Jono Petrohilos Gives Expert Course Creation Strategies to Scale an Online Business

April 12, 2021
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In today’s episode, we have Jono Petrohilos with us and he is going to talk about his best online course strategies for maximum success.

You will also get to hear how he was able to bootstrap his online business for fitness boot camps, why upskilling your abilities will give you an edge over the competition, and his methods for attracting the right audience while getting paid at the same time.

Website: fitnesseducationonline
Facebook: jono.petrohilos.98
LinkedIn: Jono Petrohilos
Instagram: jono_petrohilos


In this episode, you will hear...

… Jono Petrohilos’ real-life story of going from a total failure to success that will inspire you to pick yourself back up.

… how humility, teachability, and a change of mindset helped Jono learn from other successful people and turn around his performance in just one year.

… the tough but necessary lesson Jono learned on taking responsibility for his success or failure and not shifting blame to others.

… why continuous improvement, training, and learning new skills is a critical part of success in every area of life and business.

… the incredible transformation from being the worst performer and failure to becoming a highly regarded success coach and trainer.

… Jono’s hilarious but insightful journey of putting together his first online course using mostly free resources.

… a great tip for new online course creators to increase their knowledge, learn new skills, and gain a competitive edge over other course creators.

… why Jono recommends taking time to build a strong following and doing market research before creating an online course.

… advice on how new course creators can use social media to build a following and credibility before launching an online course.

… a clever and hassle-free strategy you can start earning an income from your expertise before putting together an online course.

… the ultimate guide to launching your first mini-course, creating a membership site, and building your email list fast.

… trips and tricks online course creators can use to leverage their membership audience to bring in more sales.



Jeremy Deighan
Hey, everyone. Thanks for checking out the podcast. Today, we have Jono Petrohilos from Fitness Education Online and also his course creator community, who is an awesome person.

I am in his group, I've been for some time now and he just provides so much value to his community that I personally have taken a lot of golden nuggets just watching what he does in his group and implementing some of those strategies in my group. It's a pleasure to have you today. How are you doing?

Jono Petrohilos
I'm awesome. Pleasure to be here, Jeremy. I'm in your group as well. I listen to your podcast. So it's an honor to be a guest.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. We are very blessed in the fact that the online course community is a really good community. I feel like everyone strives to help one another out. And it's great to hear how other course creators are doing it out there. So, yeah. I can't wait to dive in and hear what you have to say.

Jono Petrohilos
Yes, let's do it.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, for sure. For anyone who doesn't know who you are or isn't familiar with your business or brand, why don't you just give us a little bit of history about what you were doing before you got into online business and online courses? And then how did you make that transition into creating an online course?

Jono Petrohilos
Yes, love that question because it allows me to talk about my favorite topic in the world; myself. I guess where I started, originally, I was a fitness trainer; a face-to-face fitness trainer. Not an online guru or supermodel or anything. I was running a fitness bootcamp.

And to cut a long story short, I actually sucked at it. I was at this franchise, Jeremy. There were 75 different boot camp locations all across Australia and New Zealand. And you were ranked on how good you were, how many of your clients came back, how good your attention was essentially.

If you were the best in the franchise, you were ranked number one. If you were the worst, you were ranked 75. Now, take a guess, Jeremy, when I started off, what do you think I was ranked out of 75?

Jeremy Deighan
72 and a half.

Jono Petrohilos
I wish. You're so kind. I was 75. I was dead last. I knew the trainer that was coming 74th; he was not a good trainer. The fact that he was beating me wasn't good. And I'm competitive as well. I come second in something; I'm upset. I come third in something; I'm borderline depression.

I came to 75th and I was like, "Man, this isn't good." And at the end of the year, we had to go to this convention. We're all different 75 trainers. We would go and we'd talk about strategies and upscale and whatnot.

And I didn't want to go because I'm like, "Man, I don't want to go. I'm dead last. I'm coming 75th. Everyone there is going to be so much fitter and stronger and better looking and taller and athletes and going to be some gold medalist there and some supermodels. I don't want to go to this place."

But I sucked up the courage and went. And it's the best thing that I ever did because what I learned there was amazing, but also it just shows a level of growth. If anyone's listening to this now, if anyone's listening to this story now and they're like, "Oh, if I could go back in time," or if you said that to me now, "Hey, Jono. You've got the opportunity to go into this room with these 75 people better than you." I would rush to get in that room.

I would pay 1000s of dollars to get in that room because it's like, "You know what, here's all these people that know stuff that I don't know. Let me know this freaking stuff. Let me pay to know this stuff so I don't suck." But back then, obviously, my mindset wasn't great.

And no wonder I was coming 75th. I was scared to be around people better than me. But anyway, I mustered up the courage and I went because I thought, "Well, if I go, yeah, maybe I'll look like an idiot and I'll get fired. But if I don't go, I'll definitely get fired."

So anyway, I went to this convention and yada yada yada. I had a meeting with the franchise owner, and they were like, "Jono, what's going on? You're coming 75th." And I'm like, "Yeah, but it's not my fault. It's the competition. There's so much competition out there. It's 24-hour gyms. There's a boot camp on every corner. Every second person is a fitness influencer."

"Also, the marketing. What sort of marketing are you guys doing for me? You don't get me any leads. The leads that you get me suck. And the weather; you know, I'm here in Sydney. It's not the Gold Coast where it's beautiful weather every single day. It rains in Sydney, it's windy, yada, yada, yada."

The franchise owner was like, "Jono, I got some good news and I got some bad news. The bad news is as a bootcamp instructor, you're coming 75th. You suck. Here's a pie chart showing where you are compared to everyone else. You're dead last. But the good news is you can do something about it."

"At the moment, you're sitting there blaming everybody else but yourself. Hey, maybe it's not the competition's fault that you suck, maybe it's your fault that you haven't done enough to be better than the competition. What courses have you done? What workshops have you attended? What conventions have you been to? What coaches have you hired?"

And I'm like, "Don't I just have to train people?" And they were like, "Also, the marketing. You're blaming us for the marketing. Well, is it our marketing or is it that you suck at sales? What sales coaching have you done? What business coaching have you done? What sales books have you read?"

And I was like, "Oh, I gotta do this stuff, too?" And they were like, "And also, if we're marketing so bad, why don't you just go and do your own freakin marketing?" And I'm like, "Whoa. Yeah, it could be."

"And then also the weather, Jono, you can hire out a school hall for 20 bucks, or a church hall for 20 bucks and that will save all of your weather dramas. You can solve your biggest problem for 20 bucks, but you're too busy sitting here blaming everybody else but yourself, the one person that can actually do something about it."

And I was like, "Oh, good point." And they were like, "Look, you're not a bad guy. You're just not accepting responsibility. What we want you to do for this next year is take 100% responsibility. If you suck at something, don't blame someone else. Go and freakin do something about it. Learn that skill."

And I was like, "Okay, that sort of makes sense." And then that year, I just dedicated myself to wanting everything to do with running a successful boot camp. I was like, "Well, what am I going to do?" And then I remember there was this website called Google, which you can find any information you want on there.

So, I went on Google, looked at a few different blogs. I went on YouTube; watched a few different videos. I did some of my own stuff to start with. And it was okay. I picked up a trick or two. But then from there, I think I was watching a YouTube video and then the guy was also a business coach.

He was like, "Enter our details, we'll give you a free call." I entered my details in there, bought the business coaching, and got a lot out of it. So, long story short, I just did everything that year. I attended courses, workshops, coaching, blogs, YouTube videos, just immersed myself with learning. I went back to the same convention 12 months later. Now, take a guess what I was ranked, Jeremy?

Jeremy Deighan
Number one?

Jono Petrohilos
Yes. number one.

Jeremy Deighan

Yeah. Number one.

That is awesome.

Jono Petrohilos
Yeah. And there's a few things. That taught me a few big lessons there. Number one, just take responsibility for your life and what can happen. But number two, it showed me the power of education. It's like, hold on, if you don't know something, just freakin do a course in that thing. And then you're going to get better at it.

And for me, it was very linear because it was like, "Alright, if I go and spend 300 bucks on a workshop, for example, I go to a half-day workshop or whatever and let's say I spent 300 bucks on that. If I just learn how to get one client from that workshop, it's going to pay for it." That's what the boot camp was roughly at those stages.

So, the sign-up for my 10-week boot camp was 300 bucks. If I pay someone 300 bucks to attend their course or their workshop, if I just learned one thing that can get me one client, it's paid for itself. Ideally, I want to learn more than just one thing and get more than one client. And ideally, that client is going to stay for longer than just 10 weeks.

Because if it's a fitness thing, it's not 10 weeks they buy. I want this person to train with me for the rest of their life. And I want this person to bring their sister, and their friend and their colleague. So one coin in the fitness space is really powerful.

Anyway, long story short, I went from 75 to one and then I was number one the next year as well. And during that time, other trainers started to ask me. They were like, "Jono, how are you doing it? What marketing are you doing? What sales are you doing? What workouts are you doing? What retention are you doing? What games are you playing?"

And I'd sort of give little tips here and there. But it got to a point and I was like, "You know what? I can't just give someone a little tip. There's so much more to it." And I did all these different courses in coaching. And then along with that as well, I've always upskilled.

Even when I was number one, I was still always upskilling. Every couple of months doing a course, doing a workshop, had a business coach; always something going on. But it got to a point and I was like, "Hold on. When it comes specifically to boot camps, there's no course out there. I can put something together that's better than any other course out there."

There may have been a course that was sales for all fitness people, but I knew it's specifically for boot camp. There might have been a course on how to come up with different workouts, but I knew it specific for boot camp. When it came to boot camp, I had the perfect system.

Any single question anyone had about boot camp, I knew it in my head. And I was like, "You know what? I want to put one of these courses together because I've got this knowledge. I can help people." And then also I wanted it as another form of income. I was reading Rich Dad Poor Dad at the time and he spoke about multiple different forms of income.

And at the time, I wanted it to actually be a face-to-face workshop because I didn't know about online. This was back in 2014. No one really did online courses then; not in Australia anyway.

So, I was like, "Alright, cool. I'm going to do a face-to-face course." And I was like, "Alright, I'm working Monday to Saturday in the fitness boot camp, maybe I can run it on Sunday."

But then I thought and I was like, "You know what? I'm putting a lot of effort into my fitness bootcamp. Do I really want to give up my one day off to run a face-to-face workshop and give up my sunday?"

And then I'm like, "You know what? Also, what happens if I run this course and nobody comes?" I've put in all this effort, I'm going to have to rent out a facility, and then no one comes. What a waste of money and effort?

I was like, "Even worse, what happens if I do this and only one person comes?" At least if no one comes, I can go home and I don't have to do it. If one person comes, you actually have to teach that course. This is not really going to be worth it.

So, then I was like, "Alright. You know what? What about this online thing? I heard murmurs. It's 2014, there's facebook now, maybe there's an option to do it online. And I went to my old friend, Google and the only thing I could find was someone who created a full website for you.

And in those days, that was like $5,000 minimum. It was like, "You pay us $5,000 and we'll create you a website and that can have a course on there." I think it was even more. I think I got quoted like $10,000 or something. And I was like, "Man, that's a steep thing."

Then I just sort of forgot about it. I was scrolling through Facebook and then an ad came up and it said, "Hey, download my free ebook." I was like, "Ebook? What's an ebook?" And then I downloaded this, and I don't think it was free. I think it was those "Get this $20 ebook" or something.

I was like, "What's an ebook? I've never heard of this before." I downloaded the ebook and I was like, "Hold on, this is just a Microsoft Word document saved as a PDF." I'm like, "I'm no technological expert, but I know how to create a Microsoft Word document and save it as a PDF."

So I was like, "Hold on, maybe i can create an ebook." So that's how I started the online course. I was like, "I want to create this ebook." And this ebook was huge. It was like 80 pages. It was more a manual than an ebook, but it was sort of like a course.

I feel like if you're going to put a detailed written course together, 80 pages isn't that much. How much is an average book? At least 200 or 300 pages, right? So it was basically like a book or a manual or something like that.

And I was like, "Okay. There's just something missing." There are some points, especially me, I'm more an audio person than a written person. I failed English in high school. And it's like there are some points I just can't get across. I just can't explain what I'm thinking.

If there's some way I can get video on this ebook, that would be amazing. How am I going to get video? I went to my old friend, Google and I was like, "How can I host videos for free?"

And then I realized there was this program called YouTube where you can upload unlisted videos on there for free. And the only people that can see them are people that you actually give the link to. So I was like, "Alright."

I remember the course was Four Steps to a Successful Boot Camp. So it was an intro, a conclusion, and assessment. There were four different modules in there. And I was like, "Okay. Along with each module," which was 10, 15 pages, "let me also take a quick 10, 15-minute video just explaining what it would be."

And I didn't even know about powerpoint back then. So I had to try and remember my lines, there are few ums and uhs, and I just did it from my computer; not even my phone. With no microphone.

It was just sitting in front of my computer, just in my mom's house at the time in my bedroom. I just recorded four different 15-minute videos, uploaded them to the ebook, and I was like, "Okay. Now, this is getting better. It's really good info here. You can watch the video, you can read the manual, you can do both at the same time."

But I'm like, "There's something missing. It still just looks like a Microsoft Word document." I was like, "What can I do?" And I tried to put borders on there and put some colors and some pictures, but I just made it look worse.

You know all that stuff on Microsoft Word; there's line breaks, and it indents the wrong way. And I was like, "Okay, this isn't working." And I went to my old friend, Google. And I found there was this web site called Fiverr, where back in those days anyway, you could get anything you want done for $5.

And I was like, "This is crazy." I went through there and I still remember some of the stuff. There was this one thing I saw on there, there was this one guy that said he would slap himself in the face if you gave him $5.

So I did it more for intrigue. I was like, "I'm interested. How does this thing work?" So I paid him five bucks and he sent me over a video of him slapping himself. And I'm like, "This guy is an idiot. What's wrong with this guy? How desperate is he?" But then the joke was on me.

Then I realized, "Hold on. This is an unlisted YouTube video. Hold on. There's 100,000 people that have watched this video. Hold on. This guy has made half a million dollars of slapping himself once." I'm like, "This guy is a genius." That's leverage; where you do one thing once and you get paid again, and again, and again.

I'm like, "Man, this guy is a genius. Now, this is what I've got to implement on my online course." I put it together once, but then everyone that sells it buys the thing again, again, again and again."

But long story short, sent it to Fiverr and they put some borders on it. It didn't look amazing, to be honest, but now it wasn't just a Microsoft Word document. It was a little bit better than that.

So that's how I put the course together. That was a grand total of $5 I spent on production. It probably took me a few months to put together and I could do it so much quicker now if I was to redo it. But starting off, you don't know, right?

You spend all this time putting it together. You don't know what should be in there, what shouldn't be in there. You base it on what you think. Anyways, long story short, I put it together. I had this 80-page manual.

It looked okay. We had really good content in there, had some videos, had some written stuff. And I was like, "Okay. Let's start selling this." I got it on a website. I got it on the Fitness Australia website. It's a website here in Australia that a lot of trainers go to and there's blogs, and there's info and whatever.

And I paid a certain amount. I think I was selling the course for $300 and it was about $1,000 a year to get the course on there. And I was like, "You know what, I think that's a fair deal. I think if I can just sell three of these things a year and it's paid for itself, I'm pretty sure I can sell more than three a year. And even if I don't, I'm willing to lose $1,000 on that gamble."

Anyways, I put it on there and I got an inquiry pretty much straight away. And I didn't even know how to sell it at that stage because all you could put on there was they had a list of courses, 600 different courses. I don't even think I had a website.

So I think I just put my number in there or my email and then someone gave me a call. They're like, "I'm interested in this bootcamp course. Can you tell me about it?" I was like, "Yeah, he's what's in it, yada, yada, yada." They're like, "Yeah, great. I want to do it. How do I sign up?"

And I'm like, "Oh, man, I've got no idea how to do it." All I had was the ebook. So I was like, "Hey, I'm just about to step in a meeting. Can I get back to you in about an hour?" They're like, "Yeah," no dramas.

I went to my old friend, Google, again, how to get people to pay. Then I realized PayPal is quite efficient at that. You can get a link, you send over that person a link, they make the payment, yada, yada, yada. So, I put together a PayPal link, sent it over. That person bought.

I had no idea about automation at that stage. As soon as they bought, I just manually sent them over the manual. And then I'll never forget, I was so nervous because there was an assessment at the end of it. And I put a feedback form with the assessment.

If I was to do it again, I probably wouldn't have even done it. I don't even know why I did it. I don't even know why but it was the best thing I ever did. And I still remember being so nervous when I got that feedback back from the course.

I was like, "Man, is this person just going to be like, "You're a ripoff! You charged me 300 bucks and you sent me a Microsoft Word document and I already knew this staff."? I was so scared. I'm a confident guy, but took me about 5, 10 minutes of that email sitting there just to psych myself up and be like, "It's going to be okay. The feedback could be alright, and if it's bad, okay, it's bad. What can you do? Just go and fix it."

I opened it up and the feedback was really, really good. It was like, "Man, this guy has thought of everything. It was easy to read. The videos were good summaries. I'm going to use all this stuff. Really good course; super impressed, good value."

I was like, "Thank God." Anyway, I'd get about maybe a sale a month just from being on that website. It's not a huge amount of volume, but it was pretty good at the time. You do that for a year, what's that? $3,000? I paid them $1,000. It wasn't bad. Those days, it wasn't bad.

And it was more just like it was validated. It was like, okay, people do actually want this thing. The first two or three feedback forms, I was also scared. I was like, "What's this person going to say?" But everything was really good.

After about three or four months, I'd made three or four sales, had three or four feedback forms. And all of them were really, really good. And that's when it got me thinking. I was like, "Okay. Hold on, I'm onto something here. Everyone that's doing this course says that it's really, really good. Maybe I've got a good course. Now I just need to find a way to actually sell it."

It's not bad selling one one a month while doing very little, but I'm not going to get rich off that. I'm barely breaking even. And even if you put the amount of time that I spent putting it together and maybe some phone calls and some emails of inquiries, it's almost not even worth it for the financial side of things.

I liked the impact I was having. It showed the validation there. But the money side of things probably wasn't worth the effort. But I knew that there was opportunity to get it out there. Now, I can move on from there, but that's how I got into it. Any questions or anything you want me to cover on that side of things, Jeremy?

Jeremy Deighan
No, that's great. I just, first of all, want to congratulate you for your accomplishment of being the last to the first place. I just think that's awesome. And it really shows the value of leveling up and skilling up your mindset and your education. That's very important.

And if no one listened to the rest of this podcast episode, and just listened to the first part of what you talked about, I feel like they would have a lot of great information.

Jono Petrohilos
I think the other reason why I'm doing quite well in the online course space as well is because I actually value online courses. It's like I used to suck at something and then I got better at it. And the reason I got better was because of courses. And I think that's important for people listening as well.

If you've never purchased an online course yourself, but then you're trying to sell someone else your online course, there's a bit of incongruence there. I was just so congruent because it's like, "Hey, online courses changed my life. Let me change someone else's life. " It was so congruent.

And similar to fitness, when I used to run a fitness boot camp, I used to train on my own. But then I would train other people in the boot camp. And some of the objections that I would get would be like, "Oh, 50 bucks a week for boot camp is a lot of money. I'm tight on money, yada, yada, yada."

It was hard for me to handle that objection because I wasn't paying any money on my fitness. Long story short, I got busy. My fitness went downhill a bit. So I'm like, "I need to sign up to another boot camp to keep myself fit." I signed up for another boot camp, which also costs $50 per week.

So when anyone gave me the price excuse, it was like, "Yeah, I see where you're coming from. I think of it a little bit differently. Myself, I'm a personal trainer, and I pay 50 bucks a week for my fitness. If I'm not a trainer, I'd probably pay more than that."

And then from there, I actually stopped doing that boot camp. The trainer left and I started doing one-on-one personal training, which cost me about $150 a week. And then making a sale for 50 bucks a week was a slam dunk. It was like if anyone said, "Oh, 50 bucks a week? That's a lot of money." I was like, "Yeah, it depends how you look at it. I actually pay triple that and I'm a personal trainer."

And even if I didn't say those words, you could hear it in my voice. It's like if I wasn't paying money and I'm trying to ask someone else to pay me money for the same thing, it's just going to come out... I'm not saying you can't do it, but it was so much easier for me and more congruent when I was paying someone else more than that . It was so much easier for me to sell my program for less than that.

So I think that's another good tip as well. If someone's listening to this and they're struggling to sell an online course, one of the things may be, well, hold on, have you done an online course yourself? And it doesn't necessarily have to be in the same field. But it just helps if you've done something online. It's going to help.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. And I think even picking hobbies or something different that you're interested in, you will learn tips and tricks and ways of doing things that you might not have thought of before.

I've noticed that where I might not be into maybe fitness or something. Maybe I've never taken fitness courses, but I take a fitness course and I realize like, "Oh, they do things a little differently in the fitness course. Maybe I can implement some of this information into the way that I do my course."

Jono Petrohilos
100%. That's another awesome point as well. And that's what I found, where let's say in my world now that I'm educating personal trainers, right? So it's good for me to stay in the fitness space and see what the other fitness educators are doing. But it's just as important for me to get out of that space completely and do something unrelated.

Learn Spanish, learn salsa dancing, learn singing, different stuff there and then bring it into my world. That way, I now look like an innovator. If I'm just doing what all the other fitness educators are doing, everyone's just doing the same stuff. But if you're getting out there and learning about completely other industries, and then you're tweaking it to work in your industry, and you're the first person that did it like that, you're an innovator.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. That's absolutely true. Yeah, it's hard not to get in that trap of just regurgitating what everyone else is saying all the time. You got to be creative. You got to go out there and you got to come up with your own ideas and think about the ways that you would go about the processes.

So, that's a great story, man. It's cool to hear your journey. It's definitely one of the best bootstrapping stories I've heard where you were literally figuring out the piece right before you need to.

Jono Petrohilos
I wouldn't recommend doing like that today. Now, there's platforms like New Zenler where you can get a free trial, or there's Thinkific, where you can get one course up there for free as well. And it's got all that stuff. It's got the landing page, it's got the opt in, it's got the videos, people can pay.

So if you're listening to this, don't be like, "Oh, that's the way to do it. And ebook on Microsoft Word." I wouldn't do it like that today. A, I don't think these platforms existed in 2014. And then, B, I just didn't know about them.

So I'm not recommending anyone to do that in today's world. I think the moral of the story is don't sweat about the smallest stuff there. If your info is good and there's a way to sell it, it doesn't matter whether you're on Kajabi or Thinkific or New Zenler or whatever it may be.

Jeremy Deighan
So thinking about anyone who's starting off in their course creation journey, what would be the strategy? Or how would you get someone started? Say, they're working a job and they've heard about online courses. They're aware of the industry, and they think, "Maybe I have this skill, and it could be a course." And they're listening to this podcast, but they just don't really know where to start. What would be the recommendation from you?

Jono Petrohilos
My recommendation would be, in a short sense, build your following because once you've got a following, everything else is easy. Once you've got a following, you can do anything. And you jump online and people are teaching different things, "Hey, use Facebook ads." "Hey, sell a high-ticket coaching program." "Hey, use YouTube." "Do it organically."

They are all good strategies, but what helps is if you've got that audience, everything else is easier. And I'll go back a few steps. The very first step is I would just join different Facebook groups in the niche that you're looking to teach, and you probably won't even know the exact niche to start with.

It might change. It might be a variation of it, but just join a few different Facebook groups and just get involved in the conversations there. The good Facebook groups will have people asking questions. Just go in there and then see what the questions are and just just help people out.

If you know the answer to it, answer it. Just go in there and network. From there, it'll probably narrow it down. It'll be one of two things. It'll either be like, "Okay. The questions that people are asking, I don't know how to answer these questions. Maybe this isn't the niche for me, or maybe it's not what I should be doing."

Or there may be this specific type of question that you're like, "Whenever anyone asks this question, I can answer that question. And that person loves it and then I get 5, 10 people liking my comment." Then you're onto something.

So that would be my very first start point. Before you sign up for Teachable or Thinkific or New Zenler, or before you start a Facebook group, or before you build your email list, I would just join different Facebook groups and just interact in different Facebook groups until you get a clearer picture.

That would be my step one and it might not sound sexy because people are like, "I want to launch next week. What do I get? Kajabi? And then what do I use for my email platform?" But I think a little bit different. I would just interact in Facebook groups and not even with the idea of selling something or have a hard sell at this stage.

It's more just like, "Hey, let me see what's going on. Let me see what's happening in the industry." And if I relate it back to myself; I did a little bit differently when I started. But the way I was able to do that is I just attended a whole heap of different courses. In those days, all the ones I attended were face-to-face ones.

So it was like just by attending all these different workshops, I already had a decent network. By the time I launched my course, I already had 100, 200 of my ideal avatar that I was already friends with on facebook. I could start up a Facebook group with 200 people that I was already friends with and already knew me. It was just way easier to start with.

And then I also knew because when I would go to these workshops, I talked to people, "Hey what are you doing?" "I need help with this. I need help with that." I had all that validation, all that research that I'd sort of been doing subconsciously for two years.

Now, once again, it might not have been the fastest way to do it, but if I was to do it again, I would just interact in Facebook groups for two months and I could probably get that same amount of information and connections and networking and friends from doing it that way. So that will be my first bit of advice

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. Awesome. Let's say that someone interacts and they network and they get an idea for a course; what is your strategy for helping someone create an online course? Do you have a launch strategy? Do you do a beta program which is kind of popular right now?

How would you take someone who has got some market research, they've been growing a little bit of an audience and a following, and they're ready to get that information out there? What would be the process that you would take them through

Jono Petrohilos
Gotcha. So I teach a little bit different to what everyone else teaches out there where I think a lot of it is a numbers game. The bigger you have your list, the more successful your launch is going to be. There's obviously other factors at play, but so much of it comes down to your audience, right?

So what I actually teach and recommend is actually to start off with a membership site. Instead of doing a big course launch, what I recommend starting with is a membership site or a membership program or something like that. It's something low-ticket as well.

It's something around $20 to $100 per month, cancel anytime. That's the program there. And if you're thinking, "Hold on, why would I sell something for that small? I've put all this work together and I'm just selling it for 50 bucks or something?"

Well, here's the thing. I don't recommend putting any work together for your membership site. This is where I guess it's similar to a lot of what the experts are teaching. My definition of a membership site is you sell absolutely nothing to start with.

Your membership site is going to be something like, "Hey, it's a weekly coaching call with me. We meet at 8:00 am every morning. I cover a different topic every week. If you attend live, great, you attend live. You can ask questions. If not, totally cool. I upload the replay to New Zenler or whatever it is and you can watch the replay in your own time."

Now, there's a few advantages of doing it that way there. Firstly, you don't have to have anything to get started. That's the biggest one there because the biggest stress point that I see a lot of course creators make is they'll create a course, they'll spend like six months to a year creating it, they'll try and launch it, and then no one buys it.

With this strategy here, there's none of that going on because you haven't done any work. All you need is a sales page which says, "Here's my membership site on my membership program. We meet at this date here every week, cover a different topic, click here to buy."

So you don't need to do any work at all. And then you have it running passively in the background. What I mean by that is you should... Oh, I should go back a step. Before you have the membership site, a mini course is the most important thing or a lead magnet.

I recommend the first course you create should be a mini course. And a few reasons why. Firstly, once you've created a mini course, you'll see that it's not that hard. You'll be like, "Oh, that was it! I did it in an hour or two hours. Now I'm a course creator. You know what? This stuff isn't that hard."

So it helps with your identity now that you're a course creator. It helps show you that it's not that hard. It helps get you get your head around the tech sort of things. And then it's a whole other topic how to create the perfect lead magnet. We probably won't cover that today. But now just know it's got to be a good lead magnet.

And I will touch on it there as well. What a lot of people do with the lead magnet is they'll just come up with something, "Hey, here's the 10 tips to gratefulness," or something like that. Now, the better way, I find, to come up with the perfect lead magnet is to go in different Facebook groups that allow promotions.

There's always going to be groups that allow you to promote, and you test your different lead magnet in there before you've created it. So you could go into a Facebook group, and you're like, "Hey, guys. I've just created some free training on this topic here. Comment below if you're interested and I'll send it over."

Now, if you post that and you get one or two people comment, it's probably not the perfect lead magnet. You might just take something quick and send it over to them.

But if you test something different every single week, sooner or later, you're going to hit gold. And there's going to be one thing where there's like 20, 30, 40, 100 people commenting on it. That's your lead magnet. You know you've got it hot.

Once you've got that perfect lead magnet, then you're in the game because you know you can put it on your social medias, you can promote it in other groups, you can run ads to it, you can mention it at the end of your talks, when you're on podcasts or whatever. You're in the game once you've got that perfect lead magnet.

Now, the follow up from that is the perfect lead magnet is just to start. That's just to get someone's email address. Now, I'm not a fan of just building your email list and then waiting to launch. What I recommend is build that email list. As soon as you've got that person's email, they go into your funnel.

And you send three or four different emails over the next week or so, basically, selling that membership site for let's just call it 50 bucks a month, cancel anytime. And let's say you've got an option where they can get their first month for $1.

The reason I recommend that strategy there is a few things. Number one, at that price, you can actually sell it straightaway off an email without anyone knowing about you. If you're trying to sell a course for 500, 1000 bucks off the first email someone gets when they've never heard about you, it's going to be a hard job.

Different story if you're running webinars, you're doing sales calls, they're already on your list, okay, then you can sell that sort of stuff there. But when they first hear about you, it's going to be very hard to sell a lot of money. But if it's like 50 bucks a month, cancel anytime, click here to get your first month for $1., there's no better investment for them.

So you can make a sale off the front end there. And the fact that it's membership works because most people stay for at least six months, if not longer. Let's just say they stay for six months at 50 bucks a month, there's already a $300 sale there. But if you tried to sell the 300 thing off the start, it would be quite hard.

But if it's a membership site like that, okay, great. It's still that sale. You can still sell to these people on the membership site because they're not getting any of your courses, right? They're just basically getting the weekly call and then the replay of that as well. And these people will probably be your harder clients.

So one advantage is you're getting paid to build your list. So anyone that chose you to launch will tell you to build your list anyway, right? But if you do it this way, you're actually getting paid to build your list. And let's say someone's telling you to launch, they're like, "Hey, build your list for three months and then warm the list up, and then you're still at the end of it." Great.

You can still do that with your strategy, but the difference is three months down the track, you might have 20 members that are already paying you 50 bucks a month. You've already got 1000 bucks a month coming in before you've even launched. So that's one reason to do it.

The other reason I like doing it like that as well is you just get really good market research and you get good at teaching as well. Because what you're doing in those weekly calls is you're essentially teaching your course or doing a practice run of teaching your course.

Once again, anyone that teaches you to launch will probably tell you to do something similar as well. Sell it first, and then deliver it as you go. You're still going to do this when it's time to launch your big goals. The difference is you've already had a practice go of it.

You've already had three months of practicing it. So when you actually launch it, it's actually the second time around you're doing it and you're going to be 100 times better. And in terms of time investment, an hour a week, you can't get any more leveraged than that.

And that's another story. Once your course is automated, great, you can do it. But even if you did that for 12 weeks, you may throw in one automated course. It might not be your main signature course, but you may throw in some mini courses in there. And they could be your upsells for $50 or $7 or $97 or whatever it may be. So that's my recommended strategy.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, very awesome. And this is kind of a side question. I know it doesn't matter too much. but if someone heard this and was like, "Yes, this is great. I want to get started." What are you using to process payments for recurring memberships?

Jono Petrohilos
New Zenler. I just use everything on New Zenler with that business. So I've got two businesses. I've got the Fitness Educational Online, I've got the course creator community. Either way, I just sell directly off the platform that I'm using.

So with Fitness Education Online, I use Teachable and I think onTeachable you can pay with Stripe or PayPal but i'm not sure. And then New Zenler, I use that. New Zenler does have to be linked with Stripe. What happens sometimes is I think there are certain countries that don't allow Stripe or whatever it is, but if that's the case, I've also got a backup PayPal link.

And if someone's like, "Hey, Jono. I want to sign up for your membership but I cannot usePayPal," I just manually send them over that link. I'm like, "Great. Here you go. Here's our link on PayPal. It's 40 bucks a month, cancel anytime." And then I just manually add them there. So they just sign straight up off if I'm using Teachable or New Zenler.

Jeremy Deighan
Coo. That's a really great strategy. I like that a lot because like you said it's a low barrier to entry. It allows you to build an audience and also get paid while building that audience. And it also seems like a great way to create new content.

If you wanted to build up that content over time you could sell that into a bigger package or you could upgrade the cost of the course if you wanted to. It seems like over those weeks, you're going to be creating new content, adding more content to the membership area, and that's just going to keep growing.

Jono Petrohilos
That's it and there's a few things there as well. It sort of forces you to create content, which is a good thing. By the end of that 12 weeks, you've now got a course or a mini course. And even a podcast. If someone's watching this and they're like, "But I don't even know what I'm going to sell yet."

What do I often do? A couple of things that I do. I like to sell off webinars as well. So if i'm going to run a webinar, I just run it during that weekly time and I just let everyone come. My members don't care. It's 40 bucks a month, cancel any time. It's good because I sell at the end of that webinar, right?

But for my members, it's still good content, they're getting awesome value. So if I'm going to run a webinar and sell something and it helps having people in a webinar. You run a webinar and there's two people in there; it looks crap.

But if you're already running these weekly calls and you've got 10 people in there that are members and then you get 10 new people coming in that you're going to sell something, those 10 new people don't know these 10 people are your members. They're like, "Oh, 20 people? There's a few people in here. This guy must know a thing or two. This guy must be good."

So there's that sign there, but also podcasts. I try and book all my podcasts at the time when I do the weekly call. That way, it's zero work on my behalf. I bring an expert on and it's a win-win-win because it's better for the expert.

Let's use you as an example, Jeremy. I could say, "Hey, come on a podcast and it's me and you here." You don't know if anyone's ever going to see that podcast when I live it and how many downloads I have or whatever. But if I said, "Hey, come to this podcast. I've also got 10 people that are going to be there. They're my members."

You wouldn't care if I had 10 people in there. Would you do it on a podcast? And they can ask you questions during it and at the end of it. It's probably a better experience for you, right? You could answer the questions live. You can tell people, "Hey, I've got this podcast, go and join it now." It'd probably be a better experience.

And then if you're listening to this and being like, "Well, hold on. Why would someone join your VIP membership just to listen to a podcast that they can get free anyway?" Well, firstly, they're getting access to it now. I think this podcast we probably recorded it a month ago now, right Jeremy?

So it's like the VIPs are getting access now and then the freebies get it in a month's time. Great. If these VIPs are smart, they've already had a month to implement everything they've learned and do that there.

But also you can cut the podcast at, say, 45 minutes and say, "You guys have exclusive access to Jeremy for 15 minutes. He's made millions of dollars online. Ask him any questions that he wants there." So it's more valuable for the VIPs because they actually get the Q&A as well.

So it's just a time that's forcing you to create content and you can get as creative as you want in that time, whether it's you're creating a mini course, whether it's you're doing Q&A, whether it's you need a new lead magnet, you record your lead magnet there. It's just your time that you can do the stuff that you need to do anyway but it's better because there's people in there.

You can't put it off and then you can make sure that it's appropriate. Yeah, there's just so many different winds. Another way to look at it is you should be spending an hour a week doing this sort of stuff anyway, why not get paid for it?

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, that's exactly right. Jono, man, this is some great information and I know we're coming up on the time here which is sad because I feel like I could ask you questions for hours. But just looking forward at where your business has come from those early days where you were dead last and then you started changing your mindset growing as a person and getting into this online course business.

I know now you've become very successful in the fitness and the course creation space. Where do you see your business going forward? What is it that you would like to accomplish in, say, the next five years or where would you like to take these businesses going forward?

Jono Petrohilos
Good question. I feel like I like what I've done in the fitness industry. Here in Australia, I'm actually the educator of the year. I've been awarded the best fitness educator in Australia, which is pretty cool for me. It's the best in a continent.

To dominate a continent is pretty cool. I know there's only one country in the continent, but it sounds better that you've dominated a continent. That's really good and I also run the largest Facebook group in the world, The Fitness Professionals. There's 15,000 fitness professionals in there.

And it's like the business runs itself now. Well, it actually doesn't run itself. I've got staff that run it; I shouldn't say that. I've got a team that runs it. I've got some automation. There's about a million dollars a year without me having to be there.

Now, I'm pretty happy with that and I don't really want to go much deeper in that space. I'm going to have to obviously go a little bit deeper because if you're not growing you're dying, right? If I just do the same thing I'm doing now, in a couple years time, that business will be broke. So I need to still put some effort in there.

But now my passion is more around helping other course creators. I feel it's a bigger message for me. If I'm helping fitness professionals grow their fitness business or grow their fitness bootcamp, I can only help them so much because I only went so far in that space. That's pretty good.

My hook over there is I can teach you how to make six figures a year, working 60 minutes a day. Now, that's pretty good. People are pretty happy with that, but I know I've got a bigger skill set because I'm making a million dollars a year with my online courses.

I feel I'm selling myself short if I'm not teaching other people how to do that. If I'm just teaching people how to make six figures working 60 minutes a day, "Hey, I can teach you how to make a million dollars working just from your computer all day." So I want to focus more there.

And I want to do something similar like what I've done in the fitness space, where it's the largest Facebook group in the world for fitness professionals. And the Fitness Australia Educator of the Year; I want to bring that across somewhere in the course creator community space.

I don't know exactly what I'm going to sit in that space because a lot of people are doing similar stuff, but I know that I want to have the largest if not one of the largest communities in the world, not just Australia, one of the largest in the world for course creators.

And then also, not so much the recognition, but maybe it is a recognition. Something like over in the fitness world where it's like if you want to do some online courses to educate yourself as a personal trainer, go on The Fitness Education Online. I want to sort of be known as that. "I want to sell more courses. Great. I'm going to go to this course creator community website and get these courses because I know they're good."

So something about building the biggest community in the world in the space, but then also something about a little bit of money as well. I think the money would be nice. If it's like, "Great. I'm making a million over here and then also a million over here," that would be pretty cool.

But more than that, I feel like if I have that community and I provide a good service where I'm known as the go-to in this space, speaking at social media world and digital marketer and podcasts and that sort of thing there, that's sort of where I want to go.

Jeremy Deighan
Nice. That's awesome. Well, I would love to support you any way that I can. So for anyone who is listening to this podcast right now, where would be the best place for them to go find out more about you and your business?

Jono Petrohilos
The best place is definitely my Facebook group. Just go to Facebook and type in "the course creator community". I hope you can understand my Australian accent. We don't pronounce the letter "R" in Australia. It's funny when I'm speaking to Americans. They're like, What's that city in Australia?" I'm like, "Perth? Melbourne?" They're like "Melbourne?"

We don't say the"R". So when I say "course creator community", a lot of Americans are like, "What?" They think it's like a charity, like a cause. So "the course creator community". I think there's a few other names similar on Facebook, but join all of them. They're all good groups anyway but make sure you specifically join mine.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. Yours is amazing and Jono is very active in the group, always doing Facebook lives and just giving a bunch of tips and help. It's a great community so head over to The Course Creator Community.

Jono, you are amazing, man. Thank you for coming on the podcast today. I just wish you the best success going forward in the future. And I hope you get all of those dreams and aspirations that you're looking for.

Jono Petrohilos
Thank you, brother. Appreciate it.

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