How I Made $4,5K In 30 Days With A Business That Sells Templates For Course Creators

Published: February 25th, 2023
Andrew Lawson
Founder, Just Ninety
$4.5K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
Just Ninety
from Canberra ACT, Australia
started December 2022
$4,500
revenue/mo
1
Founders
1
Employees
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Andrew Lawson! I am the founder of Just Ninety. I help professional trainers shorten the time taken to design and develop live virtual courses, by providing ready-to-go corporate training materials.

Just Ninety courseware can be easily downloaded, re-branded (within minutes), and then delivered by trainers. Topics focus on the human skills needed for the digital age and are in an easy-to-digest 90-minute format.

I surveyed a group of trainers recently, and I was shocked to learn that 50% do not recover the cost of course design in their client proposals. (For non-trainers reading this, course design is usually at a lower charge-out fee compared to delivering training). Therefore, anything that helps trainers to reclaim their time on designing courses is a significant benefit, as it allows them to deliver more courses and earn more revenue.

Just Ninety courseware is purchased through three pathways:

(1) A “sample course” – a single course for a set fee. A great way to sample our best selling training course!

(2) The “starter pack” – gives access to five popular 90-minute courses for trainers. This is the perfect way to get access to multiple courses for trainers for a great bundle price..

(3) The “trainer library” – access to our library of corporate training materials plus our "trainer community" for a monthly fee!

I launched just over 4-weeks ago and have made $4,500. Right now, I am focused on increasing web traffic and getting more leads into the sales funnel through campaigns.

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Then one afternoon, I took a phone call...the kind of phone call you never want to get!

“It’s come back“ said my doctor; my cancer had come back for a third time in a year. Then I realized I needed to escape the time-for-money hamster wheel.

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I had run another training and consulting company for the past 15 years, and 2020 was set to be a bumper year. Then COVID-19 hit - hard! One by one, clients canceled and within a 48-hour window, a six-month pipeline of bookings was gone.

After recovering from the initial shock, I rang the clients who had canceled and offered to redesign the face-to-face workshops to virtual sessions. Thankfully many came back!

When COVID forced professional trainers to an online model, many fell into the trap of running the same face-to-face programs in an online setting. However, digital training requires a different approach to keep the audience constantly engaged.

I pioneered an approach that kept participants highly engaged through actions every few minutes. The online courses got rave reviews, and clients said that it was “the best online training they had ever attended!”.

Then one afternoon, I took a phone call...the kind of phone call you never want to get!

“It’s come back“ said my doctor; my cancer had come back for a third time in a year. Then I realized I needed to escape the time-for-money hamster wheel and give more time and focus to my loved ones - because I had no idea after beating cancer again - if I'd have time on my side.

Suddenly, these great learning products that I had created during COVID became the platform for launching Just Ninety. And it was a way to help other professional trainers around the globe shorten their design curve, reclaim their time, and generate more revenue too, just like I had done!

I conducted a market validation and discovered that there were only a handful of courseware companies that were focused on the live virtual training space, and none were using the 90-minute format. I knew straight away that I had found a good niche. Most courseware providers in the marketplace are focused on face-to-face training and/or e-learning products, i.e., the way things were done pre-COVID.

With excitement, I funded the launch of Just Ninety.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

All my virtual courses are built on a neuroscience-backed learning model called AGES. This model maximizes learning through four key elements:

Attention - use a meaningful icebreaker, focus on one topic at a time, and use real-world examples.

Generation – help learners connect new information to existing knowledge to generate new neural connections.

Emotion - activates positive emotions through personalized content and activities to enhance memory recall, which tells our brain what we are learning is important.

Spacing – allow adequate spacing between online sessions to allow participants to implement the learning in the workplace and encode it in long-term memory. (I usually recommend virtual training sessions run every fortnight).

These elements are the recipe for creating great course materials.

I delivered and validated these course materials to hundreds of clients during COVID. So, the next phase of product development was all about creating a white-label version for trainers. I focused on making these as user-friendly as possible to facilitate quick changes to branding, color scheme, and images.

A trainer can make branding and theme changes in just a few minutes, and then the course is ready to deliver.

Thinkific (a course creator platform) is what I used for hosting all the course materials for professional trainers. See the screenshot below of the “starter pack.”

just-ninety

The main start-up costs included a detailed launch plan ($3,450), an automated sales funnel system ($10,350), website design and SEO ($1,230), a LinkedIn campaign ($390), incorporation costs ($1,150) and other costs ($590).

I have experienced several challenges, including the exit of a business partner and limited access to capital to grow and expand the business. But more on these later.

Describe the process of launching the business.

I engaged B2B School to undertake strategy sessions. This helped identify the target audience, key content messages, and a 30-day launch plan.

Part 1 of the launch involved building the sales funnel, including:

  • Creating the content and graphic design for the opt-in gift (see image below).
  • Writing a 3-part welcome email sequence, ending with an appointment offer.
  • Developing the appointment offer and a 6-part email sequence.
  • Pulling the campaign together using system automation.
  • Testing the funnel before launch.

just-ninety

The cost of the launch plan and sales funnel was $13,800, and this was funded by my other business.

Part 2 of the launch involved filling the funnel via four primary tactics:

  • LinkedIn campaign for the opt-in gift and appointment.
  • Email reactivation (other professional trainers that I know).
  • Ice cold outreach.
  • LinkedIn advertising.

Note: Only two of the above have been actioned so far, the last two tactics will be activated soon.

The first LinkedIn campaign gained 60 leads, but no one booked the appointment (follow-up call). Part of the approach was to test and measure everything. So, the messaging was tweaked around the appointment. The next LinkedIn campaign gained 25 leads and three appointments booked. The first sales happened here, only a few weeks after launch.

The cost of the LinkedIn campaigns was $390, and this was funded by a credit card.

Part 3 of the launch involved building the website and SEO. The website was created in Thinkific, a course creator platform. The cost of graphic design, website hosting, and SEO was $1,230 in total, and this was funded by a credit card.

The biggest lessons learned from the launch are:

Get the right marketing and sales help. B2B School were great with the strategy and tactics for launch, and the creation of content and the system for the sales funnel. I couldn’t have launched without them.

Choose the right website platform, one that is easy to use, and SEO-friendly, with automated flows and a simple checkout process. Right now, I am focused on increasing web traffic and getting more leads into the sales funnel.

Ensure you are aligned with your business partner and don’t be afraid to call it out if you are not aligned. I had to call out issues several times, and sadly my business partner and I went our separate ways right at the point of launch.

Ensure access to funding to accelerate the launch and growth of the business. Right now, I am investigating crowdfunding for the growth phase.

Test, measure, and iterate everything you do. And you will keep improving and being awesome!

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

These are the steps taken so far to increase traffic and sales:

  • Lead generation through LinkedIn Campaigns.
  • Email reactivation – some 150 professional trainers in the LinkedIn network were put into the sales funnel (this is where the early sales came from).
  • Lead nurturing through the sales funnel – email sequences are sent to 235 trainers.
  • Build the website (covered above).
  • Search engine optimization (see below).
  • Social media posts.

LinkedIn campaigns have proved to be a winner for lead generation. The messaging and the opt-in gift have been super important. $390 spent on advertising gained 12,879 impressions and 85 landing page opt-ins, with an average click-through rate of 0.66% and an acquisition cost per lead of $4.59.

Hike SEO has helped with the SEO journey, and I have used this platform for keyword research, competitor analysis, and creating a keyword site map. The SEO focus has been on keywords for courses in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia (see Google Analytics results below).

just-ninety

One area I am especially proud of is landing the first page of Google results for one of my courses in about 2.5 weeks (see screenshot below).

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The main point I would stress for other founders is, to test and measure all lead generation activities so that you can continue to refine your messaging and enhance the results.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

My start-up costs were $17,160 in total, and I made $4,500 in revenue in the first 30 days, so that is a promising start. I am hoping by the 3-month mark, I will be trading at a profit.

Based on similar businesses, I am expecting a gross profit of about 80%.

To date, the customer acquisition costs are $390 in total. This spend has generated 85 leads, with a cost per lead of $4.59.

The average sale to date is $1,500 per transaction, and most of the sales have come through the online store.

Monthly traffic currently is 690 users per month, and I am hoping to grow this substantially through SEO. I am also investigating Google AdWords campaigns.

The average engagement time on the website is 49 seconds, and I think there is more room for improvement.

Email open rates range between 70% and 88%, which indicates an engaged audience.

Plans for the future, include:

  • Expanding the number of courses in the trainer library.
  • Establishing the trainer community, to help trainers market and sell the courses.
  • Targeting different audience groups such as learning and development managers who oversee organizational learning and development and internal training.
  • Increasing market penetration in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia.
  • Targeting new geographic regions, English speaking initially. I am considering converting the course materials into other languages as well.
  • Building an affiliate program for individuals or groups that have access to a network of professional trainers. This may include partnerships with trainers or groups in non-English speaking countries.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

A force that was outside of my control was COVID. However, it provided an incredible opportunity to develop and test live virtual training courses with clients. This, coupled with my health scare, provided the motivation and platform for launching Just Ninety.

The good decisions include the engagement of B2B School, Hike SEO, and having the courage to step out into the unknown world of a product-based business. All my previous businesses were service-focused, so I am in unfamiliar waters.

I have had to learn SEO to a new level. In previous businesses, this was outsourced to experts. Doing it yourself has been an interesting, fun, and, at times, challenging learning curve, especially when it comes to some of the more technical aspects of SEO.

One disappointment was the business partnership separation at the point of launch. Whilst my previous business partner is incredibly talented and passionate about the same things, we did not share the same vision for the new venture. This lack of alignment was a pressure point and created frustration, for us both.

This experience highlighted to me the importance of due diligence upfront, and ongoing conversations to ensure accountability and alignment. This would be a key learning to pay forward to other entrepreneurs.

A challenge has been funding to accelerate the launch and growth of the business. However, I am investigating crowdfunding to address this challenge.

I have excellent experience in the education and training sector and possess other useful qualities such as discipline, focus, tenacity, openness to learning, and adaptability. And right now, I am seeking a mentor to help guide the way with this product business.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Some of my favorite tools for business include…

LinkedIn for networking, campaigns and lead generation, and social media posting. (I am happy to connect with anyone, just drop me a line about this article to connect).

B2B Dash for lead capture, booking meetings, lead nurturing, and analytics.

Thinkific for website and course hosting, marketing, affiliate programs, and payment.

Hike SEO for keyword research, competitor analysis, creating a keyword site map, backlink ideas, content generation, and analytics (e.g., traffic and keyword results).

Hotjar for website heat maps and feedback.

ChatGPT for content creation.

Google workspace for email, calendar, drive, and docs.

Google Business Profile for business reviews.

Xero for accounting and bookkeeping.

Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I have read so many good business books over the years. Two that stand out recently are: Essentialism by Greg McKeown and The 4-hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.

Essentialism changed my mindset from aiming to get more done in less time (the old way) to getting less done and only focusing on the right things. It helped me to make better choices around channeling my time, energy, and effort toward making the highest possible contribution toward the goals and activities that matter most.

The 4-hour Workweek reminded me of the value of systemization and out-sourcing in business and taught me the importance of living life and having adventures now (rather than deferring these for a later time). Anyone that has read the book will understand the concept of a mini-retirement, an extended period away from work for several months. And I am planning to live this out when I walk The Camino in Spain later this year.

I have just started reading Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson and I am loving it.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

You have to back yourself and step out with courage, it is the only way to know if you will succeed or not. This has been a key factor for me in starting three businesses. As discussed above, COVID was outside of my control, yet it provided a testing ground for live virtual training courses and an opportunity to step out with courage and launch Just Ninety.

You will experience hard times and situations, so don’t panic, instead focus on how you can learn and grow through whatever you are facing. This mindset has always helped me.

Stay hungry and passionate! Passion provides day-to-day motivation and helps “find a way through” when faced with difficult circumstances. Passion helps generate a steady stream of ideas and makes running a start-up fun.

Surround yourself with the right support, including family, friends, and business colleagues. I am constantly humbled to learn how much people care. Don’t do it alone, it is always better doing business and life with others. But be wary of people that are self-oriented, unreliable, or draining of your time and energy, this is a path to frustration!

Test, measure, and iterate everything you do. And you will keep improving and being awesome!

Look after yourself, our time is short, so choose to spend it wisely. I work for those I love – my family, and I choose to spend time with those I love. Creating great memories and experiences together is important, as your kids grow up fast!

Enjoy the wonderful experience that entrepreneurship provides. It is the intersection of passion, challenge, and growth! I seriously couldn’t go back to being an employee!

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I am not looking to hire anyone right now. However, going forward, I am keen to hire an agency to help with digital marketing to grow website traffic and sales. Then I would love to hire course creators to continue to build the course library for trainers. I am open to affiliate marketing with anyone who has a database of trainers.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!