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Is This Course Worth It? ... Find Out How To Mathemtically Know It INSIDE!

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Black_Dragon43

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Is This Course Worth It...?

I've seen a lot of threads around here with people being unsure about whether a certain course or ebook is worth buying.

For example, one member asks: Why Believe Any Writer/Speaker/Guru?

The fear is justified, nobody wants to make the wrong decision and lose money in the process.

This thread is the answer to such fears.

And it will show you how to scientifically estimate whether a course is worth buying or not.

Certainty Doesn't Exist - You Must Make The Best Decision Based On Uncertainty (and Probability)

You will never be 100% certain that buying a certain course is worth the investment. That just doesn't exist. Even the very best courses out there aren't suited for everyone. So there is always a possibility that the course will not be for you, even though it is the very best course out there.

You can certainly choose to question everything (like the OP of the thread mentioned above), that is certainly one strategy to have, but you're unlikely to make any progress. Questioning everything is being stuck, not moving forward, closing yourself from opportunities to learn things that could be useful for you.

That way you won't be buying any courses which gives you 100% chance to miss out on information that could have taken you forward.

So this is NOT a smart strategy.


This means that you need to learn to take decisions based on probability, much like a poker player. Your goal is to learn to take the RIGHT decisions at every single step. Sometimes, your decisions may not work out. But in the long run, you will have gained far more than you have lost.

That's why you need to know how to calculate the EXPECTED VALUE (EV) of your purchase. Given the uncertainty, the expected value will tell you whether you're making a good decision (if the balance of probabilities is in your favor - we call this +EV), or you're making a bad decision (if the balance of probabilities is not in your favor - we call this -EV).

Please note that it is absolutely possible for the EV of a decision to be +EV, and yet for the course to not work out. This doesn't mean that it was a bad decision to buy though. If you stick to taking +EV decisions all the time, even when you actually end up losing, you will have gained FAR more than you have lost in the long run.

It's like rolling a dice.

If you win $1 every time the dice lands 1,2,3,4 and you lose a dollar every time the dice lands 5,6, then it may be possible for you to lose $10 if you throw the dice ten times (all ten times the dice would land either 5 or 6). But in the long run, say if you throw the dice 10,000 times, then you will have earned $3,333. How come? Because the balance of probabilities is in your favor, so you're making a good decision by playing the game, even if variance means that for the first ten throws you may just be losing money.

Determining The Expected Value Of Buying The Course

Ok, so how do you calculate the expected value of a course?

(Ew-C) * Ps - (1-Ps) * C = EV

Ew = Earnings if it works out favorably
Ps = probability of success (a favorable outcome)
C = Cost of the course
EV = Expected Value


Seems like a complicated equation to remember...

Don't worry...

It gets easier.

Here's a much easier version to remember:

IF

C/Ew < Ps


THEN WE ARE +EV!

So it's quite simple. Say the course says that it will teach you a specific skill that you can make money with. The first thing is to quantify how much money you'll make if it works out. Say it teaches you copywriting, and you can expect that after taking it you'll be able to earn $50,000 income in a year by writing copy. You estimate that based on what the person who created it claims, testimonials, and your knowledge of yourself, your situation and your background skills. The cost is $500. What % of the time should you succeed in making $50,000 income by buying the course for this to be a +EV decision?

Well, let's calculate it.

$500/$50,000 < Ps
1:100 < Ps
So the probability of success must be greater than 1 out of 100 tries, meaning 1%.

So if the course gives you even a 1% chance to make $50,000 income, then you should pay $500 for it. It's a GOOD decision.

As you can see, in this case, your probability of success doesn't actually have to be very big at all to make it a good investment.

Another way to think about it - if you can make $50,000 1% of the time by buying the course, then you should buy it.

And here's an even more powerful way to do it... we'll build an EV table assuming a cost of $500.

Probability of SuccessBreakeven Ew (how much you need to make to be +EV)
100%$500
75%$667
50%$1,000
33%$1,500
25%$2,000
10%$5,000
5%$10,000
1%$50,000

Now, here's the genius about this EV table. The tail scenarios are naturally very difficult to judge. You may find it impossible to say with 1% certainty that you'll make $50,000 out of what you learn.

Likewise, you may struggle to have 100% certainty that you'll make $500. That's not a big deal, because the technique can handle it.

If you can find even ONE Ps + Breakeven Ew that makes sense, then you should buy the course. Otherwise don't.

You Still Need To Estimate Your Chance Of Success To Make A Particular Return...

Now obviously this technique still requires you to estimate the chance of success at making a particular income with the help of the course. The mathematics helps you figure out where you are given your assumptions, but it's not going to make those assumptions for you.

So you have to estimate the probability of success when it comes to making a particular income. If the probability of success you estimate is greater than the probability of success you find in the table for that particular income, then you should buy.

Here's How...

Look at what the course helps you to achieve in combination with your current set of skills, and your unique situation. For example, how much is one extra sale, if the course teaches you sales, worth for you? What's your average sale value like? So if the course were to help you get one extra sale, how much would that sale be worth? That's your expected Ew. Then look at the corresponding probability of success, and based on what you know about the course, reviews, feedback, interactions with the course creator decide if the real probability of success is bigger than the one in the table. If it is, then you should buy.

If the course is useful and goes well with your current skillset or the skillset you're looking to develop, but does not help you solve an immediate problem, then assume a chance of success equal to or smaller than 50%

If the course is useful, and will help you solve a CURRENT PROBLEM that you're facing, then look at the value of solving that problem. How much would you have to pay someone to solve it for you? Compare that with the price of the course. If the price of the course is smaller, that's a good sign. Then look at the higher probabilities in the EV table (50% or higher). Will it help you get those kind of returns? If so, you should buy it.

Remember, courses are always more helpful if they help you solve a CURRENT problem you're facing. Then it's much easier to quantify their value.

If they don't help solve a current problem, and they don't help you increase your income directly, then it's more difficult to quantify their value.

But you should still try. Always consider your OWN situation, given your own background and skills when you think about what kind of returns you can get from a course.

Someone running a 10 billion business may get a $5 million return out of a sales course teaching them how to close just one extra sale.

On the other hand, if your average sale is $1,000, then that's your likely return if you assume you'll close just one sale.

So analyse these assumptions that you're making by relating to your own personal situation, and then use the math to check what the effect of those assumptions is, and whether it makes sense to buy or not.

But DO REMEMBER: the math is only useful if you make sensible assumptions. So the quality of your results will still depend upon your assumptions :)
 

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BizyDad

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This is terrible advice and a terrible use of math or expected value.

The end result is spending $500 on something with a 1% chance of success.

You can totally skew the numbers. If I am an overconfident 23 year old, I think I have a 10% chance to making it, so I should pay $5k for the same course? That sounds dumb.

Or if any course has a the potential to make me a zillionaire, I should pay at least 10k for it, since I can justify a 1% chance of success on just about anything. And isn't that the promise of all the Lambourghini Bikini gurus? Why not just tell people to play the lottery? Oh no, blackjack. Better odds in blackjack.

If something has a 1% chance of success, it has a 99% chance of failure, the choice is simple. Don't waste your time or money. It's not math, its common sense.
 
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Black_Dragon43

Black_Dragon43

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The end result is spending $500 on something with a 1% chance of success.
Well, if you misrepresent the math of course you don't get it right. I said that you should spend $500 on it if you judge that the chance of making $50,000 with is at least equal to or greater than 1%.

You can totally skew the numbers. If I am an overconfident 23 year old, I think I have a 10% chance to making it, so I should pay $5k for the same course? That sounds dumb.
Is that the fault of the technique, or the fault of you not making a good judgement call? The fact of the matter remains. You must decide whether to buy or not, and you want to take the right decision. The math can help you do that if you use it to make good judgement calls. That's what this is about. The math won't make judgement calls by itself, that responsibility still rests on you.

If something has a 1% chance of success, it has a 99% chance of failure, the choice is simple. Don't waste your time or money. It's not math, its common sense.
Nowhere does the math suggest that the course has a 1% chance of success LOL!

You should still buy the course if you judge that you have at least a 10% chance of making $5,000 for example. Does that mean the chance of success of the course is now suddenly 10 times bigger, meaning 10%? :bored:

Or how about the fact that you should still pay $500 for it if the chance of making $1000 is a 50%? Now suddenly the chance of success for the course grew to 50% or what?

The math really isn't debatable.
 
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Mr.C

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EV is a good heuristic for making decisions, but the math diverges from reality when you bring estimates into play.

Your example for gauging the expected value of a course is a decent starting point, assuming:

1. You can accurately predict the value of your expected best case scenario
2. You can accurately predict how likely this is to occur (I.e. what are the actual odds of success?)
3. You can accurately predict the costs of failure/taking that action in the first place (time, money, opportunity cost)

Those are three big assumptions. We can make anything into a formula. But will it reflect reality if we do?

A mental model like this would be useful for some people, IMO. E.g. people who are unwilling to spend a little on a targeted Udemy course or book to help them work past a particular challenge...

But by the same token, someone who buys 1000 books at $10 apiece because of the EV (without ever reading or applying any of them) is gonna just waste $10,000. Unless they're Tai Lopez and can use them for credibility lol.

EV breaks down when you start applying it to higher ticket items, without the commitment & drive to actually use the info they provide.

There's probably people reading this post right now who are sitting on a potentially life changing course, book or subscription that they're not taking advantage of. For one reason or another.

For them, maybe it's best to look inwards and figure out why they haven't acted yet...

Not to buy yet another high ROI course.
 
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Black_Dragon43

Black_Dragon43

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This is a good post @Mr.C !

1. You can accurately predict the value of your expected best case scenario
2. You can accurately predict how likely this is to occur (I.e. what are the actual odds of success?)
The technique doesn't really require you to predict the BEST CASE scenario, or for that matter how likely the BEST CASE scenario is.

For the example above I need:
1% chance to make $50,000 or more
10% chance to make $5,000 or more
20% chance to make $2,500 or more
50% chance to make $1,000 or more
etc.

So if I look at all these combinations, it's sufficient that I am able to judge at least ONE of them. I don't necessarily have to be able to judge the $50,000 scenario, if I can judge the $2,500 one. Being able to judge any of the scenarios above as being correct would lead me to make a +EV decision.

And I believe that most people, when buying courses, can have some sort of expectations that they can quantify.

3. You can accurately predict the costs of failure/taking that action in the first place (time, money, opportunity cost)
Yes, this is an assumption and it is a valid point. In many cases, especially for beginner entrepreneurs, time + OC could be ignored.
 

Ismails

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Something worth mentioning about these 2 topics:

1) The Net Present Value & The IRR - Internal Rate of Return
2) The Story about The Little 3 Pigs

The Little 3 Pigs:
1st Traditional Pig = He makes a big product, sells for $30K
2nd Incremental Pig = He makes small 6 products and sells for $64K
3rd Nimble Pig = He makes small 3 products and sells for $100K by making adjustments
 

Mr.C

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Oh yeah, I hear what you're saying.

For these kinds of decisions, EV is going to be kinda "fuzzy", no matter how long you spend trying to think through every little possibility.

My main criteria when making a decision like this is:

*Will it bring me closer to my goals?*

That requires you to know your goals, have a rough idea of how to get there, and an understanding of who you are as a person...

But mostly, it comes down to being able to tell "better" from "worse".

We've all action faked our way into a questionable course buy in the past. And I think most people would agree that there are tons of viable paths to your goals - if you've got the character to walk them.

But if you can look at your options and figure out:

1. Which ones have limited downside (i.e. they won't break the bank, and won't put you on the road to ruin)
2. Which ones have a significant upside (i.e. is this a skill I can use?)
3. Which ones will reasonably get you closer to your goals

Then you're well on your way. EV is a useful tool to help with this process.

As long as someone is willing to look away up from the probability spreadsheet and actually commit to *doing the work*, it's all good.
 

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Don't buy courses - 100% certainty
 

AgainstAllOdds

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What you're leaving out is that a lot of these courses lead people down the wrong path.

Your Expected Value calculation is leaving out all the potential negatives.

For example, if you take an Amazon FBA course today and believe in the content, then there's a 75%+ chance that you'll waste the next 2 years of your life before realizing that the course was worthless.

Another example: If you take an @AndrewNC course, then there's a 90% chance that you'll turn out dumber than he is.

Expected Value can't be used for calculating guru courses. Your post is of sound logic, but that's just not how things work. The majority of gurus fudge their numbers, accentuate the few successes, and misrepresent the facts in order to get you to buy.

For the vast majority of available courses, the value received is not worth the: a) price being paid; b) time invested; and c) potentially harmful mindset shift.

Why?

Because if it was worth the price being paid, then the majority of these gurus wouldn't be pushing courses, but instead pushing their own product, business, or consulting services.


Let me continue by illustrating some nightmare scenarios that I have seen:

One guy I know invested $3,000 in 3 different online courses, and then $5,000 for an in-person Facebook Ads course. The guru guaranteed everyone a successful product that they could start with by the end of the course.

The product he gave him was a cookie cutter product for which the market had become saturated.

Believing in the "knowledge" he acquired, he went full force into Facebook ads. He spent 6 months convinced that what he was doing was right "because that's what the gurus taught him".

6 months later and his credit cards were maxed out. His bank account was on empty. And he was $45,000 total in debt, declaring bankruptcy.

Since then he's quit all courses and started doing a business that he learned as an apprentice. Within 8 months, he's doing $650 a day net, and continuously growing.


His scenario isn't atypical. I'm willing to bet that it's more common than any success.

Look at the people on this forum that have paid for courses. Then look at their progress threads. Or meet them in person in Phoenix. How many of these people turned out successful? Close to none.

Now look at the successful people. How many of them attribute their success to a single course that they took? Likely very few if any.


"Courses" and the rest of this guru bullshit is predominantly a waste of time and detrimental to success. There's a market for it because it's "the easy way to success". People think by listening to some loser that makes $40k a year, they'll magically become millionaires. That's almost never how that works.

Instead of considering courses, you should consider the PROVEN path to success. 1) Getting a job and learning from it (learn about the industry, the skills necessary to succeed, how a business like that operates); 2) Finding a mentor that embodies who you want to become and figuring out how to become that person; 3) Experience - just start doing something and adjust accordingly as you progress.

These paths are 100x harder than a course. However, they're also 100x more likely to work out.
 

AgainstAllOdds

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Edit: Just saw you have a marketplace ad for a course.

Lmao. It all makes sense now.

"BUY MY COURSE AND MAKE 6-FIGURES IN 3 MONTHS!!!

... It will only cost you $47 to change your life forever.

... And yeah, of course I'm making millions of dollars a year!!!

Why is it $47? Because I'm a nice F*cking guy.

Up to you. If you don't want this life changing course, then don't pay $47 for it. Me and all my genius students that bought this $47 course will be driving Lamborghinis on Mars while you sit at home and jerk off!!!

Limited time only!!!"​
 

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BizyDad

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Bingo
 
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Black_Dragon43

Black_Dragon43

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Oh yeah, I hear what you're saying.

For these kinds of decisions, EV is going to be kinda "fuzzy", no matter how long you spend trying to think through every little possibility.

My main criteria when making a decision like this is:

*Will it bring me closer to my goals?*

That requires you to know your goals, have a rough idea of how to get there, and an understanding of who you are as a person...

But mostly, it comes down to being able to tell "better" from "worse".

We've all action faked our way into a questionable course buy in the past. And I think most people would agree that there are tons of viable paths to your goals - if you've got the character to walk them.

But if you can look at your options and figure out:

1. Which ones have limited downside (i.e. they won't break the bank, and won't put you on the road to ruin)
2. Which ones have a significant upside (i.e. is this a skill I can use?)
3. Which ones will reasonably get you closer to your goals

Then you're well on your way. EV is a useful tool to help with this process.

As long as someone is willing to look away up from the probability spreadsheet and actually commit to *doing the work*, it's all good.
Agreed 100% :) This is what I meant this thread to do - provide another useful tool that people can have in their arsenal for taking their decisions. I agree that EV calculations alone will not improve your judgement, they are just a tool that can help you if you know how to use it. This comes with practice and thinking. Thanks for your contribution, I very much enjoyed talking with you about this :)
 

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Edit: Just saw you have a marketplace ad for a course.

Lmao. It all makes sense now.

"BUY MY COURSE AND MAKE 6-FIGURES IN 3 MONTHS!!!

... It will only cost you $47 to change your life forever.

... And yeah, of course I'm making millions of dollars a year!!!

Why is it $47? Because I'm a nice F*cking guy.

Up to you. If you don't want this life changing course, then don't pay $47 for it. Me and all my genius students that bought this $47 course will be driving Lamborghinis on Mars while you sit at home and jerk off!!!

Limited time only!!!"​
 
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Black_Dragon43

Black_Dragon43

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Hi @AgainstAllOdds , thanks for joining the discussion :) you make some interesting points. Below are my thoughts:

What you're leaving out is that a lot of these courses lead people down the wrong path.
I believe in individual responsibility - we cannot just fault the courses without looking at the bad judgments that some people make when buying them. It's up to each person to decide if a particular course will be good for them or not.

Tony Robbins, for example, has courses out there that go for $10,000 or more. Are those courses a waste of money? Probably they are if you are someone making $30K/year. But if you are running a major corporation (with 10 billion in annual sales), and by attending that course you can increase the organisation's sales by 10%, then I'd say it's very much worth it.

Or if you are depressed and you are a millionaire, and your business is suffering as a result of it, then it surely is worth $10K to have Tony Robbins pull you out of it. If you're a depressed random Joe though, probably not worth $10K, sure.

So again, whether a course is good for someone depends on: (1) the quality of the course, (2) the match between the course's goal and the individual's goal and capabilities, and (3) the individual's knowledge, understanding and drive to apply what they learn.

Expected Value can't be used for calculating guru courses.
Why do you think EV cannot be used to calculate guru courses? If it's a guru course, you know that you probably stand a very small chance of being successful by applying it. So that gives you some insight on the probability of success - depending on the price, you can adjust as necessary. Given that it is a guru course, you shouldn't be willing to pay a lot for it, since the chances of success are likely to be small.

All this is stuff that EV can help you decide. For example, you need to make $50K from a $500 guru course to make it worth it given the risks if you assume just a 1% chance of success, etc. I find this to be helpful personally. But again, maybe you don't.

Because if it was worth the price being paid, then the majority of these gurus wouldn't be pushing courses, but instead pushing their own product, business, or consulting services.
Okay. What about someone like me? I own a direct response agency, and I am certainly pushing the services that I teach people how to do through my eBook for my agency as well. I'm charging big bucks for them, that most people at the start of their journey cannot afford to pay or sustain. That's why I push an ebook to them and not a I-do-it-for-you service, obviously. Is this wrong? Do you think I'm a guru or bro-marketer if I teach people how my agency builds funnels for others to earn $$?

Look at the people on this forum that have paid for courses. Then look at their progress threads. Or meet them in person in Phoenix. How many of these people turned out successful? Close to none.

Now look at the successful people. How many of them attribute their success to a single course that they took? Likely very few if any.
*puts his hand up* - I'm one of the people on this forum who learned a ton from Udemy courses and the like.

There is no "single course" that I attribute my success to, but a few of them have been very useful. Tony Robbin's Mastering Influence program is one of them for example. It cost me around $400 - I have made that amount many many many maaany times over ever since.

Most of my success though comes from working and figuring out stuff on my own. I never had a job, I built everything I have by myself. I never wanted to work for someone else either, I just wasn't built for it. Back when I got started, courses were really my only useful alternative to actually learn to do something useful.

I mean, for me, if it wasn't for courses, I'm sure I wouldn't have made anything of myself, much less have had the pleasure of working at the top level on internet businesses including with 2 Inc. 500 entrepreneurs. They have given me a big push for the better when I was just starting out and trying to learn to do the bare minimum that would be useful.

These paths are 100x harder than a course. However, they're also 100x more likely to work out.
All paths, course or no course are difficult. Life is tough, there is no easy road if that's what you're looking for. To me, this doesn't mean courses are useless, or you're 100x more likely to make money by getting a traditional job. Again, someone like me never worked for someone else in their entire life. So this is possible.

"BUY MY COURSE AND MAKE 6-FIGURES IN 3 MONTHS!!!

... It will only cost you $47 to change your life forever.

... And yeah, of course I'm making millions of dollars a year!!!

Why is it $47? Because I'm a nice F*cking guy.

Up to you. If you don't want this life changing course, then don't pay $47 for it. Me and all my genius students that bought this $47 course will be driving Lamborghinis on Mars while you sit at home and jerk off!!!

Limited time only!!!"​
{this thread isn't about my eBook, but I will address this}

My ebook (not a course yet) has been posted on this forum for about 1.5 months or more already, so trust me, I didn't need to make this thread to promote it. Nobody ever thought price was much of a concern anyway.

It's disappointing to see that you go straight to offending me and assuming the worst about me though. If you look, I started this thread in response to another recent thread created on here, to provide value, and give my take on courses and what I do to decide if it's good or not. It's obvious if you check the timing that this thread was not meant to promote my EBOOK (NOT A COURSE!)

But, back to my eBook, there are members on this forum who have bought it, and the few of them who I've talked to personally have been helped by it. I've spent time personally helping a few members on specific problems too. I have personally responded to and have invested both my time and energy in helping. I've only had one person request a refund out of the 35+ who bought so far, which I promptly gave, and they weren't even from this forum.

So I'm not sure why you make such a big fuss about my eBook in a thread that isn't even about it. Is it wrong to create and sell an eBook like mine? Am I a "guru" now, or what? Is everyone selling an info product a guru or a thief?

Personally, I wish I had access when I started out to a resource like this. I could've gone straight to charging $150/hr at least as a copywriter then, instead of $20/hr as I did back in the day. And I could've gone straight in working on sales funnels for people. Or could've started selling my own products right away, etc.

My agency and I are actually creating an updated version of the eBook with follow-along templates and more to help people based on the feedback we have received so far. We will give it for free to existing buyers, and we will increase the price to $299 or more for new buyers. I supposed now THAT makes me a guru...

In fact, I tell you what - once we have the updated version ready (the $299+ one), I will give you a FREE copy. All I ask in exchange is that you review it and give me HONEST PUBLIC feedback. Deal? :) I'm sure if I'm a guru you'll be the first to help everyone by letting them know. How does that sound to you?
 
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Here

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How to buy a course:
1. Document exactly what the guru claims at the time of sale
2. Pay with a credit card with a good chargeback policy (most have one)
3. If the course doesn’t live up to expectations, email the course creator as soon as possible. Document your communication. If you don’t get a response, or they refuse to refund you, reach out to the credit card company for next steps.

I buy a lot of courses. Most are great. Some weren’t a good fit. One Wasnt nearly as good as the marketing led me to believe.

So far I’ve requested refunds on 3 of them. Two promptly refunded me, one I had to do a chargeback. Guess which one.
 

JScott

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I responded to another post last week about using Kelly Criterion for deciding how much of your net worth to invest in a business venture...

In much the same way, your original post is a flawed attempt at using one statistical technique to try to model something that is too qualitative to be accurately measured using that single approach.

Even if you could figure out the likelihood of success for a specific customer of a specific course (which I would argue is near impossible), EV is a ridiculous metric to use in a vacuum when dealing with a small number of trials. Specifically, some wager could have a hugely large +EV but be a horrible bet given other factors, such as number of trials, bet size relative to total capitalization (function of Kelly criterion), variance, standard error of net gain, etc.

Without these additional measures, EV doesn't give much useful information, if any.

EDIT: Just noticed that you are selling a book/course. Perhaps this post is a way to encourage people to buy your course; if so, hopefully the information in your book/course is better thought out than your post above.
 

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1. Document exactly what the guru claims at the time of sale
2. Pay with a credit card with a good chargeback policy (most have one)
3. If the course doesn’t live up to expectations, email the course creator as soon as possible. Document your communication. If you don’t get a response, or they refuse to refund you, reach out to the credit card company for next steps.
This is great advice, thanks for sharing it. One thing that you need to add is that the course must offer a money-back guarantee as you're unlikely to get your money back even with a chargeback otherwise.

So far I’ve requested refunds on 3 of them. Two promptly refunded me, one I had to do a chargeback. Guess which one.
Yeah, that's similar to me. I've requested a refund on around 3-5 courses, and have probably bought 80ish (most of them quite cheap - Udemy -, most expensive being around $1000). I personally never experienced an issue with getting a refund immediately if the seller promised a 100% money-back guarantee. But then, I'm careful with selecting my courses to begin with.
 

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Specifically, some wager could have a hugely large +EV but be a horrible bet given other factors, such as number of trials, bet size relative to total capitalization (function of Kelly criterion), variance, standard error of net gain, etc.
This!

Especially variance.
And the formula assumes that all courses have the same topics in the module- which isn't always the case.

Take copywriting for example.
Sure, some copywriting courses talk about the basics...buy triggers, headlines, CTAs.

But I have found others with different module sections...client management, advanced research techniques, some other insider interviews.

And not all modules might give me the bang for my buck, or do they?

So you could run the risk of either inflating or dropping the EV score biasedly, if you want to compare the scores of competing courses with each other.

Plus, courses get updated all the time, as well as pricing and probably their claimed ROIs. Will the EV score stay the same by then?
Might be troublesome to run around to wrangle the formula all day lol.

Personally speaking, it helps to read the course module on the sales pages, and see if its contents fixes a current problem in your biz or hustle- and go for it. Better still if they have a money-back guarantee or a trial session, or seasonal discounts.

Or even better, if you know who's teaching the course, and actually talked over email or on a forum (just like Lex and others :))...that would be a good place to start from.

So yeah, more of qualitative research, in formal terms, @JScott. This kinds of remind me of the Altman score and regression R-square haha.

But good effort, @Black_Dragon43

On the other hand, another reason why online courses are a lot more different these days, is because I'm seeing more of the gurus grouping their folks up into networking avenues...can be FB groups, niche forums or email. I think Lex does it as well- he has an FB group for his Udemy students.

These folks are more likely to form relationships, masterminds, and discuss contents of the course in relation to their application.

I joined a Masterclass seminar a few months ago, and we have an FB group where folks talk about their businesses, request for 'backscratching', mini- technical discussions and so on.

I remember the main speaker who organised the seminar roped in a few successful students from the group to talk, and not a few of the other top hits were repeat-comers to the seminar.

So we'd have to consider the networking aspect of online courses.
And an exact financial cost is kinda hard to estimate from that...
 

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@JScott
Well, if you check the OP, you will see that it wasn't meant to be a general and complete guide into how to make good decisions when buying courses. It's a post that I made in response to this thread: Credibility: Why Believe Any Writer/Speaker/Guru?

It's aimed at people who are on the fence about buying a course that they reckon will be useful for them, but don't want to take a decision in the absence of certainty (which by the way is sometimes worse than taking a bad decision). The EV method will give them the extra push that they need to make a decision that is likely to be good for them after they have made all the other judgements about it. I don't advocate the EV method as the only method. You are a mathematician by trade, so treat it like Pascal treated his Wager.

It's the same method I've used myself in the past in similar situations. For example, I wasn't sure if should invest in Tony's Mastering Influence program. It cost around $400. So I said I'd give myself a 30% chance to learn to close a sale that I would otherwise lose by following and applying the program (a chance which I deemed to be very conservative given Tony's reputation). I run a direct response agency so for me an average sale for something small like a landing page is like $3,000. So supposing I would close just 1 extra sale, would it be worth it to spend $400 for the course?

So I did the math... $400/$3000 = 13%. And I estimated that the actual chance to learn something useful based on reading reviews, knowing about Tony, having read one of his books, etc. is around 30%. And it was a conservative estimate. 30% > 13% -> So I decided it was useful and bought. Was EV not helpful for me? Do you reckon I shouldn't have used it in that situation?

Specifically, some wager could have a hugely large +EV but be a horrible bet given other factors, such as number of trials, bet size relative to total capitalization (function of Kelly criterion), variance, standard error of net gain, etc.

Without these additional measures, EV doesn't give much useful information, if any.
I am not a mathematician, but I would be interested to learn more about determining stuff like this mathematicallly. I am a direct response marketer, so my expertise is in building sales funnels and helping people start and scale online businesses. You on the other hand are a mathematician by trade, so I think your input on this can be really valuable in the thread.

Personally, I mentioned how I use EV above. I use it in combination with judging the course, not spending a lot on it (never spent more than $1K for a course), reading reviews, talking with the course creator if possible, never buying if there is no money-back guarantee, not risking a high percentage of my net worht on buying, etc.

I would be interested in any mathematical models you have that could improve my decision making process above!
 
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Especially variance.
I always thought about this when playing poker... should you make a +EV decision if it requires you to go all-in and risk your entire poker capital? Say I have AA pre-flop (the best pre-flop hand). Theoretically, I'm like 70%+ likely to win. So if someone goes all-in should I accept it and go all-in too knowing that it is +EV even though I'm risking my whole capital, which would take a lot to build up again? My gut would say no, but some of the experts I talked to would say yes.

So yes, those limit situations are interesting to me from a mathematical POV, when the +EV decision requires you to risk a large % of your capital.
 
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You on the other hand are a mathematician by trade, so I think your input on this can be really valuable in the thread.
@JScott might have better input, but I'm studying Finance and Analytics currently...so I brush a lot with maths and stats these days.

Here's the thing with models: Choose the LESS WRONG one.

Models will have different variables and cut-off benchmarks for accuracy or performance measures.

And as different as they are, they will have their strengths and weaknesses.

Take the alpha = 0.05 significance level for basic stats. That is a Type 1 error probability that you might send someone (or a course, for that matter)to jail, even though its actually innocent.

And a probability can be right, or wrong- just how likely?

And whether or not the probability goes right or wrong depends on what variables or benchmark calculation measures you place more importance on.

So, in any calculation, there's more to just earnings and cost.

Earnings and costs are singular measurements....we need to know more to the story.

If I could put the stuff in a regression formula, I might weight in the significance of each individual module of the course in question.

Speaking of choosing the less wrong model...that is the same with using a qualitative approach.
You just consider what's the most important thing you look for from a course, and read the reviews and other sources of info.

I always thought about this when playing poker... should you make a +EV decision if it requires you to go all-in and risk your entire poker capital? Say I have AA pre-flop (the best pre-flop hand). Theoretically, I'm like 70%+ likely to win. So if someone goes all-in should I accept it and go all-in too knowing that it is +EV even though I'm risking my whole capital, which would take a lot to build up again? My gut would say no, but some of the experts I talked to would say yes.
It goes back to what variables you are putting into your formula, if any.
And benchmark calculations, if you will.

Here, I think the variable of 'risk tolerance' is different for everyone.
Or 'damage recovery'. Quite relevant for spending big bucks on online courses, as well.

Sure, you can earn it back, if the downside is that you lose all the capital.
But not everyone has the same earning capacity.

Some earn $10,000. Other earn minimum wage.

It is possible that the 'experts' say 'go for it', because they expect to earn more on the other plays, or they work a job or biz lol.

And it is possible that 'experts' pay more attention to other forces that 'seem' to be more significant...like the card dealings- and ignore that apparent risk. A mental bias, if you will.

But how much can we see anyway?

Just look at your pockets, and if you can't go all in without busting them on fire, might as well stay away lol.

EDIT: I forgot...some players aim to win big, some, just aim to win a little, or at least keep some cash at the end of the game...something like the stock market.

So....you've got to ask yourself what's your aim, and its actually different for everyone.
Same thing for online courses...people have different aims when they take any courses.

For instance, a graphics design student make take a copywriting course to add to his resume.
But a hustler might only aim to use the course to learn how to make more money.

And the aim affects the variables (that you consider important) put into the equation.
 
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And the formula assumes that all courses have the same topics in the module- which isn't always the case.

Take copywriting for example.
Sure, some copywriting courses talk about the basics...buy triggers, headlines, CTAs.

But I have found others with different module sections...client management, advanced research techniques, some other insider interviews.

And not all modules might give me the bang for my buck, or do they?

So you could run the risk of either inflating or dropping the EV score biasedly, if you want to compare the scores of competing courses with each other.

Plus, courses get updated all the time, as well as pricing and probably their claimed ROIs. Will the EV score stay the same by then?
Well, if you tried to compare, say, two different copywriting courses, one with the regular modules, buying triggers, headlines, CTA, buyer psychology, etc. and another with different module section such as client management, research techniques, etc. then you would have to ascribe some value that you expect to get out of each one.

You could apply the EV method if you can put a value on each one, how much it represents for you. What could YOU do with it? You could do it like I did:

For example, I wasn't sure if should invest in Tony's Mastering Influence program. It cost around $400. So I said I'd give myself a 30% chance to learn to close a sale that I would otherwise lose by following and applying the program (a chance which I deemed to be very conservative given Tony's reputation). I run a direct response agency so for me an average sale for something small like a landing page is like $3,000. So supposing I would close just 1 extra sale, would it be worth it to spend $400 for the course?

So I did the math... $400/$3000 = 13%. And I estimated that the actual chance to learn something useful based on reading reviews, knowing about Tony, having read one of his books, etc. is around 30%. And it was a conservative estimate. 30% > 13% -> So I decided it was useful and bought.
I calculated some value I thought I'd be able to get out of the course based on my particular situation and capabilities. Clearly if I was running a 10 million biz instead of a 6-figure one, where the usual sale for a small service or product was $50K, then it would have a whole different value for me. So value is relative to the person.

So you would do that for both courses, and since they're covering the same topic, you would just pick the one which provides more value if you had to pick just one of them. No EV necessary for that.

With regards to claimed ROIs - you should ALWAYS think about your own situation and what ROI YOU could obtain. I've done 6-figure funnels - it doesn't mean everyone who buys my eBook, for example, will be able to. Most people won't get there except through hard work, dedication, understanding, expertise, and even luck. Take for example someone who can barely string two words in English - I doubt they'd be able to build a high-converting funnel with my eBook or any other resource for that matter. Or take someone who doesn't know how to hire others, and cannot get the design he needs for his funnel in place - same thing. Take someone who has problems staying motivated and persevering - again, I doubt they can make it. Etc.

That's why you must calculate ROI for your own situation. What is your business? How is the course you're getting likely to help? Say you're buying a copywriting course. It costs $950. Say you also have a business selling a SaaS. Say your software sells for $97/mo (taking something like Clickfunnels as an example). Your conversion rates on your sales page are currently like 1%, and you're buying 10,000 worth of traffic a month off FB.

That's 100 subscribers a month. If you estimate that buying the course could increase your conversions by 1% (given a conservative estimate based on what others achieve, what the course maker claims, etc.), then that would mean 100*97 = $9700 ROI in a single month. $950/9700 = 10% give or take. So if you trust that the course has a chance of working of greater than 10%, then you should buy (and this is being super conservative - since we just look at one month).

Choose the LESS WRONG one.
I would say that it depends on what you're trying to achieve. The less wrong one isn't always the best option. All models make assumptions. Sometimes you need to be conservative and go for a lower bound solution that makes additional assumptions (more wrong) just to be safe. Other times you can go for a upper bound solution that is closer to what you expect actual reality to be, making fewer assumptions.

You just consider what's the most important thing you look for from a course, and read the reviews and other sources of info
That is great, but the trouble with doing that is that you may do all this, and still not be able to take a decision. That's when EV comes in.

Here, I think the variable of 'risk tolerance' is different for everyone.
Or 'damage recovery'. Quite relevant for spending big bucks on online courses, as well.

Sure, you can earn it back, if the downside is that you lose all the capital.
But not everyone has the same earning capacity.
I agree, but I am interested to learn how YOU can personally quantify such factors (risk tolerance, damage recovery, etc.) for yourself, mathematically. And how you can take the RIGHT decisions. Otherwise we're left just with our gut decisions, and our instincts. Not that these are necessarily BAD ways to take decisions, but they are not precise, the way math is precise. And they can be wrong.
 
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Well, let's calculate it.

$500/$50,000 < Ps
1:100 < Ps
So the probability of success must be greater than 1 out of 100 tries, meaning 1%.

So if the course gives you even a 1% chance to make $50,000 income, then you should pay $500 for it. It's a GOOD decision.

As you can see, in this case, your probability of success doesn't actually have to be very big at all to make it a good investment.

Another way to think about it - if you can make $50,000 1% of the time by buying the course, then you should buy it!
Love this, and your equation is really good.

I took a $500 audience-building course when I moved to Facebook marketing followed by another $500 course from the same marketer on monetising FB audiences.

I was very impressed and made 100x more than the courses cost. I'd say 1% is a good estimate for how many people in the community group who were on the same courses were also making $100k+ income.

When you go to $250k+ income though it was probably more like 1 in 1000, as in a few people in a group of 3000-4000 people were reaching that height...

So when the marketer changed her prices from $1000 for both courses to $1500 for each course I stopped endorsing her to small businesses and entrepreneurs as it no longer seems worth it.

The value didn't increase that much, which was disappointing. She definitely motivated me to want to help people in the same way her first courses helped me, and at a price people can afford, some day.
 

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My litmus test for buying any course/program...

- If I get one extra sale or one larger sale is it paid off?
- Is this something that could be directly related to getting me that sale?
- Does it seem like it would work/the person is legit?
- Is what I’m about to learn also useful in another area?

If all are a decent yes - then I’m in.
 
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- If I get one extra sale or one larger sale is it paid off?
YES! This is one of the strategies I resort to most often when trying to put a value on a course to use in my calculation to be conservative :)

- Is this something that could be directly related to getting me that sale?
This factor I believe needs to be considered in greater detail. Namely, how far away from getting the money is the skill that you're learning?

For example, take learning something that can change your mindset. With a book like the Power of Now. Changing your mindset can lead to revolutionary changes in your life, I'm sure you'll admit to that.

At the same time, changing your mindset is far removed from getting to the money. Meaning, changing your mindset alone, will not get you to the money. That's why the book costs $12. Inside this price one has to factor in the UNCERTAINTY which is created by the relative distance from getting direct monetary value.

But now, take a course teaching you to be a freelance copywriter and make $$ -> that's less removed from the money. Meaning you have to go through less obstacles from where you are when you finish the course to actually making money. So that can demand a price of, say $667, for that reason.

- Does it seem like it would work/the person is legit?
- Is what I’m about to learn also useful in another area?
These are standard criteria, and they're great.

Thanks for sharing :)
 

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So I'm not sure why you make such a big fuss about my eBook in a thread that isn't even about it. Is it wrong to create and sell an eBook like mine? Am I a "guru" now, or what? Is everyone selling an info product a guru or a thief?

Personally, I wish I had access when I started out to a resource like this. I could've gone straight to charging $150/hr at least as a copywriter then, instead of $20/hr as I did back in the day. And I could've gone straight in working on sales funnels for people. Or could've started selling my own products right away, etc.

My agency and I are actually creating an updated version of the eBook with follow-along templates and more to help people based on the feedback we have received so far. We will give it for free to existing buyers, and we will increase the price to $299 or more for new buyers. I supposed now THAT makes me a guru...

In fact, I tell you what - once we have the updated version ready (the $299+ one), I will give you a FREE copy. All I ask in exchange is that you review it and give me HONEST PUBLIC feedback. Deal? :) I'm sure if I'm a guru you'll be the first to help everyone by letting them know. How does that sound to you?
Dang, promoting your eBook in a reply to someone calling you out on promoting your eBook. You got ballz.

Don't wait, price goes up to$299! Get it now for $47.


Btw I'm not taking sides this was just funny I hope no one glossed over this
 
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Dang, promoting your eBook in a reply to someone calling you out on promoting your eBook. You got ballz.

Don't wait, price goes up to$299! Get it now for $47.


Btw I'm not taking sides this was just funny I hope no one glossed over this
Well, the only reason why I brought it up is because I found it incredibly rude to be accused of starting this topic to promote my "low quality" eBook in @AgainstAllOdds's opinion - and I do believe that if someone does this, then they should have skin in the game. The reason I mentioned the eBook update is because that's the version I'd want him to review (it will be 10x better than current one, and about 2-3x bigger - we're half done with it at the moment). And the eBook update is mentioned already in the Sell me Saturday thread, so it's nothing new, that I said on the spot or whatever.

If he wants to say that I'm using this thread to promote my shitty eBook, that's fine with me, but then he should actually get my offer (I'll give it for free to him) and show some skin by checking out if it's actually shitty. Otherwise just about anyone can blabber nonsense like this:

Edit: Just saw you have a marketplace ad for a course.

Lmao. It all makes sense now.

"BUY MY COURSE AND MAKE 6-FIGURES IN 3 MONTHS!!!

... It will only cost you $47 to change your life forever.

... And yeah, of course I'm making millions of dollars a year!!!

Why is it $47? Because I'm a nice F*cking guy.

Up to you. If you don't want this life changing course, then don't pay $47 for it. Me and all my genius students that bought this $47 course will be driving Lamborghinis on Mars while you sit at home and jerk off!!!

Limited time only!!!"​
 

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