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EXECUTION Building and monetizing an educational site

rwhyan

The higher, the fewer
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Aug 27, 2017
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Hey everyone. I've learned a lot from this forum and from TMF so I'd thought I'd give back in any way that I could by writing about my process of building an educational site. Also, writing out my process in a general manner I think will help me look at the bigger picture.

About two months ago I was stuck in a non-action-taking state as I searched for ideas, and finally just decided to execute, as I've read so much on here. I built the site and have created the majority of the content (it is a database of sorts) and launched it three days ago.

I've garnered around 300 users thus far, with an OK bounce rate (35%). The average session time is around 2.5 minutes which is good too (makes sense since the content is written). I've also got about 12 emails from a not very good sign up form (thats like what, 4% conversion lol). I've put in about $100 (domain name + hosting) but I've been resistant to using AdWords quite yet since the site isn't monetized.

Thats my real problem. I started out the site just seeking to provide value (and execute, because I was wasting time searching for "the idea"), but as I continue I realize that it is hard to monetize off this need directly. My site relies on content from others, fundamentally, and to solve the need is to congregate and organize that content. However, this makes it difficult to profit directly off of the need, because it is not my content, and I'd need many others to sign copyright permission forms (and they'd probably want compensation).

Here's one plan I'm considering.
1. Keep growing site using free methods (posting on sites, answering questions, word of mouth)
2. Concurrently, work on solving a new need in the same niche.
3. Validate that need by driving traffic from my site to a landing page
4. Create the product and sell, using traffic from my site as leads

I have another idea for how to go about this thats more "offline" and one goal today is to write it out and think about the practicality of it. I will keep this thread updated.
 

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rwhyan

rwhyan

The higher, the fewer
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 27, 2017
133
328
176
Los Angeles, CA
Update 12/8/18

Site is continuing to grow. I am up to around 1500 monthly unique visitors without zero paid advertising. I also am managing to convert on average 20-30% of visitors into email signups, so I now have a more substantial email list of about 1000. Average time on site is now up to 3:30.

Although I've had growth, I'm going to be honest when I say that most of the past few months have been mostly action-faking. I have been constantly redesigning the website and making it more visually appealing (I am a web-designer at heart). I definitely have added a lot of functional value to the site—making it easier to navigate, easier to read the content, and with an increased email collection rate—but I have done practically zero SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing in that time.

It is quite a good sign, however, that despite my lack of efforts the site has continued to grow or at least maintain. I think that shows the content truly provides value. I don't even rank on Google! And I think I know why but it is difficult to explain without divulging details of the website.

My struggle has been with monetization, so I created a service and gave it away to a few dozen people for free to garner testimonials. But now I have to pivot because I realize the service I created was not valuable: people were quick to sign up for free, but when I asked others to purchase they were reluctant.

I have decided to instead sell a higher-ticket, coaching/digital product hybrid (i.e. digital product that includes one-on-one coaching). Curious to others thoughts about doing that.

My game plan is to continue driving traffic, collect emails, and use automated/evergreen webinars to sell. I'm thinking Demio or WebinarJam. Any suggestions? I'll get webinar signups using advertisements on my site and through the email list.

Lessons:
  • I am targeting the wrong audience. As an educational site, both students and parents use it. However, in order to monetize, I should focus on targeting parents because they are the ones with the money.
  • High-ticket services > low-ticket for my site. High-ticket items = I need to convert less users to reach my financial goals. Plus, given the niche and the service I am selling, high-ticket items make sense.
  • True value attracts people to it without much work. MJ definitely mentions this in TMF and Unscripted but this is the first time I was able to witness it firsthand.
Next steps:
  • Focus on increasing traffic through non-paid means: SEO, email marketing, content marketing (started blog), and social media. Not going to focus on social media too greatly, because honestly I don't know how effective it is for something educational (i.e. not fun or flashy).
  • Use some paid advertising: Google Adwords mainly, but perhaps FB. I haven't looked into the CPC for my keywords yet but I have noticed that competitors aren't using Google Adwords. Not sure why.
  • Create webinar. At end of webinar, validate service by replacing Buy Button with email collection.
  • Create email sequence for post-webinar. I'm thinking 7 day sequence?
  • Redesign site to drive traffic to webinar.
  • Take high quality photos of myself. Since I'm going the coaching route, my site needs to be more personalized and about myself. I only have one photo right now of myself and no information about my story, etc., so personalizing the site is one important part of redesigning the site.
  • Once I launch the webinar, I have one month to receive at least 10 intents to purchase, in which case I will then create the service.
  • Otherwise, if I can't get at least 10: either survey users about the proposed service (by giving away more of those low-ticket services for free in exchange for a survey response) and modify it OR pivot to a new service. Also, experiment with the copy, price-point, webinar length, etc. to optimize conversion rate.

I'd love anyone's thoughts on anything I'm doing. I've definitely gone through many lulls with this site and considered giving it up. Now I am back on track with a plan to move forward.

I wonder if anyone else does this, but I have found that just sitting down, pen and paper, and thinking for a few hours about the business has really helped me. I just got rid of all distractions and just gave myself time to think deeply both about my financial goals and the steps needed to achieve them.

Look forward to updating.
 
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rwhyan

rwhyan

The higher, the fewer
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Aug 27, 2017
133
328
176
Los Angeles, CA
Update: 02/11/19

ENOUGH action faking. I'm tired of it.

The past few months have been rough, and I've really hit the point of just feeling like: F$@K I can't keep living this way. Something needs to change.

What needs to change is I need to take real action. I'm struggling monetizing because I have been thinking about what I'm gonna sell instead of selling something.

I've been action-faking for too long. So today I picked up the phone and started calling. Quite scary at first and most calls went to voicemail but managed to talk to two people so far in about an hour. One was flat out rejection but the other might be a potential lead. Unfortunately the call disconnected but I left another voicemail and am going to email them a brochure and some more information.

Lessons from my first cold calls EVER (take with a grain of salt, I just started...):
  • Let them talk. If you pause they'll just keep talking most of the time.
  • Always agree with them. "Yes and" technique.
  • Don't stutter or say um. It's actually not that difficult if you know your product well.
This has gotten me off my a$$ and I know what to do now to move forward. I was speculating for far too long, thinking "well maybe this is valuable but maybe its not" or "well what if the market doesn't like this" and BS like that. I realized you'll never know unless you interact with the market.

Going to get back to calling. But I need to figure out the specifics of the product I'm selling. It was somewhat just a test to see if people would be interested. Still not sure if this is something people would find valuable enough to pay for but going to keep calling until I have my answer.

Sad to say but I've made more progress in the past few hours than I have made in the past few weeks.
 

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