Phil Ebiner Shares How He Has Scaled His Online Course Business to Massive Success

September 27, 2021
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In today’s episode, we have Phil Ebiner with us and he is going to share his story on how he has scaled his online course business to massive success.

You will also get to hear what you should be focusing on at the beginning of your online course journey, an amazing lead funnel strategy for capturing emails while building an engaged community, and productivity tips on how to grow your online business.

Website: VideoSchool.com
YouTube: videoschoolonline
Facebook: Phil Ebiner
Twitter: @PhilEbiner
Instagram: philebiner
LinkedIn: Phil Ebiner
Pinterest: @videoschoolonline

Notes

In this episode, you will hear...

… Phil’s story on how he has scaled his online course business to massive success.

… what you should be focusing on at the beginning of your online course journey.

… an amazing lead funnel strategy for capturing emails while building an engaged community.

… Phil’s helpful productivity tips on how to grow your online business. 

… the early days of Phil Ebiners online course creation.

… why Phil says that YouTube is the best marketing platform for course creators to gain an audience.

… why Phil advises beginner course creators to share their online courses on popular course marketplaces rather than using their own platform.

… Why it’s essential for course creators to build an audience before launching their online courses.

… the importance of being authentic and honest with your audience as a course creator. 

… how Phil grows his audience through an email list and challenges. 

… all about videoschool.com and everything that Phil offers his audience. 

… Phil’s tips on how course creators should figure out what to outsource at the beginning of their business journey.

Resources

Transcript

Jeremy Deighan
Hey, what's up everyone, thank you for listening to the show. Today I have a very special guest with me. Phil Ebiner from videoschool.com, who is just a father, great husband, great friend, amazing entrepreneur. We've been buddies for a long time, and I'm super excited to have you on the show and catch up. How are you doing?

Phil Ebiner
Jeremy, I'm so excited to be here today chatting with you to catch up on all things online business and fatherhood and everything else. Yeah, so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. And before we get into your story, if anyone is listening and unaware, Phil and I did a podcast, it's a brand and a podcast that he started and then had me come on and do a couple seasons co-hosting at the Online Course Masters. Is that still live right now?

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, you can find Online Course Masters, the podcast on pretty much any podcast player or app that you listen to. And that's probably the best place to get to it. Yeah, all those episodes, we got a ton.

I mean, I think we ended up with almost 100 episodes or so. And yeah, we got some really good stuff there that I'm sure your listeners would be interested in.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. Good interviews, good tips and tricks and a lot of good material there. So definitely go check that out. And I'll link all that up in the show notes. But for anyone who isn't familiar with you, and if you're making an online course and don't know who Phil Ebiner is, you might want to go check them out.

For anyone who doesn't know, just go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself. Like what were you doing before you got into online courses? And then how did you transition into this world?

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, it's crazy, because I feel like I started doing online courses a long time ago. And it actually has been a long time ago. Now, It's almost been 10 years since I created my first online course.

And this is before, I would say most people now started. And I was a couple years out of college, I had studied film and television production and was just doing the freelance thing trying to get full time jobs doing what I actually studied in and loved which was making videos and and media and trying to pay the bills that way.

But I was looking for ways to make money on the side just to help pay down my student loans and have some extra cash. And so I started my own businesses from wedding videography, to side film production.

And then I read about this whole quote on quote passive income thing online. And Pat Flynn like many of us, he was the first person I sort of started following and he was writing ebooks.

And my very first idea was to write an ebook about my experience as a film student. And it was going to be called "The Diary of A Film Student." And I actually got pretty far in writing that, I should actually go back and see where that draft is right now.

But at the same time, I heard about udemy.com, doing research for a job I was at for online education. And it was the first place that I saw that, really, anyone could teach an online course, anyone could just upload an online course and try to sell it.

And I thought, "Hey, this is kind of interesting. And I know how to record videos and record audio and edit it together." So I had that kind of leg up. And I put out my first course, October 2012. That was a video editing course. And I haven't looked back, I just kept creating courses.

I've taught everything that I could possibly know. And once I ran out of my own topics, I started partnering with other course creators and experts and related and semi related fields and started my own brand video school online, which was my first website and brand videoschoolonline.com.

And then in the past couple years, I was able to snag the video school comm URL. And I've transitioned to that being my main brand. And I've been doing this full time since 2015. And yeah, it's just continuing to grow ever since I started, it's been a tremendous ride.

Jeremy Deighan
After man, yeah, I've watched you grow and grow and grow. And I came in after you. But it's just been amazing to see the transformation of you as a person of your website. The course quality that you put out is just so awesome. It's just amazing to watch your courses.

So thinking about those early days, you know, I don't think even the general population nowadays even knows what an online course is. But obviously, the industry has grown. And there's more platforms, and there's better ways to sell your informational products.

But I mean, back in 2012 online courses, no one had heard about that. So what was those early days? Like when you first put up that first course?

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, I mean, and today, I asked people if they know what udemy.com is, and most people still don't know what Udemy is, even though they have like 40 or 50 million students now around the world.

But in those first days, it was good timing to get started, because most of these platforms are getting started. So there wasn't as much competition. So I really was able to just put out my course. And because there were so few courses on the platform, it started to get seen and started to make sales.

And at the time it was it was nothing compared to what it is now. But when I made $60 that very first month, and then $100 the second month from that course, it sparked that idea that this is a real possibility to make income online. And it was I would say pretty close to passive income at that point.

Of course, you have to update classes, manage students answer questions and that kind of thing to be successful. But it wasn't like I was trading my my time for an hourly wage. And that just proof of concept just was amazing for me, because I just then went gung ho with working.

I was working a full time job between 2012 and 2015. But after work on the weekends, I would just be putting together courses myself or with friends. And just putting all that effort in in the beginning helped because it helped me established a brand, helped me establish a student base where I could then promote my future courses to that base and automatically get sort of a little boost for any new course that I put out.

So today, it's harder because it's a more competitive field. There's so many courses out there, but the principles are still the same. You got to create a good online course.

Nowadays, I would say the difference is you need some kind of existing audience to promote your courses to so that you can launch a course, start promoting your courses, get a little bit of traction with those courses, reviews.

Those kinds of things that help your courses show up in the search results of really any platform that you're hosting your course on. And that's what will eventually lead to your success, I would say.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. We've talked about this a lot before that. Having that audience really helps platforms like Udemy see that conversions and that growth and then in turn, they start working on their end to help promote your courses.

But back in those early days, you had a little bit of the chance to be a first adopter and get some of your courses on there. And if people searched in a term, maybe they would find you and buy courses.

But were you doing any outside marketing during those early years? Did you have a website or a YouTube channel at that time?

Phil Ebiner
I tried it all. I mean, in the very, very first days and months, I was asking my friends to enroll in the class, I did start a YouTube channel really early on, I think in 2013, I launched the video school YouTube channel, and I started putting out tutorials on there, I started a website.

From the very beginning, I was doing that kind of marketing of just evergreen funnels, putting out blog articles with links to my classes. And some of those articles are still out there today and driving traffic to my courses.

And so yes, I tried that all. I did social media and everything. I think the most successful I've done with marketing from outside of the course platform has been my YouTube channel.

I have a few videos that I've put on YouTube that have driven 1000s of dollars of sales outside of Udemy into Udemy. And so for people, I'm sure your audience kind of knows the difference between marketing on a Udemy versus self hosting your classes.

It's a lot different trying to market your own course on your own platform than it is on a Udemy. With Udemy, you have your sort of world. Inside of Udemy you have your students and your classes and you can market to them.

But outside of Udemy, you have to do all the work of driving sales and, and students to any class through email marketing, or sequences or things like that. But yeah, from the beginning, always doing that kind of marketing nowadays, I kind of just depend on my existing student base.

And I don't do as much work on my YouTube channel as I used to, although I do still put out YouTube tutorials every month or so. And really now I'm just continuing to focus, go back to the basics and put out good quality courses, update old courses, and that kind of thing to keep everyone happy.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, awesome. And you have quite a few courses. And so I do want to get into a point where we can talk about your your production schedule, and how you're able to produce so much so well.

But first, let's answer that question. I know this is a popular topic. You know this is a popular topic.

If someone is new, and they're thinking about creating a course. And they hear that you can put it on a marketplace like Udemy that already has students, but takes a percentage of the revenue versus putting it on your own platform where you have more control of the revenue. But like you said, you have to do more marketing.

How would you guide that person? And when would you do one versus the other?

Phil Ebiner
Well, it kind of like I said, you if you're doing it off of Udemy, or a platform like Udemy, you're going to need a an audience. There's really no way that I see people being successful without an existing audience, whether that's a social media following, an email list, it doesn't have to be huge, but 100 people 1000 people that can get you started.

But you need some kind of following to host off of Udemy. I still think Udemy or places like Udemy, like Skillshare are great places to test the waters to put an online course and just see what happens and maybe see if you even like the process. I mean, it sounds glamorous and great to be able to say, "Oh, I put out an online course I'm making money online. And it's all passive."

But sometimes, and I've seen a lot of people who were very successful, get burnt out on it. And maybe that's because they went too hard with it. And I even had to take, you know, a step back from time to time to slow down, do other things as well.

But I think putting out a course on Udemy even if you put it out for free, it's a great way that you can start building your own audience on Udemy or off of you to me just by putting out a course for free seeing how that does and seeing if you like the process.

And I think probably the best way to get started from scratch right now I would say is put out that free course. Put out like a short one hour to two hour course on whatever you're most passionate about whatever your expertise is, and start to grow an audience there with some free students and then work on like a more premium course.

What you can do on Udemy, if you want to promote your next course, say, if you're following this sort of path is you can change that free course to a paid course. And then you can actually start promoting to those students.

So on Udemy, I know this is a little technical in the weeds. But if you have a free course you can't promote to them, you can't market to them. But say you put out a free course you get a few 100 students in there, and you change it to a paid course at a later time, you can market your next course to those students.

And I think that's a good way to get started. I also think YouTube is still the best place for online course creators to start a brand off of Udemy or off of whatever course platform you're on. Because it just has such a built in audience for people wanting to consume video content.

There's always been the debate of why would someone want to buy an online course when you can find everything for free on YouTube. And it's still true that people do want that premium content, they want the full course learning experience from an online course.

And it's just a very easy transition, I say easy. It's not that easy. But it's a natural transition from getting someone to watch a YouTube video to actually paying for an online course.

So if you're going to spend any time trying to grow your audience, on a platform, I would say YouTube today over something like blog articles, or social media, tik tok, that kind of thing. I think YouTube still is the best.

Jeremy Deighan
Nice, I like that. And I like your strategy of maybe creating a free course first, and seeing if you have any results, you know, if no one is interested in it, and even takes a free course, maybe that's not the path and you should choose something else.

Or like you said, if you get a couple 100 people enrolling, then you can say, "Okay, let's turn this to a paid product now," and start capturing revenue and being able to promote to those people. So I really like that strategy a lot.

Now, in the beginning, you know you want to create a course and you know, you don't have an audience, which one would you work on first? Would you build the audience for a while and then create a course? Or would you create the course to try to help build that audience?

Phil Ebiner
Hmm, that's a really good question. I think if I were starting, and I if I knew my goal was to create online courses, I would probably like I said, create sort of like a one hour to two hour basic course for whatever your topic you want to teach, and use that content to build your initial audience.

So you can take that free course you could put it on Udemy, you could put it on Skillshare, you could put it on all the different course platforms out there, you could even start a Teachable account, or a Thinkific, where you can build your own online school, put it there.

So eventually, you have more control of students and and those kinds of things. Use that content on YouTube, edit that content down for Instagram, for Instagram reels, for tik tok for anything, and just kind of use that content cross platform to grow your audience.

And I think that's probably a pretty good way to do it. You and I have both found a lot of success doing Facebook groups. And I think that idea of a community of like minded people is very powerful for any brand.

And so even starting a Facebook group, starting some kind of community where people can talk, interact, you can do free activities, or challenges or things like that. That's something that can really help you grow a brand and an audience to start out.

And then later on down the road, once you have, you know, 100 people following you, of course, you want to try to get all these people on your email list. I don't know if you want to talk about how we do that, or what tips or if you've talked about that a lot on other episodes.

But whenever you you're getting people's eyeballs on your content, the goal should be to get them on like an email list where you can communicate with them later on, and especially promote your products later on, if that's your actual end goal.

Jeremy Deighan
Something I've been talking a lot more to people in the past couple years is to have content, you know, some kind of content that you're publishing so people can see that you have the knowledge.

Like you said, a YouTube channel where you're providing value and you're helping people out and then having that community where you're getting more direct feedback from people because you know, YouTube you have comments and it's great. You can read what people say about your videos.

But having that interaction in like a Facebook group is just amazing. Because you can ask people right then and there, what do they think about something or you can have them review a part of your course or your video. So I definitely think those two are important.

So let's talk a little bit about the sales funnel strategy. So we have a course and you said YouTube is important. And then you said building an email list is important. So I know the general connection of these points.

But tell us in your words, if someone, say, wanted to replicate what you're talking about, let's do a YouTube channel, because it makes sense video to a video course. And we're gonna have a course on a platform. And then we want to collect emails. Briefly, give us your description of how you would set that up.

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, and I will do that, but one thing I kind of want just say is through everything, you got to be authentic. You've got to be authentic about actually wanting to help people. I think people can see right through marketers who are just trying to sell knowledge because they want to make money from it.

So when you're starting out, and when you're putting out videos on YouTube, or doing social media, if you're going into other people's Facebook groups, where it's about a topic that you're teaching, and you're trying to like get people onto your group or, or sell a product or share your YouTube video, it's clear when someone's trying to just market the selves, right?

So whatever you do, when you're starting, you just gotta give, give, give, give. Create high quality content that is freely available to people and people will then see that they will appreciate it. And ultimately, we'll do the next step of like signing up for an email list or clicking to your YouTube channel or clicking to your website. So that's just like, overall, everything just be authentic and honest with people.

In terms of an email funnel. So here's one that's working really well, for me right now, it's gonna look a little different, because I already have a Facebook group with a group of students or a community, I call this my community. But I have a Facebook group for beginner photographers, because that's what a lot of my courses are on, photography.

And so I'll send my students of my photography courses into this community. And that's who it's for, it's for my existing students. But if you're getting started out, I would create a Facebook group. Or you could create a community on another platform if you want like using mighty networks or something like that.

But if you do that, then you're doing extra work having to get someone to get on that platform or to get into your own community. So I feel like Facebook groups are still a pretty good way to get started. Because people are already on Facebook, people are already looking for communities of things they're interested in.

But in this group every week, what we do is a weekly photography challenge. So every Monday we prompt our students say, hey, go out. This week's is take a photo using natural light.

Last week's was take a photo capturing motion blur. And so we post it on our Facebook group. And then every week students post their photos, we pick our top favorite photos, and the following week, we'll share them on our social media.

Part of the reason we do this is just to keep students happy to keep them engaged in the class, to give them sort of extra things or activities to do outside of the online course content.

But the other reason we do this, or the benefit of it is to get people onto our email list. Because we have this weekly challenge set up and we say, "Hey," every time we post this, we say, "Hey, do you want to get reminders of this weekly challenge to your email inbox?" And they can go sign up, and then every Monday they're going to get an email for us.

We also have this on we have a sub website or a niche website for this brand called photographyandfriends.com. This is probably the best sort of example of what I'm doing for just typical content marketing right now. So if you get a photography and friends calm, it's specific to photography, we have guides, we do a couple podcasts, we do coaching, we do all kinds of things on this website.

But there's a link at the top that says "free weekly challenge." And so if you're not a student, or if you're not a member of our community, you can still sign up and get the weekly challenge email. And so there I get their email address, they're on my list.

So at a future time, I can send them a promotion for when we launch a new photography course, for example. But also because one aspect of this Facebook group or the challenges is that you have to be a student and you have to be in the group to actually participate yourself.

It incentivizes people who come to my website who aren't a student, but they want to do these challenges. They sign up for the email list and then they they see okay, "Well I have to be a student to join the group. So it costs 10 bucks to join a course on Udemy and I can do that."

And from there, they're now in our system, right? I have their email address, they're a student. And they're just kind of like locked in now as a an existing student that, as I found, like, that's my best audience for promoting a new course to or a future promotion or doing coaching or things like that.

So that's one thing that's working for us really well is the free sort of weekly challenge idea. And you could take this, and you could do it for anything. It doesn't have to be photography, but whatever topic you're teaching, you can create some sort of free challenge.

And we also post this to social media as well. So anybody in the world can see what we're doing, can see the challenges, but to actually participate, you have to be a student. So, it's simple. But yeah, I'd say it's a pretty simple way to do this.

I mean, I have also more direct ways to get people on my email list. Like, I have tutorials on YouTube. And then I just have a link that says, "Hey, join, join our email list for updates," or things like that.

But the weekly challenges works really well for us the conversion rate on that page is really high. I'm gonna look it up right now, while you I let you respond or ask any follow up questions.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, that's an amazing method you have I haven't heard anyone describe this before. So this is really cool.

And what I like about it is it doesn't seem like it would be very complicated to set up. You know, a lot of lead magnets and ways to capture people's email list can be very convoluted sometimes, and you have funnels and different landing pages and all this stuff.

But this sounds like it's pretty straightforward, because it's just people signing up to do a challenge you have your emails that you're sending out to them to remind them of the challenge. And then it's kind of filtering the group and the course in the emails all in one place, which I think's amazing.

When you're doing the challenges, and you said that people have to be a student to participate. How are you verifying that? And then how are they participating? Do you have like a special form that you send them? Or how do you go about doing that for the students?

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, and that's a good question. And I would say, actually, when you're starting out, you don't need to have that requirement. Because the way that we do it is with our Facebook group, people have to actually put in like the secret password that they get once they're enrolled in our class, when they're answering the questions to join a Facebook group.

And so if they don't know that secret word, then they don't get access to the group. And so each week, there's a specific post that we pinned to the top of the Facebook group, where people officially participate in that challenge.

So are there ways of people to get into the group without actually being students? I'm sure, I'm sure that that secret word or password is floating around the internet somewhere and people can get access to it. I'm not too concerned about that.

And if I was getting started, I would actually just, your Facebook group, I would have it open to anyone, I wouldn't just limit it to people who are existing students, because you don't have any students, right?

So you're just getting started and say you want to start a course about mountain biking, something that I've been getting into, and you want to start a Facebook group or a community about mountain biking, you're not going to limit it to students, existing students, you're just going to create a group for mountain bikers, beginners.

And maybe you post a challenge every week to you know, take a photo of the route that you wrote that week, or a photo from a ride or something like that. And you can have them post it to that specific post in your group or something like that.

But I wouldn't limit it when you're starting out to just existing students. Or you could I mean, you could do it where you could have an email opt in for the challenge, and only people who opt in to your email list, get the challenge or get access to your group. I mean, that could be something.

People need to know have a reason to sign up, though. So what I would be doing is the posting other students or followers or community members posting their challenge results or their challenge answers to social media to Instagram or Facebook.

So people see, "Okay, well, these people are having fun taking part in this. So I want to do this." And that gives them the incentive to actually sign up for the emails or for access. It depends on how restrictive you want to be.

Because if you just leave it as a free for all and anybody can join and participate, that's probably the best way to grow your audience the fastest. But is it going to be the highest quality audience? Probably not.

You could try it out test it out. If you're not growing, if you're limiting it to only People who sign up for an email list then if it's working great if it's not, maybe you just open it up. And just I'm looking at the conversion rate for the opt in form.

So people who've click on that free challenge form on our website, or get to that page from like a social media post, it's a 37% conversion rate of people who go to that page and sign up for the free challenge which is pretty awesome.

I mean, compared to just my home page for the people that just end up on videoschool.com, and I have a generic opt in form for a newsletter, the conversion rates, like point 5%, which I'm sure I could do a bunch of work on.

And then I can compare that to other blog articles or pages where I have perhaps a more specific lead magnet geared to that audience. And I have, it ranges between like three and 10%, or something. But that photo challenge page, it's like, crazy conversion rate.

And like you said, it can be very simple. I think I complicated it a little bit, because we're doing it weekly, but I create it. And so you can just do like a five week challenge or something.

But there's something about the way that I'm doing it, where it's like a new challenge every week. And everyone's doing it together. That's different than setting up like a five week challenge where like people are taking the challenge and doing it at a different time.

So I think there's something special about everyone doing the same challenge every week together. But we create a whole year's worth of challenges. We have 52 challenges.

I took the time actually, I had an assistant helped me this time. But if I was starting out, I would have to do it myself of scheduling out emails for 52 weeks for scheduling out social media posts for all those weeks. And but now it's all automated.

So the social media posts go out, the emails go out. And all we have to do is pick our favorite photos every week and share those on social media The following week. Yeah, this

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, this is awesome. I mean, talk about building a community if, you know, a five day challenge is very, you know, here today gone tomorrow. So yeah, you come in, and you might have a nice, you know, group of people that come in and do your five day challenge.

But then that following week, everyone's just kind of back to business as usual. Were here, it seems like people would be more engaged and interactive. Facebook's algorithm is going to see that people are posting in the group and commenting and doing things every week.

So I think that that's going to help engagement with your Facebook algorithms, you're able to constantly be in the forefront of people. Because if you're sending out emails to remind people about the challenge or to sign up for the challenge, then you're always always kind of showing your business and brand.

So yeah, I think this is just a genius way to go about it. So thanks for those tips on this challenge. I'll definitely look into this myself and have to check out what you got.

So let's talk about just for a moment. Let's talk about videoschool.com. You mentioned earlier that you had started on Udemy business was growing and then you started videoschool.com.

So just take a moment and let us know about that business. What is that business? What do you do on that website? And how do you help people there?

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, so I always thought it was probably a good idea to have my courses or my brand on a different platform than something like Udemy. So somewhere where I have more control if you to me disappeared, I would still have my brand.

And specifically I'm using Teachable to host my courses. So I have videos google.com and then I have like a sub website, courses.videoschool.com which is where my actual courses are hosted.

But I always had in the back of my mind that I should be selling my courses on my own platform as well as a separate stream of income. I had more control over everything from payment processing to communication with students.

The challenge has always been, "Well, how do I market my courses when it's the same course on all these different platforms?" And for a while I sort of gave the I sort of gave students have the option of, "Well, you can buy it on Udemy or on videoschool.com and just get the same course for about the same price." And there's that.

But I needed to differentiate myself enough or more to have success. So what I've done for probably the past five years or so is with videoschoo.com, it's a membership site so you get access to all of our courses.

For one monthly price, it's $12. Currently, you could also pay for a year or life time, which is pretty awesome because students find value in the lifetime option because they get lifetime access to all of our courses and all of our future courses that we put on video school.

I feel like it's awesome for me too, because the lifetime value of that customer, when they purchase the option is so much higher than what I typically get from a customer buying courses on a platform like Udemy individually for me.

So I feel like it's kind of win win for everybody. And I don't market that like crazy, I still, when I launch a course, I'm still promoting the course on Udemy. People are gonna think I'm crazy for doing that. But I still market my courses on Udemy.

Because I find that the machine that Udemy is works well. And it works, definitely well if you have an existing audience on there. And if you can drive that initial traffic and start ranking your courses on Udemy, then that course is gonna do really well. And for a very low sort of cost, like I don't have to market a lot of my courses on Udemy.

Because they just rank well after I've started to promote them and, and I do that promotion myself. But that being said, it's nice to have the second sort of stream of income on my own platform. And right now I have almost 700 members right now. And they have either purchase one of my options monthly yearly or lifetime membership. And that continues to grow.

And, of course monthly recurring revenue is is really nice, too. So, yeah, just my own brand. And I have a little bit more control over it. And I would highly recommend it. But a membership site is only going to work if you have something special to offer your students.

And I think what separates me or makes it special is that I have so many courses. So we have over 100 courses now. So that makes sense for someone who wants to pay $12 a month to get all those courses.

But if you only have like one course, or two or three courses, a memberships not going to work unless you're giving something else of value, like office hours or one on one coaching or something else that you're providing on a monthly basis. Because otherwise no one's gonna stay with your membership for too long after they've taken the course.

Jeremy Deighan
I know that for you personally, you are constantly producing new courses and you're updating your courses. And so you keep the engagement on that site for that membership site, like you said for people to want to come back and stay.

And I mean, if someone bought the lifetime membership to go through 100 courses, I don't even know then make it in a lifetime. That's a lot of information.

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, yeah.

Jeremy Deighan
So I wanted to ask you, that's a good segue, because earlier in the episode I mentioned, I wanted to ask you about your production schedule. Now I know, you know, having a family it's probably not as robust as it was 5, 6, 7 years ago.

But you are very good about being on top of creating new courses, creating content, being in the market doing these challenges.

So how are you able to perform like that? What are some tips tricks or anything that someone listening could implement that would help them just create, you know, good quality content on a consistent basis?

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, and to be honest, I think before I had kids, which was three plus years ago, I had a lot more time to do all of this myself. And I use that time looking back wisely by putting all the effort into establishing the the website, the brand, a lot of my core courses, which now I just have to update every few years or maybe yearly with little videos here and there.

Like my best selling courses are a lot of my Adobe courses, Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop, those kinds of courses. And so nowadays, after and I think everyone can do this and you can start relatively early on, I have invested in additional help.

So I have an editor who helps edit my classes for me. I have an assistant who helps answer questions for me. I have another assistant who helps doing just sort of like menial busy work office work.

I'm sure you would agree if you're doing this yourself that sometimes it feels like as a course creator, all we're doing is like, copying and pasting text or clicking buttons on all these different websites.

And so there's times where I've found myself like, "Why am I spending eight hours of my day just like, uploading content when I could train someone to do this for me?" And to be honest, it took me a lot longer than it should have to actually figure out how to do that.

But the easiest way to do that, for me anyways, was just going on upwork.com. And I still use upwork.com to hire most of my helpers. And yeah, I just have people helping I had like, right now before we got hopped on this call, I emailed someone who's editing my an update to my Premiere Pro course.

I message my assistant who's going to copy a course that's on Udemy. It's about to launch on productivity. And they're going to copy that content onto my video school platform. So that I don't have to do that.

I emailed another assistant, who she specifically does creates workbooks for me, she's been amazing. She goes through my classes, and she takes the whole course. And she condenses it down into sort of like a PDF, workbook guide kind of thing. And that's super helpful. The students students love it.

So I'm paying it's like an extra thing that I pay for. But I think it's a return on investment. That's great, because students love it love the courses leave probably higher reviews because they get this.

And so I emailed her to start working on another thing for me. And so I think that's how I do it now is that I have outsourced things. I also have cut down on things, you know, speaking of Online Course Masters, our podcast that we co hosted for a couple years.

I started that several years ago. And it was great because I loved doing what you're doing now. I loved connecting with other course creators sharing knowledge and tips with new course creators.

But at the end of the day, it became sort of just a burden to have to maintain that. I had started the Online Course Masterswebsite, and then you helped me sort of revamp that into sort of a premium product.

But honestly, at the end of the day, it felt like just a extra weight on my shoulders to try to maintain that. And so a year or so ago, I basically told myself, "It's okay." I gave myself permission to to let that go. I got rid of the website. And I basically leave the podcasts up because people can find value in that I actually moved it from Lipson to Anchor which is free.

So I'm not paying a monthly fee to just host that podcast. And so it lives but I just don't have to do that anymore. So I think it's been a combination of like saying no to things, there's so many things that you could spend your time doing.

I could spend my time trying to figure out Tik Tok, and Instagram Reels. But I'm not doing that. And I'm just kind of going back to the basics of creating courses and updating courses, which is what it's always been about, and what's always made me successful.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, it's that 80-20 Rule. I mean, you've you've found what's working for you. You found that YouTube works for you found that email marketing has worked for you and your Facebook group and your courses. And you're going all in on that.

And I've noticed I mean, I know we don't talk so much lately, but I've noticed your growth and video school because I've seen those changes. I've seen you, you know, update the websites and do different things in that platform.

I see your promotional emails coming out. So you're just doubling down on what's working. And I think it's brilliant. Just a funny little side note, I am paying someone to edit the podcast episodes, because it's the same thing.

Like I love editing. But at the end of the day, is it the best use of my time? No, it's not because it's very time consuming. And there's people who can do it probably faster and better than me anyway, so why not get those people?

So I was uploading the episodes to Google Drive. And I would download them from Squadcast and then upload them to Google Drive. And then he would come in and download them from Google Drive and then edit them and re upload them.

And I'm like, "Wait a minute, this is ridiculous." Like, we are wasting so much time downloading and uploading. Why don't you just log into Squadast and grab the file.

So, I think you make a good point. You know, it's about finding where things are slowing you down, where there's processes that you can cut out, get rid of, and really drilling down on the things that are really going to give you the most return. So I think that's awesome.

Phil Ebiner
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I did a presentation at the last Udemy live that happened and Udemy live, what was it 2015? Was that when we met? 2015, 2016, something like that up in San Francisco.

But the last one that was live was in Berlin, and I did a presentation on sort of like productivity. And the whole thing was just about being more efficient and saying no to things, outsourcing things, automating things as well, using tools to automate social media is also a game changer.

Because like you said, yeah, you might see what I'm doing on social media with video school now and think, "Oh, wow, Phil's doing a lot." But most of that's just automated in the background.

And so all those things can be done to be able to help you spend less time doing all the extra stuff and focus on what works best, which for me, is just creating the courses, updating courses, and, and that kind of thing.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. So a couple quick, more questions, and then we'll wrap it up. Real quick.

First question I have for you is, when let's say that someone's getting to that point where they know that they need to be outsourcing something because they don't have as much time, and they feel like they could get back some of that time to create more content If they did outsource.

What would you recommend to be the way that someone figures out what they want to outsource first, because you know, in the beginning, you don't have a lot of capital, you don't have a lot of money to work with. And you can outsource all kinds of things.

How do you figure out what you should outsource In the beginning?

Phil Ebiner
I mean, what I would like to say is think about the thing that you don't enjoy the most, and outsource that. Like for me, I've always loved editing, which is sort of the opposite of a lot of people. But that's my background. And so I like editing my videos, I like doing that.

And I've eventually I've outsourced some of that. But that was one of the last things I outsourced. The first thing that I outsourced was answering student questions. And that was just because I was getting the same questions over and over. And I realized that, "Well, if someone else could answer these questions for me, it would free up so much of my time."

Because that I was probably spending about half of my time doing that. And then, like you said, thinking about the 80-20 Rule, I realized that answering questions, while it keeps students happy, it's not going to help grow my business as much as the 20% that does, which is creating content, creating new courses and that kind of thing.

So for me, I would just think about, like, what is something that you don't like doing? I think there's also stages though, like social media, for example, that's something that I would outsource in a heartbeat if you don't like it. But is that necessary to growing your business in the very beginning, probably not like investing in creating more courses or more video content is probably a better use of your time and money.

So if that means hiring an editor, and again on upwork.com, you can find editors around the world that you can pay a better wage. And especially for those of us that live in a place like the United States where we make enough money to be able to pay, or hopefully make enough money to pay someone else a decent wage to help.

But having someone edit your videos for you that will free up so much time for you to just record more videos and record more content. So I think it's kind of a balance. Think about what you don't like doing and outsource that so that you could focus your time on what you you're enjoying.

But then also think about the things that are actually a good return on your investment, like actual production of content. I mean, that's something I did early on to was I was writing all of my articles.

But then there was a period where I had outsourced like price 50 or so articles that ended up on video school sweb site about photography. And that was really awesome, because those were all little evergreen funnels that helped grow my website, and I had outsourced that.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, brilliant. That's awesome. And finally, just where do you see yourself going forward in the future, like you said, it's almost been 10 years now since you started down this rabbit hole. And you've grown in a lot of ways. And I know you're doing some great things with VideoSchool.

But where would you like to take your business and say the next five or 10 years?

Phil Ebiner
Well, as I've always said is I just hope that this all exists in 5-10 years, I think I have more confidence than ever that this is going to exist. I always used to think, "Oh, this has been a good run, but maybe Udemy or or these other platforms are going to disappear in the next couple years because that's how these new tech companies see it seems to come and go."

But I have a lot of confidence in Udemy. And also just in the idea of creating online courses for the long run. I honestly am enjoying just going back to the basics of creating courses and updating courses to give students the best experience possible.

I've also found a lot of appreciation in the community aspect. And so the only community I'm really running right now is for our photography students. But that gives me the most excitement. And I'm so happy to see students posting the photos that they can take now after taking our courses.

So even expanding that to some extent of like, even more one on one interactions with students. And I've just thought about, like, "How can we take this to the next level? How can we take what we're doing with online courses and continue to make the world a better place?"

Like right now I find a lot of joy and thinking, well, I've taught people skills, and now they're out taking beautiful photos, they're out editing their own videos, and that kind of thing, starting their own businesses. And I think that could be enough to say, Okay, I look back and say, "Okay, I'm happy with what I did with my life."

But I also find that I wonder, "What can we do even more? How can I harness the power of all the students that I've taught now who are part of my community? And what can we do? What can we do to make the world a better place? What can we do with our skills now?"

And I haven't really found that, but it's something that I've been interested in. So if anyone listening has an idea for how we can use 1000s of photographers around the world, to to make this place a better better place, then shoot your ideas at me, you can message me on Instagram at Philip Ebiner, and I'd be happy to hear your thoughts.

Jeremy Deighan
Brilliant. Well, other than Instagram, where else can people find out more about you and what you're doing online?

Phil Ebiner
Well, the best place is like you've mentioned my brand, videoschool.com to just see my courses to see how my funnels are set up. I also mentioned photographyandfriends.com, that's another great place to see sort of a typical content based website.

And another thing just to if you're interested in more about me personally, and what I'm passionate about, I started my own personal YouTube channel to just be able to do things that are completely fun, completely, just not related to online courses.

So if you look for the Phil Ebiner YouTube channel, you can find a couple fun videos that I've done about just passions of mine, baking bread, different things. And so that's been a sort of a fun outlet over the past several months or so just being able to have that extra space there to put out fun content.

And then you could also find Video Schools YouTube channel, at videoschool on YouTube as well. So any of those places are good. And, yeah.

Hopefully, I've helped. And I'm always open to answering questions or helping people out if you send me a message.

Jeremy Deighan
Awesome. Well, Phil Ebiner, this has been great. And it's good catching up with you, and just hearing how your business is going. You've been a major inspiration and a good friend and a good teacher to me personally.

I know you've helped, you know, hundreds of 1000s of people out there with different skills and techniques. And I still get messages and reviews on our courses that we did together that people are still finding value in those things.

So just thank you so much for your time today for everything that you're doing and just keep at it and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you.

Phil Ebiner
Thanks, Jeremy. Happy to be on and everyone have a beautiful day as I always say. Bye.

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