How many online courses or coaching programs have you invested in this year?
How many were worth the time and money spent?
I’ve been a compulsive online course taker for as long as I’ve been in business. My course budget is probably as big as our software budget (sorry, Ben!)
There’s just SOOO much to learn, and I absolutely love learning from people whose brains work so differently than mine.
I’ve taken and attended courses, seminars, masterclasses, conferences, and in-person retreats on everything from time management to sustainability, strategic planning, design thinking, creative leadership, content marketing strategy, and more.
I’ve been using Notion to try to keep a better record of:
- The courses I’m taking
- How much I’m investing in my learning
- My insights and takeaways
- Key concepts, patterns, and relations across my studies
In 2019, I was more discerning and knew that any new courses I purchased needed to have a very clear return on investment.
This year I couldn’t help myself, and picked up a few more courses, all of which have been excellent investments.
I want to share with you the courses I invested in this year, and what I took away.
There are NO affiliate links in the list below. These are simply courses I’ve personally loved and enjoyed.
1The very first course I purchased in 2019 was Sphere of Influence by Andre Chapperon. Sphere of Influence is a process of building “systems of invisible influence” that work to MOVE people towards YOU. people are ATTRACTED (PULLED) towards you, not interrupted, pushed, coerced, pressured, or bribed to listen to your message.
I hesitated for a while before buying this course, and decided to reach out to a few folks who I knew had taken it. (Did I really need ANOTHER course about marketing?)
One of these folks told me they made their money back on it with their first launch, and that it was probably one of the best investments they’d ever made in their business.
Dang. Alright then. Add to cart.
WOW. This course is MEATY. There’s a LOT of content, and it goes very deep. The majority of the course is written content with lots of diagrams, which I quite enjoyed.
I found myself nodding a ton at his approach, which felt like the opposite of many other slimy marketing approaches that feel like they think customers are complete idiots.
I revisit the content and material from this course often as part of my monthly review, and have a ton of sketches and notes that I made for myself while I was going through this course.
Not only did this course help me personally, but it also helped me explain marketing concepts to my clients, so I felt so much better equipped to help my clients along with their content marketing.
2The next course wasn’t really a course so much as a SUITE of courses, and that is The Full Disruptive Design Methodology Masterclass | The Entire Knowledge Bundle by Leyla Acaroglu of Unschools.
I’m currently doing a diploma in Permaculture with a focus on sustainable business, so this suite of courses was such a perfect complement to the mentorship I’m getting through my Diploma process.
I’m still working through these courses, but at my own pace. These courses for me are about my own personal exploration of sustainability, and not necessarily intended for any specific “business outcomes,” but the content is really inspiring how I think about the consulting that I do.
This one is such a lovely business/personal combo. It feels like self care to do this work, while also influencing that way I think about business.
3 The next course I purchased in 2019 was Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte.
If you’ve followed along with almost any of my Notion videos, you’ve probably noticed the influence of this course both in terms of how I organize my workspace, as well as how I am more intentional about what I’m consuming.
I mention Tiago often because I have relied heavily on his PARA Method of organizing digital information, and have integrated his teachings heavily into the way I approach my Notion setup, as well as those of my clients.
I believe Notion is so well suited to Building a Second Brain, even more so than Evernote (where your note has to live in one folder…)
This course has totally changed how I consume content and organize my files, resources, and tasks.
I brought Tiago onto an office hours so he could show us how he uses Notion to plan his blogging workflow. I also did an office hours with fellow second-brainer and Notion nerd, Maria Aldrey, Building a Second Brain with Notion.
4 The next purchase i made was Taylor Pearson’s The Effective Entrepreneur. I have been a huge fan of Taylor’s writing for the last year, and have gotten so much value out his articles, I figured it was time to invest in his course.
I love how well-researched Taylor’s work is. A lot of the concepts weren’t necessarily new to me, but were framed in really helpful ways. I found his personal examples of his planning + reviews really helpful.
I adapted many of my own personal Notion templates to integrate the questions and processes that Taylor recommends here, which I found to be a really great complement to the 12 Week Year approach which I’ve been using for many years.
I took this course during a time where I was over-booked, and needed some fresh perspective on creating more space in my schedule, so I found it really valuable.
5 The biggest (and scariest) investment I made in my business this year was joining Mariah Coz’s Accelerator program for course-based businesses. I had purchased Mariah’s Webinar Rockstar course several years ago, but never had the courage to follow through on doing a webinar. You know, because being on video is scary.
Then I finally ran my first real webinar in August 2019: Getting Started with Notion. I had nothing to sell, I was just really excited about what Notion was doing for for me and my business and had to share!!!
From that day forward, business exploded. I had no idea the traction and fervour that was to follow once I had put myself out there to show people how I was using Notion.
That Mariah, she’s onto something.
I had also watched many of Mariah’s free trainings and videos and gotten so much value from them. I was frequently sending my clients to her post, How to replace your income with an online course for a reality check in terms of what it takes to really make a living off online courses.
Now you might be wondering, wait a second, don’t you teach people how to make online courses?
Kind of. I help people test the market by creating an MVP of their course. I teach people to do customer research, and to make sure they are creating what people are really asking for. I guide my clients through the process of launching their online courses, automating their systems, designing their sales pages, helping them improve their copy for more conversions, and helping them organize their systems behind the scenes.
But I don’t have the marketing systems chops to know how to create evergreen courses that truly scale.
High-touch coaching programs, client services, and hybrid course-coaching models? YES, that’s totally my jam.
But marketing engines for autopilot sales? Marketing systems? This is the part that Mariah has dialed in, and I wanted to know more. How could I scale my efforts while still maintaining the intimacy that I love about client services?
I wondered, would it be weird to take Mariah’s Accelerator when I too offer courses about courses? I reached out to her directly, and she told me she had been wondering why I hadn’t signed up yet, as I would be a perfect fit.
I reached out to two others who had taken her program, and both agreed that it was well worth the investment, even at $10k ($12k with a payment plan).
It would be the biggest investment I had ever made in my business in one go, but it felt like the right next move. I trusted my gut and sent in my application.
Now, to be fair, the Accelerator is not exactly an “online course,” it’s more like a coaching program where you get access to all (or nearly all) of her other courses, alongside a weekly critique calls and coaching calls for an entire year, as well as a super helpful + supportive Facebook group.
By the first call my brain was buzzing. I knew that I needed to make some major changes to my schedule if I was ever going to launch and sustain my own product ecosystem. My Notion content was getting me noticed in the community, and I was often getting asked whether or not I had a course available!
Within the first few weeks of joining the Accelerator:
- I sent out a few difficult emails and let a few long-term clients go. It was so hard but so necessary for me to clear space for my projects and incredibly aligned opportunities that were coming in.
- Partnered with Notion to start running weekly office hours under their brand.
- Doubled down on creating YouTube content for Notion.
- Secured my first big Notion team consult, followed by 2 more.
Within a month I was quietly launching a pre-sale for Notion Mastery, a course I had outlined but hadn’t created yet. (This is currently being piloted and will be released in December!)
Two things I know for sure:
- I would have waited until 2020 to launch the course if Mariah and the group hadn’t told me to stop tinkering with the sales page and just give people a payment link already.
- I would have capped the number of people joining the group to 10, (capping the revenue as well) instead of the 30 that actually signed up and paid.
Now I hear Mariah’s voice in my head all the time:
“Why would you put a limit on the number of people who can buy your course? Do you not like making money?”
An online course can still feel intimate at scale. There are nearly 100 people in this round of the Accelerator, yet only 15-25 show up on the group coaching calls. It still feels intimate, and it definitely feels valuable. In fact, I think it’s even more valuable in a group format because you’re learning from so many other business owners who are actually making a full-time living with their online courses.
The success and momentum from the others in the group is incredibly contagious and motivating.
I made my investment back in less than two months of joining.
I know that not every business owner can afford to invest in online courses and coaching programs, especially not at a $10k price-point (until last year I had never paid more than $2k for a single investment in my business)… but if building an evergreen course system is on your radar in 2020, you should seriously consider signing up for the Accelerator. As a self-professed online course junkie, this has been by far the best and most practical investment.
It wasn’t until finally doing the Profit First accounting system that we were able to really see what business revenue was available to invest, but that’s a story for another day…
There you have it: Five investments I made in 2019 that have positively impacted my life and business in a variety of ways.
What courses are you budgeting for in 2020?