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My online education business started with one course. Just one program called the Jenna Kutcher Course that opened my eyes to what’s truly possible when you build a product that sells and serves while you sleep. Now, with several programs, hundreds of freebies, intricate funnels, a blog, Facebook groups and Insta-accounts and more… I know you probably look at my business and think, sure, that sounds great, but it also sounds so complex. And hard. And too overwhelming to even comprehend what your ONE course, your first online program could look like.
Danielle Leslie is a firm believer in the power of ONE. She’s creator of Course from Scratch, and it’s with that ONE course and ONE funnel that she has generated $8 million in revenue in 3 years. We’re going to talk about the course, about her methods, and about the systems that have 1 in 6 of her students quitting their day jobs and going full-time entrepreneur with their online programs.
I mean, come on. This stuff is my JAM and I’m truly excited to nerd out with another course creator right now. I’ll be taking notes right along with you.
The Moment It Clicked
Sometimes it feels like you can hear the same message and idea over and over again, from so many sources — the universe, God, people in your life, but it’s not until one pinnacle moment when it all clicks. For Danielle, there were a few moments that led her to realize she could monetize her knowledge online.
It started when she moved back in with her mom, wrapping a stint in Silicon Valley. Danielle watched a video of Brendon Burchard talking about the idea of monetizing your knowledge and she took frantic notes. Then, a friend sent her an episode of Marie TV that discussed building a brand. The ideas were all building inside her.
People were asking if she’d started an email list, if she had explored digital products or courses… The message was coming through, but it wasn’t until 2011 when it really dawned on her that with no income, no car, living at her mother’s apartment, monetizing her knowledge was a way she could create a new life for herself.
The very first thing Danielle did was enroll herself in her first course all about effectively teaching online. From there, she scoured the internet for as many free resources she could find. “I joined email lists, I reverse engineered their funnels, I watched YouTube videos… I did everything I could to learn about this industry,” she explained.
When she was ready to launch her first course, she started with her story. “I might be in my mom’s house right now, but before that, I organized a national tour!” and so she decided to teach people what she knew.
For her first launch, Danielle said she did what she calls DTM. “I did too much,” she laughed. She had webinars, affiliates, complex funnels, a video series, all the things, and then, “I ended up getting one sale. And that sale didn’t even come from my webinars or email list, they came from one of my random YouTube videos.”
Danielle had posted a video in a private Facebook group looking for feedback, and from there, someone private messaged her interested in joining her program. She was almost shocked that someone wanted to purchase what she had created, but sold that first course for $1000. She was hooked on the course world from then on.
That simplicity of her first ever sale is what she teaches her students today.
The Journey to One Course, One Funnel
“That’s what’s really become part of my identity. Doing the most with the least,” Danielle explained. She has just one course called Course from Scratch at a $2000 price point and it’s grown from $0 to $8 million in three years. But it didn’t start there.
She worked with her one paying student plus two other students for free to make sure she was delivering results with her program. But that’s when she realized she wasn’t ready and needed to be mentored further. Danielle reached out to the top names in online education and pitched a role for herself within the companies.
She got a full-time position at Udemy, becoming an internal course launch coach. Part of the position was working with all kinds of people, and Danielle quickly learned that you can create a course on any topic and you can make as much as you want, but that everyone starts on the same learning curve of turning an audience into a paying customer.
Danielle was scouted and recruited by another company in Silicon Valley to do the same thing and helped a hair-focused company launch their online course. However, she was eventually laid off. In that in-between time, people were seeking her out as a launch and course consultant.
Those methods for course creation and launching became the foundation of her Course from Scratch in 2016.
Stay the Course
Her first launch of Course from Scratch was $20K over 60 days, and it felt forced. Like so many of us, she battled imposter syndrome, she felt she wasn’t ready, despite all of the real experience and knowledge she had collected in her online education career.
“One thing we forget about is looking at what we have access to right now,” she explained. At the time of her first launch, she was friends with someone putting on a women’s marketing conference. Danielle put on a webinar for them and used that to pre-sell her program. That webinar led to $8K in sales.
When I asked her what has changed in her course or launch process, she told me something I LOVED, “The only thing that changed is one, that I now stay the course and I keep going. Back then, after I did that first course, guess what I did? I spent nine months doubting myself, pausing…”
Danielle started to question everything and even brought it back to MVC or minimum viable course. She stripped her program down to the beginning again, doing it live to test the concept. She finally found her stride about a year and a half in.
“Stay the course. Know that the people who have ‘made it’ were people who kept going. The people who didn’t make it, they just stopped,” she explained.
“I remember: It goes back to the math and the message.”
The Power of One
It might be tempting to look at other creators in the space and get overwhelmed by their complex launches with affiliates, funnels, and more… But that’s them. That’s their launch, 10 years in. You need to set YOUR goals.
Danielle’s advice: “Walk before you run when you set the goal. And stay focused on the goal. How can you draw a straight line from yourself to the cash?”
There are a lot of things Danielle didn’t do — no blog posts, no YouTube videos, no lead magnets besides her webinar. She focuses on one funnel. “I found one thing that worked and I worked at it.”
She teaches her students the same thing. Find what your thing is, that thing that WORKS, and focus on it. Danielle loves automation and creating a framework around one thing. She has one opt-in (webinar/masterclass), one email sequence that leads to inviting people to enroll in her one course, and she has one set of ads that changes from launch to launch. And that’s it.
Simplifying your process is a lot like walking into a restaurant with a highly refined and pared down menu. You know what you’re going to get is perfected, and it doesn’t take you forever to make a choice. But a restaurant with a 10 page menu? THAT is cause for decision fatigue. We connected on this comparison, and Danielle advises you be like the “pre fixe menu” of course launching.
“A question that guides me is how can I serve my customer in the highest way for the longest period of time on their journey?” Or simply, how can you stay relevant to your customer? How do you continue to serve your customer when they’re hungry for more?
More from this Episode
What’s next from Danielle and how is she delivering more value to her customers? What does “culture add” mean and what is YOUR culture add? What’s the difference between a life-changing course and a single skill focused program? What is her TASTY content framework that you’ll want to adopt ASAP?
This conversation with Danielle is rich with actionable insights and knowledge. Honestly, her approach to course creation and launching is so different from mine, that if the concept hasn’t landed for you before, if you still feel unsure about the course world, I promise this interview will make you think differently. Press play right now and find it on your favorite podcast app.
And don’t forget to snag your free Culture Add resource from Danielle!