Creating truly transformative learning experiences for your students requires a lot of intentional behind-the-scenes work. Circle experts Jordan Godbey and Tom Ross have been there, and done it. In this AMA session, they share their tried-and-tested strategies for creating and launching successful community-powered courses.This masterclass is a must-watch for anyone looking to leverage the power of community to transform their course experience.
Jordan is the founder of , a consulting agency that helps coaches, course creators and experts create engaging learning communities on Circle. Having built an online course from $0 to over $1M/yr in revenue and coached dozens of creators to do the same, Jordan is an expert in how to create new revenue streams using the power of community. Jordan also created the course , which provides templates and best practices for setting up your community fast.
In the current landscape of online education, where information is abundant, creators have an opportunity to stand out by building a community-powered course. Unlike top-down, video-based courses, they provide personalized guidance, expert interaction, and peer collaboration.
As Jordany Godbey puts it: “Traditional courses focused solely on information delivery are becoming less valuable due to the abundance of free content available online. Community-powered courses, on the other hand, provide a supportive environment leading to higher completion rates and increased success for students.” He further notes that these courses allow creators to provide more value and charge higher prices compared to traditional courses.
When it comes to engaging students in your course, Tom Ross highlights the importance of making the course content enjoyable and engaging. He also emphasizes the effectiveness of one-on-one interaction with students through direct messaging, which provides personalized support and motivation.
Jordan recommends a thorough onboarding experience to ensure students understand the program’s workings and expectations. He suggests breaking down onboarding steps into small tasks and using short videos as guides. A well-designed onboarding process offers clear guidance on how the program operates, reducing potential confusion and frustration among students. It also fosters increased engagement and motivation by ensuring students feel supported and understood.
Additionally, personalized support during onboarding can cater to specific needs, enhancing student satisfaction and learning outcomes. Ultimately, a great onboarding experience can lead to improved retention and completion rates, making it a crucial aspect of course design.
If you’re wondering how to avoid overwhelm when creating your course curriculum, follow Tom and Jordan’s top tips:
Watch the full session to gain insights into creating engaging course content, motivating students, effective onboarding techniques, and time-saving tips for course creation.
Emma Catranis: Thank you everyone for joining today’s AMA session. This is a new format for us. We haven’t done an event like this before, so I’m really excited to dive into this. I thought it would be a great chance to delve deeper into community powered courses, which is our theme for the month. There would be no one better for you to learn from than Jordan and Tom. They are two of our Circle experts. I learn so much from them daily and I’m thrilled for you to have this opportunity to learn from them as well and ask any questions you might have about community powered courses.
With that, I will pass it over to them to introduce themselves. Both of them have recently launched community powered courses. So, Jordan and Tom, could you briefly touch on what your course is that you launched?
Jordan Godbey: Sure, I’ll give you the quick background on me and then on my course. Hey, everybody. My name is Jordan Godbey. I’ve been an entrepreneur for the past 15 years and started out in digital marketing. I ran a digital marketing agency, working with all different types of business owners in every different puzzle piece of the digital marketing equation. After doing that for a long time, I realized I wanted to change my business model and focus.
So I dove deep into the online courses space for about 3 or 4 years going in house with a very niche medical company, where we built radiology courses. This was almost 5 years ago, and community was just starting to become a thing in the online courses space. We didn’t have all the great tools and platforms that we have today, like Circle. But I could see how powerful it was. We grew that to multiple millions of dollars in revenue, even though it was a very small niche topic and audience. There are only about a hundred thousand MRI radiologists in the whole world.
So after doing that for a while, I decided to go all in on the future of online education, the future of online courses, which means community. I repositioned everything in my life and my business to focus exclusively on Circle and carve out this niche around online training, online education, and online courses space. Over the last 2 and a half years, I’ve been helping people build communities on Circle, working with them one-on-one. Recently, I’ve taken all of that knowledge from launching about 40 communities and put it into my own course called “Build a Community Powered Course.” Now you can go through my program, learn the things I teach, get help through the community, calls, videos, and work on launching and building your own online community powered course as well.
Emma Catranis: That’s great, thank you, Jordan. As you can tell, Jordan’s course is how to build a community powered course and it is a community powered course. There’s so much to learn from him. I’m excited to have him here today. Now I will pass it over to Tom. Tom, do you want to introduce yourself?
Tom Ross: Thanks, Emma. First of all, hey, everyone. Thank you for joining. My name’s Tom, and I’ve lived and breathed community for a very long time. I started building online communities when I was about 15, so about 20 odd years ago. Initially, it was for fun, then I began building brands around them. My startup, Design Cuts, is a community-led business, and I’ve been running that for 10 years. Community is at the heart of everything we do there. We do giant community events with 2000 people and it’s a ton of fun. I’m so passionate about community that, alongside that, in my limited spare time, I started geeking out about community and just trying to share everything I know. So I wrote a free book about community, started sharing content, within Circle and then became one of the Circle experts. I love working with that team. I consult on community and I run a community called Learn Dot Community, which is all about community building. We work with about 200 community builders in there.
I will be very honest and say that I don’t consider myself to be a course expert. I’m very much in the weeds. I do not have the incredible experience that Jordan has, and Jordan’s actually one of the people I’ve learned a lot from. But what I am good at is executing. So I’ve launched my course, figured out a lot of stuff, and learned from many people including Jordan. Hopefully that’s going to be relatable for everyone on the call who might be a little earlier like me because I can share what is working and what isn’t.
I teach a lot of stuff about the supportive community strategy that hopefully I can weave in today to help people.
Emma Catranis: That’s great. Thank you, Tom. One thing I’m really excited for you to be able to share with the group today is really the community aspect, how do you bake community really fundamentally into the foundation of your course.
So let’s get into it. I have a couple of questions for the two of you to kind of just set the scene and help us dive into this topic, learn a little bit more about what community powered courses are, why they matter, and how both of you are approaching them.
Jordan, my first question is for you. If I’m creating a course, why should I care about even making it community powered? What is the benefit of building community directly into the course experience?
Jordan Godbey: Absolutely. Great question. And I’m really glad that Tom is here as well. Thank you so much, Tom, for those kind words. You have so much more experience on the community side of things, and this is such a new field that really we can go so deep in all of these areas and even in things like curriculum design and community engagement.
So why should we make courses community powered? Courses have been around since the beginning of the internet, even pre-internet, you could buy DVD sets. But previously, courses were all focused on the information. They would say, you know, you get 6 hours of content, 87 lessons and just all of that trying to put all the value in how much information there was because at the early stages of the internet, it was hard to access a lot of really good information.
Now we’ve got YouTube, Google, tons of free content and free information. So if all you’re doing is selling your videos next to the infinite amount of the internet content, it’s hard to put a high value on that these days. Pricing of online courses I have seen has just continued to decrease over time.
There’s a lot of these huge marketplaces out there like Linda.com, Skillshare, Udemy. You can type in any kind of keywords and there’s probably going to be dozens and dozens of courses. I’ve seen a lot of them go for 10 dollars. So imagine spending months and months pouring your heart and soul into something that you can sell for 10 dollars.
The other problem is that old school courses, as I call them, just video, just a list of videos inside an LMS, a learning management system, they have a very, very low completion rate and an even lower success rate. You have to watch all the videos but then you have to implement what you learned. You can’t just watch them all and go, great. I finished the course. You actually need to do all of the things that you just learned. These old school courses, they don’t provide an environment that is supportive of that implementation process. Because as soon as you start to go and execute, you’re gonna face challenges. You’re gonna face roadblocks. You’re gonna face questions or confusion of Oh, in the video, it sounded so easy. I just needed to put up my website. And then when I go to put up my website, I don’t know what to do. And now I have 50 questions how do I get help and who’s gonna give me feedback? And now I have to go Google all these things, and I’m all alone by myself.
Right? So the environment, there there’s been a lot of research around the environment that you’re in will affect your productivity, your success. You know, we’ve all heard you’re more similar to the 5 people that you spend time with and hang around with. So if you are inside of a community, you’re going to be able to be so much more successful because you’re going to be supported you’re gonna be able to ask questions and get answers. You’re gonna be able to directly access the expert who created the course.
Whereas in the old school model, one of the reasons why people created courses, I believe it’s not the only reason that everyone feels way is because they don’t want to actually interact with you. They don’t want to do 1 on 1 calls. They don’t want to support you. They don’t wanna answer emails and questions. Their the whole philosophy is just watch the videos. You know, the videos will tell you what to do, and then you just go do it. But the reality is it’s just very hard to be successful. Very few people are successful in those types of programs. It requires a lot of discipline, a lot of personal drive and motivation. And it’s just really all on you. So it’s a tough environment.
So that’s why I really value and believe in this movement around community powered courses. Your students are going to be so much more successful they’re going to be more supported from you directly, but in a way that’s scalable and leverage where you’re actually even if you’re answering answering 1 person’s question, many other people have the exact same questions. You’re actually answering a lot of people’s questions, maybe before they even posed the question.
And then from that pricing that we were talking about in the beginning, you’re gonna be able to charge a lot more money because you are actually providing a lot more value Right? So you’re giving the information. You’re giving the support. You’re giving the coaching. You’re giving the access to the community where they can access other people who are going through that same journey and that same experience, which is also very valuable to create friendships, partnerships, relationships, accountability, buddies, all of that kind of stuff.
So in the end, I just believe that it’s the best thing for the student experience, as well as the best thing for you as the business owner, the entrepreneur, and the expert.
Emma Catranis: Thank you for that amazing answer, Jordan. I feel like you really perfectly articulated the value of community powered courses. And if anyone here was not sold on community powered courses prior to that, I would imagine that you are now, so thank you for that, Jordan.
My next question is for you, Tom, you know, laddering up into what we’re talking about here with with the value of community powered courses. What are your top strategies for incentivizing students to keep making progress through a community powered course. So how do you really keep motivating and engaging students in that setting?
Tom Ross: Great question. I don’t want to give too many tactics here, so I want to focus on a couple that I believe really work. The first one is just to make the course really engaging itself. Right? Because otherwise, no amount of supportive tactics is going to ensure that people keep going through. So how do you do that?
It’s like, well, you try and make it fun. You try and make it something that people actually enjoy going through. Because if it’s very dry material, you’re going to see the retention fall off just like you would in a YouTube video or something like that. So I try and weave that energy into the lessons and really think about my teaching style.
I also try and tee up the next lesson. So we’re kind of rolling out our modules sequentially, and it’s always like, here’s what’s coming soon. Any, like, build that excitement, and then have a little mini launch each time you roll out the next lesson on module, you can announce that and so on.
So those are a few things on the course level, but on the member level, most people on this call, I’m guessing probably are running communities that are on the small to medium size, and I include myself in that. You know, we’re generally not dealing with tens of thousands of members. And so with a relatively manageable number of people probably taking your course, lean into one on one interaction. Because nothing else works as effectively as that.
So you can make all the posts you want and shout about it in the forum, but if you directly DM someone, and you should have stats in Circle that show who’s working through your course, who’s completing every lesson, who’s kind of stalling, reach out and be like, “How’s the course going? Like, any sticking points? Do you need some help kind of working your way through to the next lesson?” And that direct personal hand holding works like nothing else. So that’s something that I’m really leaning into right now.
Emma Catranis: I love that. I think that’s a great strategy. Alright. My next question is for you, Jordan. So this is something that I am actually wondering about myself. I am gearing up to launch a boot camp on Monday, and I’m realizing that there can be so many moving parts for students to keep track of when they join a community powered course – from live events to weekly assignments to discussion spaces, and tons more, there’s so much to keep track of.
So how do you effectively onboard students to the course and really set them up for success from the beginning?
Jordan Godbey: Yeah. Good question. So this is something that we have thought a lot about and put a lot of effort into – creating a really thorough onboarding experience. And something I realized is it can become an afterthought for some people. Or as the creator, we have the curse of knowledge where we think, “oh, this is so simple. This is so easy. It’s so well organized, and everyone just gets it because there’s a space called live events. So that’s where all the live events are. Right?”
But when someone’s coming in for the first time and maybe you’ve got 10 spaces, which is not crazy by any stretch, they’re just like, “where do I go first? What am I supposed to click on? What am I supposed to do?” And they’re just dropped into the deep end. That, and that’s the way that a lot of communities are or start out, until they get the feedback, either directly from students or through analytics and things that people aren’t diving in right away. They’re not engaging. They’re actually there’s friction there. There’s confusion there. There’s frustration there.
So then they realize, “oh, we need to do something better here with our onboarding experience.” So one of the things that I do is I create a “start here” space where we’ve got a list of onboarding steps. And those steps really cover two main purposes. One is to explain how the program works. And I like to use the word program a lot of times instead of a course because a lot of times course just means a series of videos in a linear order. Right? But the program is a bigger, broader, more holistic entity, which wraps in all of those things like the community, the different discussion spaces, ways to get interaction and feedback on the work that you’re doing the live events, the coaching, as well as the course and the videos.
Jordan Godbey: So the onboarding experience should really explain how the entire program works So 1 step at a time, talking about how the live events work, how, you know, when they’re scheduled, how do you get to them, all of that kind of stuff. As well as how circle and how the community works. So I do a series of loom videos typically. So we’ll do like a community tour. We’ll actually walk through, and these can be very short, very low production. You don’t even have to be on camera for these, but just do, like, a quick screen share. I usually recommend 1 to 3 minutes.
And the the thing that we’ve learned is that people will either be way too succinct Like, they’ll have a start here space with 1 post that just says, hey, welcome. Dive in and start engaging. It’s like, that didn’t really tell me anything. Or they will try to include everything, and it’s just this giant post, this giant wall of text. Maybe it’s split up by some headers, but you look at it, and I think psychologically, we just switch off because it’s too much. It it’s asking for too much effort and energy straight away to read some giant thing.
That’s why we’ve broken ours down into the small little tiny individual steps. So you can see what the steps are. You click on the first 1. There’s a short little 1 minute video that might explain For example, 1 of our steps is to introduce yourself. That’s a common 1. Another 1 is to set your notification preferences. And so we’re just focusing on 1 little tiny thing that going to make their user experience really, really good and setting expectations.
And at the bottom, we’ve got a little link to go to the next step. So we just try to spoon feed them and make it as easy as possible to digest the information so that at the end of the 10 steps, we’ve given them the full onboarding experience where gonna be very clear on how everything works. They’re gonna understand the expectations of the program, and they’re gonna be excited and energized and ready to dive in and move forward.
So the very last step is that we transition them into the thing that we want them to do next, whether that’s sign up for the weekly, coaching call that’s gonna happen every Wednesday, or just to start watching the first video of the course. So that’s kind of the on ramp that we do to make sure that our students are, knowledgeable, clear, and excited I love the idea of building these steps on top of 1 another, not growing everything and everyone all at once. I’m taking notes for my own purposes here, Jordan. So thank you for that.
Emma Catranis: Alright. My next question and the last of my questions is for you, Tom. So it comes to mapping out and creating the actual course content itself, what is 1 tip that you would give to new course creators looking to save time and avoid overwhelm.
Tom Ross: Yeah. I love this question, because I felt the overwhelm. Big time, bit of context, I run my company design cuts full time, and the CEO there, that is a very full time job. I then run learn community and all my personal brand stuff around community in evenings and weekends, and I’m a new dad. So it got a 10 month daughter, and she takes up a lot of time as well, which gives me very close to 0 remaining available time.
So I knew I wanted to make a course, but every time I started planning it and thinking about it, I was like, There is just no way. I’m not gonna have time to fit this in. I have practically 0 hours to play with, but I found a way. It was also overwhelming because I hadn’t really done a course like this before, so I didn’t know what I was doing. So as much as I tried listening to awesome people like Jordan and others, it was still a scary prospect. So what I did was I started by creating a spreadsheet. And I mapped out all of the lessons that I wanted in the course and all the different sections and modules and that kind of thing. So it was like just empty my head and get it into a spreadsheet. That was step 1. Then I got feedback from our members, so I said, here’s the structure I’m looking at. What do you think? And they gave some great feedback, so we actually included and added some additional lessons based on their ideas.
So I’m like, cool, I’ve got the outline. I know what lessons I’m doing. I know what modules. Good. That’s step 1. The next step was, I realized that it would be way easier if I had slides to guide me. Because if I just had to talk off the top of my head, that would be really, really difficult to you know, remember all of this information. So I set up a keynote slide template, and thank you so much for sharing mathilde. I basically broke this down in a recent post. So I set up a keynote, template. And within that, to save time, I set up, like, a bunch of different slides, like a title slide, bullet point slide, like image on the right kind of slide, all these different templates that I could work with, which meant that I could then drop that template into a organized folder. So I set up a folder that had each of my modules and each of the lessons within that as keynote templates, and each keynote template had all of these templated slides ready to go.
And that was step 2. So it was like cool. I took it from a spreadsheet to an organized folder of keynotes. Then I was like, okay, I gotta fill the content in. So I could jump in, and I could very quickly copy these template slides and be like add the title like, add the bullet points and just pour my brain into this because a lot of this was stuff I already teach where I’ve talked about, so I could just populate these slides.
So step 3 is like cool. I got my slides. And then step 4 was, I knew if I had to commit to like 12 modules. I think my course is and gonna be like 50 plus lessons. There’s no way I would get that done. So I was like, the only way I’m gonna do this is if I roll it out 1 module at a time, and if I commit to launching it publicly. So I did a big announcement. I was like, I’m finally launching my course, everyone. We got a record number of sign ups in the community, everyone’s there expecting the course, and I’m like, oh, crap. I need to make this thing. I’m on the hook now. So I jumped in, and I I, you know, I went through it all and I figured it out, and I filmed module 1, and that was it. But now we had a bunch of members there, and they’re expecting module 2 the very next week. So I’m like, cool. I very honestly, I just started pulling late shifts. I was super tired. Like, I got 0 downtime. I I wasn’t really watching Netflix and doing all the stuff I do in the evening, I was working until I went to bed because I’m like, I can’t let these new members down. I I I need to find a window. I need to find some time when our baby is asleep and get this done. So that’s exactly what I’m doing.
And that is my honest share. To be honest. So, I don’t know if some of you can relate, but essentially my advice would be plan it out and structure it, don’t just jump into production. Use templates and things like that to save a bunch of time. And then have some kind of public accountability if you’re struggling to actually get the motivation to make this thing, put yourself on the hook, and that can actually be pretty positive thing because, you know, you’re you’re not gonna wanna let members down.
Emma Catranis: I love that. And I think, you know, so far we’ve talked about community powered in terms of the value it brings to your members, to your community, but I think There’s also a lot of benefits to community as you, the community builder. So in Tom’s case, really using it as a forcing function, using it as a way to stay accountable, rolling it out week by week and then, you know, using that as a function too. Okay. I really have an incentive to do this thing. I have accountability built in. And I’m really able to hear from my members about what’s resonating and what’s not as they’re moving through.
Jordan Godbey: So I’m sure Tom, in your case, you’re able to build the questions they were having and things like that into later lessons. Exactly. And sorry, Emma, if I may, 1 bonus tip I forgot to mention. I started using Tella, so it’s t e l l a. It’s a really handy software that basically lets you have your face to the side and then your slides or your screen share, adjacent to that.And that was a real game changer because if I had to, like, jump on and just do a perfect take and loads of editing, again, I wouldn’t have had time. So believe it or not, every single lesson in my course I did in 1 take. And the editing was as minimal as I would deliver it in 1 take, and then I would just cut the pause at the start and the pause at the end of, and that would be it.
Because I had my slides to support me, I could jump on and be like, welcome to lesson 1. We’re gonna teach community culture. And then I go through my slides just like I would on a live workshop like this, and then I’d hit stop. And so editing takes me 10 seconds per lesson. Recording takes me 10 minutes per lesson just as long as it takes to teach the material, and that’s it. So if you’re worried about, like, oh, no. It’s gonna take me 5 hours to film a 5 minute lesson. It doesn’t have to. Use slides, use software like teller. Don’t be a perfectionist. And just get it out there.
Emma Catranis: I will also plus 1 on Tella. We use Tella for a course we just created with our friends at SPI. And I’m a big fan. I think it works better than Bloom than anything we’ve used in the past. So definitely recommend Tella for the course creators out there.
Jordan Godbey: Can I piggyback on this? Yeah. Go for it. Okay.
Jordan Godbey: So, Tom, I loved your explanation of your process. I thought it was very clear, very simple, very succinct. And it’s funny because I did the exact same thing that you did. So that makes me feel better. Yeah. The way that you laid it out, I just kept nodding. I’m like, yep. That was step 1. That was step 2, everything. But you were a bit wiser, and smarter than I was with releasing it module by module, so smart. Because I got a choice. I got totally overwhelmed. And I released I I did as much as I could do in in 1 big go. And I think I got about 70 percent of the way there, and I just was exhausted after that. I was just almost burned out with it. And it was so hard for me to finish. And I think maybe that’s an entrepreneur thing as well where it’s fun and exciting to start a new thing. And then as it just gets, you know, drags on and on and gets closer and closer to the end, that last 10, 20 percent can be so hard to finish. And that was my experience. But, yeah, the way that you laid that out is the right way to do it. I did the exact same thing almost every single step of the way. I used Google slides instead of, keynote but I did the tele thing. I I cut the editing. Yeah. Everything was 1 take.
Jordan Godbey: So, I think 1 of my mistakes that I found in some of my lessons was they started getting longer and longer. And I realized that I had started to include maybe multiple topics or subjects in an individual video. So I should have broken them down. So at the end, they started to become 20 or even 30 minute lessons, videos. And I didn’t Yeah. It’s too long. I didn’t like that, but the way that I had created it, yeah, I sort of was forced into it by my own design. So I’m going to continue to update and change things. I would probably break those into, like, 10 minute videos and maybe have 2 or 3 of them.
But, Yeah. The whole, like, launching it publicly getting on the hook for it that the commitment there is also helpful to actually finish. For sure. And then getting that feedback early on, I think, was really helpful. I started going down a path on my v 1 that I ended up scrapping and just throwing all of it away and restarting with a new structure and a new outline, which ultimately became the version of the course that’s out now in a much, much better product. But Yeah. It took longer than I wanted. It took me about 6 months to finally get it all done because of just a few of those different issues as well as just facing the resistance. And if you’ve read about, you know, the the war on art or the yeah. I think that’s what it is and and the resistance. It can be really hard just to, like, sit down and press that record button and do the thing.
Emma Catranis: You know, we can think about it for a really long time, and it sounds easy in our heads. And then when it’s time to finally do it, there’s just you gotta just hit that button and make it happen. But you know what? I’m so glad we’re talking about the mindset here. Because it’s beyond just tactics.
Tom Ross: Like, I can see in the comments you’re you’re gonna hit that resistance. You might burn out, like, I’ll I’ll be very honest, our baby’s been sick recently, which hasn’t been fun. My wife is now sick. And so after like making dinner and and trying to be there for the family, I’m gonna be up tonight creating freaking slides because otherwise I’m gonna fall out of schedule for the the module next week, and that’s the reality. It doesn’t just create itself. It, you know, it takes real work and and intention. And just while we’re riffing here, if I may, Emma, I’m sure. Yeah. Jordan Jordan mentioned the, the length. So I had this idea as I was doing it. I’m like, as well as this being a sequential kind of course experience, I actually want the lessons to operate and function like FAQs, and that can only really happen in shorter if it’s like 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes max. Because now, we’re gonna have dozens of lessons. And if someone’s like, how do I do this specific thing, I point them to 1 lesson, not the whole course, and they can jump in and watch like a 5 and a half minute long video and be like, cool. Gave me exactly what I needed. So it’s that kind of FAQ function.
Emma Catranis: Yeah. I love that. And I wanna thank you both for being so candid with this conversation. It’s really nice to not have you both up here being like everything’s great and creating a course is so easy. I think it’s really helpful for the group to hear what’s working for you, but also on the flip side of that, hear what’s maybe not working or what you would have done differently. So I’m really happy that we’re having this conversation.
Emma Catranis: Alright. We have 3 questions here that were submitted in advance that I’d like to get to, and then I will turn it over to the group that is here with us live so we can answer your questions. So our first question here is from Samir, and I think this relates to a question mathilde dropped in the chat earlier which was around, do you think that an onboarding course can be successful if it’s fully async. So Samir’s question kind of hits at that and his question is about hybrid courses. So he wants to create an onboarding course of sorts that would be the first thing that members experience when they land in the community. So he wants this to be a sync but he used to offer a live cohort to bring his members through this onboarding course until it became too much work to keep up with. So He wants to keep the best parts of the cohort experience while allowing members to join and move through this course At their own pace, so he’s asking for any ideas or best practices you might have around accomplishing this. I feel like this might be a a Jordan question or you’re better equipped to answer on it.
Jordan Godbey: Okay. Sure. So, yeah, this is really how I see most of my clients doing it right now is, like, I had described the onboarding experience that we build. It’s kind of like a course. We we haven’t actually put it into the courses feature. We’ve just done a post space, and we’ve done a list view, and we’ve done a little bit of editing to remove some metadata and things like that. So it it’s kind of almost the same thing as a course, and We have links to go to the next step in the in the process. So I think that that works well.
Then you can dive into the asynchronous lessons, which I consider just to be the foundation of the program. So the program is really designed around the transformation or the goal of why you’re joining this this community, this course. So you go through the onboarding, which gives you a kind of a 30000 foot overview of how everything works, then you can dive into the course so that you understand the terminology, the frameworks, the the mindset, and then you dive into the live aspects of the community. Jordan Godbey: So weekly q and a calls, intentional coaching calls, spaces where you are, asking questions, submitting work, getting feedback, all of that kind of live interaction. Most of the clients that I’m working with are running ongoing evergreen programs where anyone’s joining any day of the year and they can go through this flow and then immediately dive into the live action that’s happening on a regular basis. That’s how I see it working really well and in a very comfortable way for everybody.
Emma Catranis: I think that’s great. Thank you, Jordan. Our next question here is from Mathilde, and I think you’ve both kind of hit up this a little bit, so maybe if you have anything to add, feel free to jump in. Otherwise, we can move on to the next question, but this was what was the most challenging part of creating or launching your courses that you both recently launched and how did you approach solving that?
Tom Ross: Yeah, you’re right. We kind of touched on it, but, aside from just the enormous effort and the work involved and fitting that around a busy schedule, for me, it was also learning how to do this kind of thing. Like I mentioned, Jordan has way more experience than me. And so he kind of knew what he was doing. I’m guessing Jordan when you created your course, you could have a running start. Whereas before I even got started with my course, I was like, I need to even learn what community powered courses are. I need to, like, overcome some of my blockers, figure this out. So I went and actually educated myself.
Tom Ross: So I had chats with Jordan, who was very helpful and forthcoming. I chatted to some of our members who had done courses, chatted to Jay Clouse, like, a bunch of people, and just kind of pick their brain. And now that I’m in it and I’m doing it, it makes complete sense. And I’m like, yeah, of course, this is how it works. But when I first started hearing community powered course, it was almost like my brain just didn’t understand it. I was like, I kinda get it, but I feel like the pieces aren’t fitting together, or it just seemed like this kinda esoteric, like, confusing concept to me. And I’m really not sure why.
Tom Ross: I think I was overthinking it and overcomplicating it perhaps. And then when I jumped in and started doing it, I’m oh, okay. This is fine. And so it was that initial number, like, just jump in and do it and stop, like, thinking it’s the most complex thing in the world because it really doesn’t have to be.
Yeah. I would say also the challenging part is just getting started. It’s and that’s always, I think, the hard part. It could either feel very complicated, like Tom said, or it can feel very simple and very easy where you’re underestimating it. And for me, I also have a very busy schedule, young child, lots of consulting clients. So there’s a lot of urgency going on in my life.
And this project is never going to be urgent. You can create some urgency around it when you do your public commitment and you get people signed up and you do a presale and you take people’s money. Now there’s some pressure, now there’s some urgency. But it’s important, typically, that you wanna do this type of thing, but it’s not like the important and urgent client call that I have in 20 minutes from now that they’re gonna be sitting there waiting for me.
Typically, when you’re starting out and you’re doing this, it’s all on you. It’s your own internal desire and motivation. And so there are some fears around just doing something new. And so just I had to learn how to block out time on my calendar just for me just to do this and not allow anything else to take that time and take that space. And that even became challenging because lots of things pop up. And you’re like, oh, well, okay. I could, like, reduce the amount of time that I’ve given myself to do this course because I need to talk to this client or take this sales call or do whatever it is.
Tom Ross: I recorded some lessons. They were beautiful, amazing lessons. You know, they were a bit long. Like I had mentioned 20 minutes long. And at the end, I go to watch it and it’s just blank screen or it didn’t record. And I’m like Oh, no. So that’s very demotivating. And I’m like, I’m done for today. I can’t do this right now. Yeah. So those kinds of things.
Tom Ross: I think we’re as, we’re only as good as, like, our word, right, and our recommendation. So, I I should be honest about my experience with Tella. I had a few teething issues as well. But Grant, who I think is their founder, is unbelievable. Agree. So any issue, like, it’s basically, it’s not perfect in my experience. But as soon as I had an issue and reached out to Grant, he, like, personally would help and rectifier and give me, the most polished results. So I wouldn’t use anything else. I would go in with the expectation. There may be a a few snagging edge issues, but you will get incredible support.
Jordan Godbey: I had the same support or the same experience from Grant as well. So it’s a young product, but it’s beautiful product. And I think eventually it’s all gonna be perfectly smooth and polished out, but I still think it’s worth using if if if you are drawn to to how it looks and feels. It’s great. Totally.
Tom Ross: Yeah. Is it is it worth super quickly touching on, perfectionism? If we have time because, I don’t know if that was maybe a blocker for us, but I feel like for a lot of people on this call, they might get into the the cycle of filming, and they’re like, oh, no. I sound stupid. Like, oh, that isn’t polished enough and and get in their own head.
Emma Catranis: Because Yeah. Let’s, maybe bookmark that for the end. I wanna make sure because we do have 1 more question that was pre submitted, and I wanna make sure we get to questions from the folks who are here live. Apologies. I would like to talk about that too, Tom. I think that’s a great question, though. I’d like to talk about that as well later.
Emma Catranis: For sure, and I will say we, mathilde shared in the chat, we have a great resource called the course launch confidence, playbook, which basically contains a lot of video, pep talks, from, different course creators that we work with. Jordan has a video in the work in the playbook And so if mindset feels like a big thing for you when it comes to community powered courses, definitely go check that out. I think it would be really helpful.
Alright. Our last pre submitted question here is from Marissa, and she’s asking, can you share insights around designing a curriculum that supports students on different journeys or paths. So for context, you know, community power courses allow us to support students Through bigger transformational journeys than old style courses, but Marissa often gets asked by her students what if my path isn’t linear?
So I guess just hitting at, you know, through a community powered course, how are you supporting different outcomes for different students and students who or on totally different journeys than 1 another.
Tom Ross: In a word, modules, So it’s kind of what I alluded to with having this FAQ model in mind. But I’m very aware that because our course is, how to build a thriving online community, and our members are at different stages. So some of them have an active community, so they probably don’t need the modules that are prelaunch in how to get their community ready for launch. And so when I built the course, I split it into 12 modules, which means that you can jump in at whatever stage you need. And you don’t even have to work through it in order. It might be that you’re like, oh, I need help with engagement. I’m going to jump into module 9, the engagement module. And figure that out. And it doesn’t matter if you didn’t do modules 1 to 8. They can kind of stand independently. Yeah. That’s been my approach.
Jordan Godbey: Yeah. I’ve got another example. A client of mine, she’s a business coach. And so she’s focusing on the home improvement niche, but it really doesn’t matter. Just kind of a small business niche, and these people have all different types of problems. So it’s not a super clear linear course where, you know, you’re gonna go from having 0 business to launching a business. It’s you’re already a business, but you have different issues.
So she calls it HomePro toolbox And the idea is that the lessons are different tools. And so whatever your problem is, you can just dive into that one specific tool. So similar to, like, the FAQ example from Tom, but it’s divided into different spaces. So there’s one on sales, marketing, leadership, hiring, managing finance, operations, that kind of thing.
So you’re not meant to sit there and watch all of the videos in order. But whatever your problem is, like, your employee just quit, now you have an urgent issue. You need to write a job description and publish it and then, you know, get job applications and interview those people and give them an offer and hire them and onboard them.
Emma Catranis: Yeah. I think that’s great. And, Marissa, I see your question in the chat here. My quick 2 cents is that I don’t think your course has to, you know, teach every single thing to every single student and what they specifically want to learn. I think that’s the real beauty of it being community powered if they have additional questions or additional things that they’re struggling with.
Emma Catranis: They have an avenue to reach you and to reach other students in the course to get support on those topics. So that would be my quick 2 cents on that. And just on the back of, Emma’s great advice there, I think set that expectation right. So you can have that in your course intro. You can reiterate that throughout where it’s like you don’t have to implement every single thing from this course.
Tom Ross: You can pick and choose, you can jump in and out as you see fit and give your students that kind of, cultural flexibility. I guess, because if they jump in thinking is this very rigid and linear and I’m doing something wrong, if I depart from that, it may damage their experience.
Emma Catranis: Yeah. I think that’s great. Alright. I realize we are coming up quickly on time here I wanna make sure that we’re able to get to your questions. So if you have a question that you would like to ask either Jordan or Tom, Please feel free to raise your Zoom hand and I will just call on you in the order that I see your hands go up and you can ask them your question. I was trying to wonder if zoom hand meant right or left there, but you mean, like, the little icon Oh, yeah. Looks like this one’s my zoom hand. Your left hand is actually your zoom hand.
Does anyone have a question or even if it’s not a specific question, maybe you have a use case that you want to share something that you’re thinking through for your own course that you’d like feedback on, or happy to talk to that as well.
Tom Ross: This is the moment where we say, don’t be shy, in my community. I often start, like, picking people out where I’m like, you smiled. What’s your question? But like, yeah, seriously Jordan and I were here to serve you guys, so don’t worry if it’s not a perfectly formulated question. It could just be sharing like what here’s where I’m at right now and then we can unpack that. And and get the ball rolling for you. We’d love to help.
Emma Catranis: Perfect. Mathilde, thank you for wanna be our guinea pig and go first? Yeah. For sure. Thank you both amazing advice as usual. My question is actually the same as Nisha’s question.
Mathilde: Do you both have any experience in teaching your course live? And in particular, I’d love to hear a bit about your experience as well doing kick off sessions or anything that you do to, like, set the scene for for course or anything that you’ve seen your appliance, do Jordan or Tommy courses that you’re part of that you you think, you know, you’d love to model in your own.
Emma Catranis: Do you wanna go first? You wanna take this? Oh, yeah. Yeah. 3 questions 3 questions didn’t want. I’m sorry. Okay. So teaching the course live, I think was the first 1.
Tom Ross: Yes, I do this. So in true community powered fashion, we have, 2 workshops every week. We’ve got, like, office hours, similar to Circle, and then we have a Thursday session, which is specifically covering whatever the course module that rolled out that week is. And At first, I was basically just teaching the course module, going through all the slides, and the members gave the great feedback of, like, Well, I might as well just watch the course if you’re just gonna talk at us for an hour. They said it quieter than that, but that was like the consensus.
And I was like, Oh, you’re so right. I haven’t done this before, like, I’m sorry. So I pivoted my approach and I made it the most interactive thing possible. So, I would go through some of the slides and teach a bit, but I would constantly stop and, like, check-in with people and be like, let’s answer this together, and people would unmute, they’d type in the chat, and my favorite thing about live or 2 favorite things are, you can map it to their specific use cases. Which you can’t do if they’re just watching a video, and you can make it fun.
Tom Ross: So just to lean into those for a second. I could teach a course on, we just did a module on like creating your community brand. K? And I could teach all the principles and the tactics to do that. But on a live call, I could be like Marissa, your smile or son can pick you out. I could be like Marissa, like, what do you think your community brand is? How far have you got with that? And you can tell me, I’ll be like, cool. Let’s work through that. What does everyone think?
Tom Ross: Is Marissa’s brand, like, makes sense to you or not, we can literally work through it live and apply it. So it’s not just me talking at you. It’s like, you working almost like you’re in a consultation or something like that, but in a group setting, which is great. And then also, like I say, making it fun. Like, I really enjoy the live format. Like the energy of it.
And I keep doing these live workshops and thinking, man, I had so much more fun teaching this live and interacting with people and feeding off them. Think because I’m an extrovert, you know, I enjoy this kind of thing. So, like, that’s really, rejuvenating for me compared to me set up talking to a camera, like, that’s still cool to make a course, but, like, the magic of live is like nothing else.
Tom Ross: I feel like you can actually get way more value from the live than you can from just the course videos. And the members seem to enjoy it way way more as well. I’m going to pass to Jordan because I’m kind of hogging the mic and I can’t remember them, Mattel’s other 2 questions. I’m gonna look in the chat.
Jordan Godbey: Yeah. No. All good. Yeah, I did not teach mine live, but You definitely can. And I think if you’re not as sure about your curriculum, it’s great to start by doing it live and to having more of that interaction, like Tom was saying, And it can really help you to hone in on your blind spots and getting immediate feedback on, is this clear, is this confusing?
Am I covering you know, because you’re immediately gonna get questions. And so then you realize, oh, yeah. That was a really important thing that I just glossed over or didn’t even mention because I thought everyone understood it, but sounds like actually a key thing that needs to be in this module.
So getting a lot of really quick, iterations and practice and feedback is super important. And then once you feel like you’ve got this lesson nailed down and it’s really rock solid bulletproof holistic, then I think it’s a great time to move it to recording it and doing the final production.
Emma Catranis: And and you’re you know that it’s gonna be it’s gonna hit the target for everyone. Totally. Does anyone else have a question? Feel free to drop it in the chat or raise your Zoom hand and you can come mute and ask live. I loaded at your comment, by the way, about what’s your zoo hat and your smile? Your smile.
Gurus: Yeah. Hi. Can you hear me okay? Well, there’s so much good stuff that’s been talked about. I could ask a question about anything, but, just wanna be annoying and go back to curriculum design because it’s something that I’ve just been going back and forth on. I’ve started helping other people, shape their curriculums. I’m just gonna go with that. And it’s they’re really easy when they’re sort of like the old type of course, but when they’re more like the community-based courses, it’s much more like you’re dreading a community and there’s this much bigger transformation we can give people, and I like what you’re saying about, like, the self-service, just break it down into the pieces, have a toolbox.
But when the transformation like, I have I have 1 client who has this massive, like, year long maybe plus thing that she’s teaching that, you know, it does a similar thing. Like, teaching people how to run a certain type of business. Right? And there are some things that you shouldn’t really do before others. And there are some things where you might wanna teach like a tiny version of that to get them to this thing that they want. And then there’s, like, the big 1 where people if you teach it upfront, people get stuck on it, and they just get stuck and stuck and stuck forever just being like, oh, what’s my what’s my messaging? What’s my brand? What’s my thing?
And it’s like, no. You should just go out and sell that. So here’s, like, the minimal thing go out and sell, and then we can talk about upleveling there. And I’ve just been struggling with how that should be shaped into some, like, the messaging that to give the students because you’re gonna hear how badly I explain it. Right? Does that make any sense to anyone? I’m sorry. I’m hogging.
Tom Ross: It it does. Could you give a specific example and could you give some context about what your course is? So when we understand your course, you kind of mentioned there, I you touched on, like, they get stuck on branding because it’s quite like a full-on topic. But like any examples like that where you’re you’re getting stuck would help us to answer anything.
Gurus: Right. Okay. So, at the moment. And so it’s it’s working with it’s teaching, branding service designers ironically, how to, completely change the way they work, so they go from working with multiple clients, lots of lots of hours, lots of juggling to working with 1 client at a time with a really streamlined process. And part of that, first, we teach sort of how to change the dynamic with the clients that they attract, and then we teach this process that they can only install once they’ve really nailed that different dynamic, which takes this, got a bit of mindset, got a bit of process, etcetera.
That first bit is more like a recipe. So we teach that almost like instructional design. Like, we give them the toolkit and we just, like, learn it and we will mark you on how well you’re doing, give you feedback, etcetera. Then after that, It’s like you can learn the streamlined process. You can up your branding, which for some reason it doesn’t even matter if you’re a branding expert. Branding is really hard when it’s your own brand. Does that does that help? Sorry.
Jordan Godbey: I think I have an idea, or or something that might help. So it sounds like you’re covering 2 stages of a journey. Right? Like, there’s an end goal, but there’s maybe multiple milestones or stages to get there. So it it really makes me think about a program that I’m in. It’s a it’s a coaching program, and there’s the 2 major stages are helping people take their expertise and build their first coaching program and generate, let’s call it 10000 dollars a month. So there are so many hurdles and so many things that you’re gonna go through going from 0 to 1.Tom Ross: That’s gonna be maybe the biggest shift, the biggest transformation to people. Most maybe not most people, but it’s gonna be very hard. Not everyone’s gonna be successful. Right? And so — Yeah. — you can’t give them the advanced stuff, even though they might be attracted to that or interested in that. You know what? You’re a baby beginner right now. You don’t make any money. This is a new thing. We need to get a few of these important foundational pieces in place.
Tom Ross: So you’re helping them actually focus. And if they start to bring up things that are outside of that, you really wanna say No. No. No. We’re not gonna talk about any of those things. That’s gonna derail you. That’s gonna confuse you. These are the 3 things you must nail to get your first client and start coaching and generate 10000 dollars a month.
Jordan Godbey: The people who become successful in that program are then invited or able to graduate into the next level program, which is like a mastermind or a VIP type of program. To give you an example of one of the biggest changes in that second group is in the first group, you have to learn how to do all of your own sales calls and to sell your clients and get them into your program. But then the goal of the group is to be able to scale from 10000 or it’s actually more like 20 or 30000 up to a hundred thousand dollars a month. Those are 2 completely different businesses. So in the second group, you cannot do all of your sales. You actually have to learn how to hire a setter and a closer, like your own salesperson.
Jordan Godbey: Some people might wanna start there, but it would just be the worst thing ever. So you’re focusing on 2 different sets of problems, and you have 2 different levels of mindset issues and questions at those points. So that’s why it helps to really divide them into 2 distinctly different programs. I’m not sure if that’s the exact solution for you, but it sounds like you’re maybe dealing with stages of business evolution.
Gurus: Yeah. No. I think I think that’s that’s it. And it’s just finding those markers and making sure they’re the same for everyone because that sounds really clear when you put it like Thank you so much.
Jordan Godbey: So that first program, for example, is a 5000 dollar program, and the goal is you’re going to be able to get your first client, make 10000 dollars a month. That’s sort of it. The second is a 15000 dollar program where you’re gonna be able to scale up to, you know, a very high dollar amount, and it’s going to radically transform and change your business from what it was in that first program.
Tom Ross: So that’s why they’ve kind of really separated them. Right. And so the pricing is different. They’re kind of like different products in a way, even though they’re different levels of the same journey.
Gurus: Exactly. Do you get sorry if I, tiny question. Do you get more or less support in each of the areas?
Jordan Godbey: Yeah. That’s a good question. It’s different, I would say. In the second program, it’s more intimate. It’s smaller. So in a way, it’s more support, but you almost need less support. Because you’re already more advanced and you’ve already done a lot of the beginner stuff. So I would say maybe volume wise, you get more support in the very beginning, but then in the second group, it’s maybe higher quality, but less volume because you don’t really need it.
Gurus: Right. Okay. Thank you so much. Sorry for hogging the challenge. That was a good question. That’s so valuable.
Emma Catranis: Not at all. Does anybody have any last quick fire questions for Jordan or Tom? Otherwise, maybe they can quickly speak to this idea of perfectionism that we touched on before, but I will give you Maybe 10 seconds just because I know we’re coming on time if you have a quick buyer question for them. Feel free to raise your hand.
Tom Ross: I just unmuted to give props to Jordan for that answer. Now that Thanks, Tom. You wanna take the perfectionism? Can we both take it? Yeah. Yeah. Little ending. Yeah. So Back in the day, I was maybe not shy, but I had the crippling fear of public speaking.Tom Ross: Or putting myself out there or anything like that. Like when I was at school, even beyond that, my hands would shake, my voice would crack, and it really sucked. And when I started producing content online, I had the same thing. And I tried doing a selfie video for Instagram, and it took me, I think an hour and a half an endless takes, and I felt like I could run a marathon just to get a crappy 10 second video out there.
And I put it out there and no one cared. Right? I was completely in my own head, like, why would anyone care about my video? And so that was kind of the beginning. And then I was like, I really wanna get better than this, better at this rather. So, so I started putting the reps in, and I started a series of videos called daily Tom, where I had to just pick up my phone and force myself to do it in one take, and they were really shaky at first.
Tom Ross: And then I started a podcast and did about 200 episodes of that, and then did another podcast, another podcast, and then started doing live talks and interviews, and someone bigger channels would feel really nerve-wracking at first, but then I did enough of those and then stuff like this would feel nerve-wracking at first, but now I feel like I’m just talking to friends, and I couldn’t feel more comfortable.
And even if my delivery is not as polished to some people, I’m just like there. I’ll just let it all out. I really don’t care. It’s it’s fine. And all of that stuff means that I can now film a course and record a lesson in one take. And feel like it’s the most comfortable thing in the world. So the reason for sharing that slightly waffly story is that put in the reps is the best way to get comfortable doing a course. And if you haven’t put the reps in, have compassion and empathy for yourself, if you are not the most comfortable doing it.
Tom Ross: So I hated the sound of my voice, maybe raise your hand if you feel the same way, everyone does. Every single person does. And the reason is there’s a scientific reason due due to, like, the bone density in your ear or something. When you hear yourself talking live, it sounds different than a recording. There’s a disparity, and that’s why you hate the sound of your voice.
But when you record enough content and keep hearing your own voice back incessantly, that gap closes, and now my voice sounds the same now as it does when I watch a video, the most bizarre thing. And so if you feel uncomfortable on video, put yourself on video over and over and over and over again, and I promise when you do that enough, you’re like It’s like nothing, but there’s no shortcuts in my experience.
Jordan Godbey: That was so well said. Absolutely, Tom. I totally agree in I had almost, again, the exact same experience, so funny, just hearing a completely different entrepreneur on the other side of the world going through the exact same things that I go through. I was always a behind the scenes man for 10 years, you know, running this marketing agency. It’s always for other people. It’s always for the clients.
And I’ve developed all this expertise, but nobody knew who I was. So I realized if I don’t ever get out there, if I don’t become the front man, if I don’t get you know, put myself out there and record the content, then I will always be invisible and unknown no matter how much experience and amazing things that I have done it won’t matter. You have to share it. And so those first videos are so painfully bad. They’re just I I have them all enlisted inside of a YouTube. Which is actually great historical content to be able to go back and look at. But I heard it said by a a YouTube expert. I think it was Sean Campbell. Your first hundred videos are going to suck.
100 videos. Right? Like, if you can’t even make 1 or 2, and you’re like, You so I think Tom said something great. Like, just record videos. It doesn’t mean you actually have to publish them but you need to do them. You can keep them totally secret and private. And I think that can reduce a lot of the stress and a lot of the pressure. It’s not that the whole world’s gonna see this. You can say to yourself nobody’s gonna see this, but you’ve got to do it, and you’ve gotta do it over and over, and you’ve gotta listen to it. Jordan Godbey: And it just gets easier every single time. It gets faster. It gets better. And I’m at the point now where I record almost everything in one take. It’s a muscle. You can’t think about it, learn about it, read about it, you’ve got to do it. And the faster that you can just go do it, the faster you’re going to get better. So just remove that pressure. It’s going to be impossible for your first video to be good. Okay? It’s not gonna be good. You just gotta get it out of the way and then get the next 99 out of the way. And every single one is going to get better after that.
Jordan Godbey: I look at this as an encouraging thing, just realizing don’t compare yourself to these people on YouTube that you’re watching because you’re watching their thousandth video, and you’re comparing it to your first video. Right?
Emma Catranis: These were great responses, and I so relate to what both of you were saying. The first time I had to record a tutorial for Circle, it took me like an hour to record a 3-minute thing and I was cringing the whole time. So, I massively relate. It does get easier as you do it more. Thank you both so so much for this really wonderful discussion.
I learned so much. I hope everybody here learned a lot from both of you. I will be uploading the replay of the session probably early next week. I know there’s so much good content in here that I’m sure folks will want to revisit. So, thank you everyone for joining. Thank you for your wonderful questions, and thank you most of all, Jordan and Tom.
Emma Catranis: This was a really great session, and I really appreciate your candor. Thank you guys. This was so fun.
Jordan Godbey: Agreed. Thanks a bunch. Appreciate it.
Tom Ross: Thanks all. Bye. See you around.
Emma Catranis: Bye
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