever, but I was like, “You know what? I’m going to try it.” So I did, and that was the year… Prior to that of launching and launching, and launching the year that I finally stopped launching was a year that I had my first million-dollar year. That was the first year when I stopped launching, stopped doing all of the stuff that all of these launch experts were telling me to do.
And by the way, if you love launching, if you are all about the launch life, then have at it, that is awesome for you. It was just not a good option for me, I hated it. I hated the stress, I hated the up and down revenue. I felt it difficult to hire people and build my team because sale was like, one month was up and the other was down, it was just all over the place, so it was so stressful. And at the time, I was the breadwinner for my family, I’m not living on my parents’ couch, right? I got to support myself and my family, so I need to get it together, and this whole up and down thing is not getting me where I want to go. So I made the decision to be ready to go ahead and get my evergreen funnel up and running, and that’s when my business really started to build momentum. And that’s when things really started to take off for me.
And that leads me to truth number three, which is I made more money when I made the decision to sell less products. Now, I know that sounds very counterintuitive. And during that year that I decided to build out my evergreen funnel and really get that up and going, I had to make a decision to do less. And I knew that if I was going to really go all in and build this funnel and get it to where I wanted it to be able to generate seven figures for my business, I knew that I couldn’t give it the attention that it needed if I was trying to do it for all of these other products, or if I was trying to sell all of these other things because learning something new is hard, right? Let’s face it, it’s not always easy. It can be fun to learn something new, but it’s not easy, right? Even if someone is able to be like, “Hey, you know what? Here is a simple plan.” Simple doesn’t mean easy, I am all about simplifying things, but it’s not always easy, right?
So in any case, I always thought that in order to make more money, I thought that there was no way that I would ever be able to generate a million dollars in my business unless I had this value ladder, right? I need to have a course and a group coaching program, and I need to have a Mastermind, and I need to have a VIP day, and I need to have a one-on-one coach, and I need to have this and that, and all these things. I literally thought that, and the reason why is because I saw so many other people doing it. Again, if that’s your bag, if you are into that, have at it. I didn’t want all of that complication in my life, it felt heavy and complex, and I was like, “No, thank you.”
My ideal situation was to be able to sell one course with one evergreen funnel and to be able to scale that to a million dollars inside of one year. Now, remember I was already making money in my business, so this is not like a zero to one million dollar in one year story or whatever. It’s not that. So I was already making six figures in my business. Okay? So I just want to say that, because some people think, Oh, I can do it in a year. It’s like, okay, well, it takes a while, right? Step one, make your first five figures, step two, make your first six, then you make your first seven, then you make your first eight, it’s one step at a time.
And what I found was that when I was able to sell one product, a few things happen. Number one, I was able to really get clear on my marketing because I wasn’t busy with trying to figure out, “Oh, and I want to launch this other thing and do this other thing.” I was able to give this one course my full attention, and I was able to really get creative and unlock some new ideas about how to position that course in a way that would attract more attention. The other benefit of selling one course is that I was able to build out systems to serve my students so that I didn’t have to sacrifice their experience in exchange for more revenue, right? It was always very important to me that yes, I wanted to make more sales, but also I wanted people in my course to actually get the promised result, right? I wanted them to be able to feel supported.
And that was a lot of trial and error, I got to be honest. This was like a few years ago, but it took a lot of trial and error for me to develop these evergreen systems for delivering an incredible client experience and incredible student experience without me having to be, little old me, all alone inside of that course community 24/7. And I know that for you guys that are listening, I know even those of you that are like ride or die for your students, you absolutely love them. I know how stressful it can be when it feels like you can’t even take a weekend off. After you’re eating dinner with your family, you’re checking your phone because you got to check the Facebook group and see, oh, what student is saying this or that, or who needs help and how can I be a better coach, and all these different things.
It’s like, you need to create an evergreen enrollment experience that is not only going to number one, deliver the promised result and give them a great experience so that in turn they’ll be telling all of their friends about the program. You also need to do it in a way that is sustainable for you. And different people have different definitions of sustainable, again, based on what their life looks like. So I can tell you for myself, my husband would travel a lot, it wasn’t just me alone, and I could choose to work 24/7 if I wanted to, and da, da, da, da, da.
Now, I guarantee that if I was living with my parents or if I wasn’t the breadwinner, if someone else was making all the money and whatever, I probably would’ve worked 24/7 to be honest, because I really love what I do, and I get really excited about doing what I’m doing. To be honest, I think it was a good thing that I had the family there to kind of put buffers on when I could and couldn’t work. Because if those buffers weren’t there, I probably would’ve just worked all the time, and it wouldn’t have led me to discover this whole evergreen thing, right? So having that extra stressor of having to be the breadwinner, which meant whatever I had to do, it had to be super profitable. And also, whatever I had to do couldn’t take 24/7, I had to figure out a way to run my business and a way that also allowed me to show up for my family. And during that time when I was going evergreen for the first time, it was very hard. I was doing something I hadn’t done before.
So let me know what you think. What do you think about this idea of being ready as a choice? Has there ever been a time in your life where you didn’t feel a hundred percent ready, but despite that, you felt called to take action anyway? Let me know in the comments. And if you really enjoyed this episode, I would absolutely love it if you could leave a positive review, all of those reviews really help to boost our visibility so that we can help more course creators scale their business with success. I appreciate you being here. Thanks for listening.
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