Teach Your Gift with Danny Iny
Now more than ever, people all over the world need online teachers who can help them learn new skills without any need to travel or leave their homes. Your knowledge and experience — no matter how you’ve gained it — is valuable, and people need you to share what you know, so that they can improve their lives with your help. We had a chat with powerhouse Danny Iny on how to teach your gift, and below is a detailed guide on how to create AND Launch your own course! If you are a coach, consultants, authors, speakers or expert… you can create online course business success NOW using Danny's advice and strategies!
Even if you aren't quite sure how this could work for your business… I hope you'll keep reading, because Danny has opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at how you can change the world with courses! Get ready to get out there and Teach Your Gift!
Some Background on Danny
“The very best reason to trust someone is the results they have produced.”
Danny has been an entrepreneur for longer than his adult life; he quit school when he was 15 to start his first business. His last attempt at a big software start-up was in 2007, building software to teach kids how to read.He raised money from various sources, and they had some good early traction. But he was a young and inexperienced CEO in the most complicated industry on the face of the earth and the timing was terrible. Once he finally figured it out in August of 2008, the economy crashed. He took all the losses on personally, acquiring about a quarter of a million dollars in debt.
So…. that sucked but now what?
Anyone who has been through that kind of business implosion knows that it is of course devastating financially, but also emotionally. It’s like going through a bad break-up. You’re not ready to start dating again right away. You need some time to lick your wounds. He still had rent to pay, so how could he make money without it being so complicated? The reality was though, he still had rent to pay, so he decided to start a blog to teach what he had learned over the years. This was his rebound business and long story short, sometimes the rebound is the one. It is the right message at the right time.
He started by teaching things related to marketing, and people would come to him to ask for specific help. His initial answer was, “no,” because he’s “not always so sharp…” (sure…) but, regardless of how sharp HE thought he was the market was asking, so he built a course. Guess what?? His first course did phenomenally well. Surprise, surprise.. His students got great results, and of course they came back for more. He went on to create a second course. Same thing. It did super well; and became his first million-dollar course. They were three years in and making multiple seven-figures.
Then in 2013 his Students started saying, “Danny, I have bought so many online courses, but I never get results. When I get your courses, I get results. Can you teach me how to build courses the way you do?” That is when they dipped their toes in the water of how to build and sell online courses. Over a decade later, they have trained thousands of course-builders and generated tens of millions of dollars of revenue. Just imagine the impact on his students!
These days, you can’t open a browser window without someone saying they can teach people how to do something. Danny has been doing online courses before it was cool, and that is his claim to fame. I love the history piece of Danny’s book. Back in the day when I went through Danny’s course, I actually had time, so I truly went through it. It was one of the only courses I actually went through. We are currently doing a revamp of Camera Confidence for the first time in a while. And I still have Danny’s advice in my ear of how to make sure that your members actually learn and get wins out of your courses.
The History & Pricing of Online Courses
Whenever something new is introduced into the world, it proliferates in society on a fairly predictable curve. This is based on research by Rogers Everett’s, The Diffusion of Innovation. If you ever saw a bell curve that says “Innovator,” “Early Adopter,” “Mainstream Buyer,” that’s what they’re talking about. The people who are interested in something that’s brand new are the innovators and early adopters and their buying behaviors are different from that of “normal people.”
Let’s say the beginning of online courses was around the year 2000, when Google was brand new.
If you think about the first smartphone, it was a giant brick with a battery life of 20 minutes and could barely run four apps, it would crash all the time, and it was really expensive. But innovators and early adopters were happy to pay for that. Fast forward to now. It lasts for days and runs a million apps and is fairly reasonably priced, and we still complain. Lol!
Do you consider yourself an innovator or early adopter? Think about it.
When Danny was here in January, the book was coming out soon, and we had no idea what would be happening in the world at that point. This is an amazing time for you to jump in and innovate. Innovators and early adopters will be over-represented in a community like this for sure, but here’s a modern-day test to know, just like what kind of Disney princess you are.
- If you have more than two things in your house that you backed on Kickstarter, you count, for sure.
- If you have more than two things that you never use, that you just thought would be cool.
I have a Pivo, a cool little video tool that I love and don’t have time to use. My house is truly filled with stuff like this. And there are benefits to both sides. It’s just how people think.
Let’s say the beginning of online courses was around the year 2000, when Google was brand new, so consider 2000-2015, the “early days” of online courses, the Wild West. Because they are brand new, the market is not saturated. The first person on the scene has a huge share of voice. Your ad cots are low, there are loopholes in the platforms, the early days are easy.
Marketers will talk about three fundamental human drivers.
- Financial stability and security
- Health and well-being and survival
- Love and relationships
Or getting paid, getting laid, and staying alive.
You can’t have a course about how to make tons of money while you sleep and sell it to normal people because it doesn’t pass the eyebrow test, but innovators will think there’s a chance that will work. In the early unregulated space, sure, why not, let’s give it a shot. So you have bombastic promises on what courses can deliver and because you are selling to innovators, this is a price insensitive market, and stuff was really expensive. Courses were $2,000 for a bunch of crappy videos and a membership site. That lasted for a while. The transition into the mainstream happened during 2015-2019, or so.
That push was partially because they had been around for so long, and because some bigger mainstream players entered the scene:
Coursera ,Masterclass, Udemy, LinkedIn Learning (aka Linda)
These have all raised hundreds of millions of dollars in VC in aggregate. I did buy Christina Aguilera’s MasterClass when it first came out. Now I have a membership, which is awesome, but it’s so mainstream of people you never would imagine they would have an online course
So this is where we are now. The Covid-19 health crisis has dramatically accelerated what was already happening here. Everyone who was hesitant about online courses got shoved into the deep end overnight. Zoom went from 10 million monthly active users to 200 million in 30 days. LinkedIn learning saw a 50% week-over-week growth. In terms of pricing, the market split in two directions.
There are two kinds of online courses out there.
People used to talk about info-products, language that I hated. Think about what is an information product outside of the Internet?
The archetypal example is a book in a bookstore. You go to a bookstore, find the book that purports to have the information you’re looking for, take it to the register, pay for it (not a lot of money, and you walk out of the bookstore and nobody owes you anything.
You are on your own. You got what you paid for. If you do nothing with it, that’s on you.
The archetypal offline example would be a college course.
You register for a college course, and you pay a lot of money. (market forces and educational inflation lead to that). It costs more to deliver because you have the professor, TAs, and infrastructure. You could still sign up for that course, stay home, and do nothing, and that’s on to you. But if you show up and do the work, it is reasonable for you to expect that the instructor and institution will help you succeed.The responsibility for your success is a partnership between you and the teacher.
So info courses are videos and a membership site. They could be nice and credible and well-produced, but it’s just that. That is what you find on MasterClass and Udemy. It’s a race to the bottom in terms of the price. They are all going for around $100-$150. And there are so many more of these at the pay-what-you-can pricing model in this day and age. We did a course like that called Sell It First. But I knew I would not offer any extra coaching calls or group support. It was like the book situation. They were buying those learning materials, and that was it.
This is where I wanted to go in this conversation. It’s a race to bottom in terms of price, and it’s a competitive, saturated market. You are competing with the authority and recognition of celebrities, and the reach and distribution of major platforms. If you are an aspiring screenwriting instructor who wants to create a course around that, you won’t create a successful info product because you are competing with Aaron Sorkin and the distribution capabilities of MasterClass. This is where impostor syndrome can creep up, so we are going to teach you how to avoid this. Let’s talk about why this won’t work.
What does it take to create passive income?
You need a low-priced product. It has to be low-priced because if it’s now low-priced, it’s not passive to sell. And it’s not passive to deliver.
It also has to be a high volume. Low price x low volume = runs out of passive income
The challenge is it’s hard to do meaningful volume on a low price. You have to acquire the customer.
Back of the napkin math, rule of thumb: Take your retail price and divide it by three.
Let’s say you’re selling a course for $90. Divide that by 3. You have $30 that goes to fulfillment. Delivering the experience people are paying for. To support 100 students, you need 1 part-time virtual assistant doing tech support. That’s roughly your salary for part-time VA: $30 x 100. When we sell a course at any price, roughly a third of that will go toward the cost of creating that experience. Another third is contribution profits. So overhead or real profit. And the last third is customer acquisition. So you can spend roughly $30 to acquire a customer on a $90 course. This is difficult to do. You can run a Facebook ad, spending $5 per lead, converting 1/50 (these are optimistic numbers). That’s $250 to acquire a customer.
There are two ways to get more reach to your videos:
A hard cost. Spend $30 on the video for the Facebook ad.
A soft cost. Donate your time so you can invest the time to go connect with humans individually and become a Facebook ad yourself.
The challenge is how to acquire customers at a super low cost, so you can make the passive income thing work if you have an unfair advantage.
Let’s say you have a mailing list of 200,000 subscribers. This is the Kylie Jenner strategy; her following was already there. If you’re on MasterClass because you’re a big-name celebrity, they are doing the customer acquisition and marketing for you. Venture capital backing helps there, too. If you are a big-name celebrity who people are following, that is an unfair advantage.Barring one of those unfair advantages, you can’t make it work. So you are left with the other side of the coin: education.
Back to the screenwriting example.
This is not 10 years ago where nobody knows about online screenwriting courses. They know about these because Aaron Sorkin and MasterClass did the heavy lifting. But the fact that people have done it proves that there are potential buyers out there for you! You always prefer a saturated market because that means there are interested customers. There are things that information is great for, and things that it’s not so good for.
Information is good for: opening up new possibilities. It’s good for integrating new knowledge into existing expertise. It’s good for entertainment. MasterClass is definitely in the bucket of edutainment. It feels like a Netflix series a little bit.
Information is not great for: Imparting competence; Nobody gets good at things by reading books, But we do learn about things.When it comes to creating your video content, so many people live in this scarcity mindset, where they are worried about putting information out there to the point where people will stop buying their programs. So information is good for a lot of things. But it’s not good for imparting competence. We don’t get good at things by reading books. You learn about things by reading books. If you want someone who is good at something, it takes more than that.
Again, back to the screenwriting instructor example.
You’re very good at what you do, but you don’t have the authority or credibility of Aaron Sorkin. A lot of people know they are interested in learning about this, but they know that watching Sorkin didn’t make them a better screenwriter. I want to be a better screenwriter. Who is going to help me? Certainly not Aaron Sorkin. He’s a bit busy. So if you want to create a $100 course to compete with Sorkin, you’re screwed. But if you want to create the $1,000 course that you take after Aaron Sorkin to get really good, and you will give guidance and feedback, that is the opportunity!
Okay so if we use that strategy and napkin math, dividing that by 3… Oh, then we now have a scary number…It was a 666. When I worked on a cruise, they called me a witch. lol!
Okay. Instead say your course is $2,400. Divide that by 3.You now have $800 to market the sucker, deliver it, and the overhead of your business (or possibly profit)! While it’s not passive, it is a good business.
The final steps to creating an online course
Developing a Winning Course from an IdeaWhat does a learning journey look like? There are three steps here.
The first step is consumption.
You watch the video, listen to the audio, etc. This is the information piece. You need this because without it, you start at nothing. If all you have is that, you don’t go very far.
The second step is application.
I take what I learned and do something with it. It can be theoretical, like exercises, or practical, like going live on Facebook.
The third step is integration.
This is where your application meets feedback so you can learn what’s working and what’s not. You develop expertise. That feedback can come from natural consequences of the world, or it can be from a coach or peer giving guidance.
Real learning happens through those three steps: consumption, application, and integration through feedback. So if we are designing a learning journey, we want to begin with the end in mind. Structural designers call this backward integrated design. Ask yourself, “When all this is done, what do I want them to feel, remember, know?”
It’s not just that, though, but how well do I want them to know it?
If I want to teach you Hamlet, what do I need to do?
If I want you to know the story, I can do that in 10 minutes.
If I want you to recite it or perform it, it will be much more.
Then we can start thinking in order to create this transformation, what needs to go into it?
-What do I need to explain?
-What do they need to practice?
-How can I get them feedback?
This is where you get really creative BUT this can be challenging because we are constrained by our frame of reference. People want to model what they know. We all have a frame of reference based on the type of education that we went through.
There is a great line by John Medina, a neuroscientist:
“If you go into a room with the world’s leading behavioral therapists and scientists and everyone who knows how the brain works, and ask them to design the world’s worst learning environment and working environment, they will design the classroom and the cubicle.”
While these are terrible structures for learning and working, there are some advantages. While the classroom is not optimal, but it can be powerful, BUT if you try to take a classroom and force it online, it becomes a poor mans’s version of something that doesn’t work to begin with. Why is our paradigm of education that a class is 45-90 minutes once a week on a weekly schedule? How many courses are like that? That has nothing to do with creating a great learning environment. This has to do with synchronizing a bunch of schedules to be in the same place at the same time, not about the optimal learning environment.
Let’s assume you have teaching experience and are a good teacher. How do I take the classroom online? BAD. Don’t do it. You have to look at it differently:In the classroom, what would I do? What am I accomplishing by that? And how do I create that accomplishment online?
Danny does a three-day in-person event once a year called “Lift.” He had to do it a few weeks ago online, and he only had three weeks to take it virtual. He is not the kind of instructor just talking to people on stage; it’s dynamic and interactive. There are a lot of breakout sessions into partner and table discussions. But in a virtual course of his size, the action of “Discuss with your neighbor” simply doesn’t translate. Sure, there are Zoom breakout rooms, but it takes time to assign rooms, and you can do up to 50 breakouts. That’s it. If you have more than 100 people on the call, nope.
Danny knew he would have to adjust. He looked at the times in the curriculum where he says, “Discuss with your neighbor.” And then WHY he was doing it. Sometimes it’s a state change to break up the rhythm. Sometimes it’s to remind people they are not alone in this experience. Sometimes it’s to reflect more deeply on the content. As he did this, he realized that “Discuss with your neighbor” is a brute force tool. So he found other interesting ways to accomplish the goals of “Lift” online.
When Danny is in the room, there is a session where he talks about money and money mindset. He has people do an exercise, “Write down how much you can afford to invest in your business.” This is private information. Then they talk about a bunch of stuff. Then they do another exercise, “If there was a crazy nightmare situation, where you need to liquidate all your resources, what is the sum of everything you have? Take stock of what you have to work with.”
In person nobody is sharing these numbers, but let’s talk about how they are still impactful.
IF Danny was in the room, he would say, “Stand up if there is more than a $1,000 gap.”
The whole room stands up.He moves on to say, “Stay standing if it’s more than $2,000” and keeps going up to $50k or $100k. Two thirds of the room are still standing at this point and he asks everyone to sit. It’s a powerful exercise because it’s vivid and challenges your thinking.
So how would Danny do this exercise online? Even if he did have everyone stand up on camera, and they all agreed to do it, then there would be a wall of everyone’s crotches, which is not a shot he wanted.
So how to create the same effect otherwise?
What he did was send everyone this blue envelope in preparation for the event. So the first step was to grab the envelope and hold it in front of the camera.If the difference is more than $1,000, hold the blue envelope up to your camera. The whole screen went blue. He had the same effect, but he had needed to figure out a new way of accomplishing that.
While it may seem like a whole lot of information, and well, it is, the bottom line is YOU CAN create a world-class course, in order to teach your gift.
Now, what about fear? Well, in his book Dany quotes, Seth Godin: “If it scares you, it might be something worth doing.” Be scared. But DO IT ANYWAY. When you get that feeling of fear, it’s most likely a sign you are exactly where you should be. If you need some help facing those fears, and moving your business forward, check out THIS post about going from a hidden gem to a household name.
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