Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey doers, I'm Lucas Chevillard. I currently work full time at home.ht as growth marketer. Before that, I was at Airbnb for 5 years. But the story today is about what I create on the side.
My main side project is an email marketing course combined with some consulting.
I say the main project because when I get bored during the long winter nights in Berlin, I like to explore and experiment with new online territories.
E.g. a fun Shopify store selling french meme like OSS 117 Tshirts to test paid traffic and organic, a Youtube gaming channel with more than 50K subscribers, a comparison website for email service providers, an Ebook on why Discord is better than Slack, and my personal blog…
It’s also my project that has been seen by the most people. Until now, more than 1050 persons took the course to help them learn how to increase sales with powerful email marketing and automation.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
A founder wanted me to join his company to become the email marketing lead. This was not something I could satisfy but I still wanted to help this startup as I was interested in the product. I then decided to spend some time on the side to help them craft their engagement strategy.
From there, I started to do it with more companies. It was a succession of consulting missions next to my full-time job. This helped me understand other industries and especially see the recurring problems a company would face when launching its email marketing strategy.
That's when the first idea of the email marketing course came to life. I wanted to bundle my knowledge into an actionable course for companies that wanted to kickstart their email program.
If you are interested to try the course, feel free to use the code GROWTHECOLE to try it with 25% off.
I had started to put a rough outline together when I received the opportunity to create a course for the project of a former Airbnb colleague. His project: Clickminded started as an SEO course and he wanted to shift to a full suite of online marketing courses.
I accepted his offer and was ready to complete the outline based on our discussions. All I needed was time and brainpower to create the course and he would take care of the rest.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
For an online course, it always starts with an outline of what you want to talk about. I had a pretty solid outline before chatting with Tommy but he also had some great ideas to make it more actionable.
The key is to not start the presentation design before you have everything you want to say in the text outline!
After the outline and presentation were done, it was just like following a SOP that he had put together for the teachers. The fact that he had already a successful SEO course really helped a lot.
My first draft outline of the course
The only thing I bought to create this course was a good USB microphone to record my voice. As the sound quality is a deal-breaker for many online courses. Everything else was just through Google Suite, a free recording software and my computer webcam.
All the editing was taken care of by Tommy's team. This makes the work so much easier as I know how (Youtube channel mentioned above) editing can be time-consuming.
The course is hosted on Clickminded platform which means I have 0 maintenance to do on it. We then have a great revenue share agreement through their affiliate program.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Two parts for launching: for the consulting one. It was as described in the previous part and then it was mostly referrals. I have tried to create a specific section on my personal site to sell this but it didn't work as well as referral from previous founders that were talking to other founders.
Recently I have canceled my subscription to Thrive themes that I had taken especially for designing a good sales page. After 2 years it was clear that this was not the main driver and was time to cut the cost there. A simple Wordpress theme is more than enough to start with or if your acquisition channel is not directly online.
For the online course, it was part of Clickminded's release of their new digital marketing courses. The launch was a great pre-launch series of their user base. From my side, I've only supported it from my part as a teacher and by doing an introduction webinar.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Definitely word of mouth for consultation gigs, which also brings leads for the course.
Some of the consultation gigs only need what is covered in the course. So I prefer to send them there first and if they have more questions, we can talk about some consultation hours.
For the online course, I have a couple of entry points that are working well like this medium post about Email marketing quality score, some articles on my blog and also a site I started to review email marketing platforms: emailtech.co.
The goal with this site was not focused on selling the course but I'm starting to rank well for some search queries related to email marketing and this is bringing leads for the course. So I want to expand that.
I have tried paid acquisition on Google and Facebook but I haven't found a model that works to sell the course. So I prefer to keep my marketing dollars for now.
Another idea was to search manually for public posts on LinkedIn mentioning email marketing course or similar topics. As it’s not uncommon on LinkedIn or Facebook to ask for recommendation. After finding some posts, I commented on their posts and recommended the course. I got in touch with a couple of leads but that’s about it. It could be interesting to automate such process and see in the long run.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
There is also huge volatility in the revenue as many months will usually be without any sales and some months will have sales plus consulting hours sold at the same time. But this project doesn't cost me much, so it can be run like this.
Remember that this is only a side project and I don't spend much time on it. So I don't expect to live from it. Currently, this is not my goal, to be honest. At least for now, as I know I want to create my own business at some point but I feel that these ideas are not big enough for me.
In the future, I'd like to develop my SEO presence and increase the lead volume for the course. I have a clear idea and a roadmap in mind. The only barrier is to this is analysis paralysis.
The course content is quite future proof but can always get refreshed after a couple of years. I’m currently thinking about other course ideas I would like to develop but nothing concrete.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Done is better than perfect.
This is so true. Even though I know it, I often still fall into perfecting an idea. So it's an ongoing battle with your mind to ship stuff rather than making it pixel perfect.
I'm really glad I didn't start my online course on my own. Because building it from the ground up and promoting it is a huge deal. I'll always be thankful to Tommy for this opportunity. If you have the option to create a course like this, just do it. You'll learn more about what makes the course sell versus learning the struggle of building your online presence which usually means no sale.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I tend to try new tools to see what is out there which is not a good thing. It consumes too much time. So stick to a few that you know and only when you have clear limitations seek out new ones.
My golden list:
For all my other side projects
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Podcasts are my go-to source. Founder Chats with Josh from Baremetrics and The Tropical MBA are really good ones. On both podcasts, you learn so much from the mistakes and successes of people of different horizons. It's really inspiring.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I already mentioned that but shipping it is so much more important than making it perfect and then launching.
Reading Starter Story has also been great to become fully conscious about this. As everyone here just did it.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
There is one thing I don't like to do but I need more of, it's writing: so feel free to reach out if this is something you love doing and are interested in my projects.
Where can we go to learn more?
- My email marketing course (GROWTHECOLE for 25% off)
- My blog
- My Shopify store
- My Linkedin
- My email
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.
- 4,818 founder case studies
- Access to our founder directory
- Live events, courses and recordings
- 8,628 business ideas
- $1M in software savings