Creating Email-Based Courses (EBCs) for Fun and Profit with Will Steiner
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Creating Email-Based Courses (EBCs) for Fun and Profit with Will Steiner

  • Big Later: EBC on personal finance/money with humor (a vacuum for financial content, usually dry)
    • Important to differentiate with a niche, consider humor/lightness
    • Started when Will taught his friends basics of personal finance
      • Taught it at Salesforce where he worked
      • Productized it into an email-based course (EBC)
        • An email a day for a month
        • Now converted it into an enterprise solution where employee packages are included with financial literacy
          • Monetize by converting to enterprise solution
  • EBCs are a good alternative to CBCs, MOOCs
    • MOOCs: videos are a lot of work, even more to edit
    • CBCs: require facilitation
    • Nowadays people's relationships with email are evolving with the advent of newsletter revival
    • EBCs are also a lot of work though...Will's tombstone will read "he opened 1 million browser tabs so someone can read 1 email" πŸ˜‚
      • Upside is that it's one-and-done (email is the product) and one can shift quickly to marketing
      • Low-risk entry point to teacher-student relationship (for both creator and the consumer)
  • EBCs are not newsletters because they are a product in-itself
    • Will codified the process of making Big Later so others can make Big Later (need to research where this is??)
    • They can co-exist with newsletters
  • EBC learnings
    • Non-negotiables for successful EBCs
      • Take every opportunity to set expectations
        • Read time
        • Key takeaways
        • Progress tracker
      • Ability to enable self-pacing
        • Allow fast-learners to fast-forward and get the next email earlier, receive additional content
          • Allows identification of the "1000 true fans"
          • (There's 2 months of content for Big Later!)
    • Cherry-on-top
      • Better copy/humor/Wait-But-Why style writing?
        • Structure of the email - Hook, Set Expectations, Define New Concepts, Put in Context, Why You Should Care
          • Provide the sensation of learning
        • Style and Voice
          • Feel like a conversation with someone who has interesting things to say
            • Use a Q&A format
          • Metaphors used to deepen meaning
        • Personal touch
          • References to personal life
          • Inside jokes developed over-time
          • Develops student-teacher relationship too
  • Business models/monetization
    • People don't value free stuff
      • Price is a signal!
    • Will has a $5 EBC and a $299 EBC (!)
      • Out of 1500 customers, 1 requested for refund (b/c content didn't apply to their country)
      • Open rates were higher when people pay $5 for a product
      • How convincing is your landing page?
      • Really dial in the free trial option (tricky to improve conversion rates)
    • Moving from B2C β†’ B2B
      • One size fit all product β†’ different skews originally, but ended up going straight to B2B
        • DO NOT build a business around a $5 product πŸ˜…
          • Upside is 1500 customers and beta-testing
          • Was forced into B2B because he priced too low in the beginning...
        • B2B
          • works for Will b/c the "current product" is so terrible (ancient 401K rep giving an hour long lunch-and-learn...)
  • Reasons to make an EBC
    • Are you interested in teaching someone something?
      • Teaching pedagogy
    • EBC content can be leveraged into other media
      • The craft will force one to distill ideas and easily transpose into workshops, MOOCs, CBCs, etc.
  • Will's writing rituals
    • Cyclical, content + selling + operations, typical founder stuff πŸ™‚
    • Writes best early in the morning
    • Solving problems in subconscious
    • Divergent β†’ convergent thinking/outlining process (open research β†’ 3 key takeaways)
    • If you are surprised when you learn something, then someone else will be surprised too
  • Audience Q&A
    • Why $5 then?
      • Base product is just $5 to make financial literacy available for everyone
    • What are typical EBC pricing ranges?
      • $299 is on the high end
    • Philosophically, where is email heading?
      • The move of corporate communications to Slack has improved people's relationships with their email inbox

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