Using Pinterest Growth Strategies for Online Courses with Designer Nicki Traikos

January 4, 2021
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In today’s episode, we have Nicki Traikos who is a professional designer that uses Pinterest and other social media platforms to sell courses on art, calligraphy, and watercolor.

You will also get to hear her journey from a physical printing business to online courses, how she finds both active and passive income streams, and some super ninja Pinterest hacks to get more people to your own online course.

Website: lifeidesign.com
YouTube: Nicki Traikos
Facebook: lifeidesign
Tumblr: lifeidesign
Instagram: lifeidesign
LinkedIn: nickitraikos
Pinterest: nickitraikos

Notes

In this episode, you will hear...

… Nicki Traikos inspiring journey from a 9 to 5 corporate job to starting a successful online business.

… how Nicki followed her passion and creativity to start a fulfilling work-from-home career.

… the steps Nicki took to transition her offline design business to a 100% online business. 

… how Nicki leveraged her uniqueness and passion to stand out in a saturated design industry.

… the costly rookie mistake Nicki made when she first started her online business.

… why networking and building a following through social media is critical to the long-term success of online business.

… how to create multiple passive income streams through your online business.

… why self-hosting your courses is absolutely important in a constantly changing online environment. 

… the winning marketing and lead generation strategy Nicki used to drive traffic to her self-hosted online courses.

… how Nicki creates quality, engaging video content that draws a wide audience using just her phone.

… the 3 clever tips you can use to create pins that stand out on Pinterest and drive traffic to your site.

… Nicki’s advice for beginners on how to start simple and improve as you go through continuous learning and improvement.

Resources

Transcript

Jeremy Deighan
Hello, everyone. Thanks for checking out the podcast today. I am with Nicki Traikos, who is going to tell us about her awesome course experiences. How are you doing today, Nicki?

Nicki Traikos
I'm great, Jeremy. Thanks so much for having me.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. I'm excited that you are here. Thank you for giving us your time. I was on your site earlier and I was looking at the courses that you have on calligraphy and some different things. First of all, your site looks amazing.

Nicki Traikos
Oh, thank you. I always feel like it's a work in progress.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. Oh, and it always will be, that's for sure. But it looks absolutely beautiful. And I love when people have a strong graphic design background because that's where I come from. So when I see a beautiful site like that, I'm like, "Oh, yay, this is great."

Nicki Traikos
Oh, thank you for that.

Jeremy Deighan
Cool. Well, let's go ahead and get started. I always like to start off and just hear where people came from and the beginning of their journey. So if you could just take a couple of moments and tell us maybe what you were doing before you got into online business? And then how did you get into online business and online courses?

Nicki Traikos
Sure. It's a bit of an interesting story. My background is corporate real estate. And I've always been artistic. But a few years ago, when I graduated university, and I'm talking quite a few years ago, there wasn't a lot of opportunity to follow an artistic path and to make money from it.

So I was getting married; we had just bought a house. And instead of following my artistic desires, I graduated from university, fell into corporate real estate, and basically started my married life. But there has always been a yearning to express my creative, artistic side.

So when I was trying to get pregnant with my first, I decided to enroll in a makeup course, and that allowed me to express my creativity. My canvases were people's faces. And it was an amazing experience.

So I did that for about 13 years and raised my babies, and really enjoyed a long creative career in makeup artistry. And then I got to the point where I was giving up a lot of my weekends. I did weddings, primarily, which were early morning starts in the summer season.

So I was away from home a lot when I wanted to be with my family. I did some television and photography work where, again, it was long days on set. So I decided to take a bit of a sabbatical. And that's when online courses were starting to become popular.

And I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to just follow a life where I designed how I spent my time, and I could do so with my art and creativity?" And I did.

I took a six-month sabbatical from everything other than, of course, staying home and taking care of my kids. And I dove into a few online classes where I learned how to create my website and do some graphic design and even took some art classes.

So Life I Design was born in 2012, with the intention of not really knowing exactly what I wanted to do with building an online business or an art business at that, but I wanted to dedicate my time and my focus on creating an income and a living from my art and doing it solely online.

Jeremy Deighan
Very cool. So, the Life I Design, when you first created that website, what kind of things were you putting on there? Were you blogging or what kind of content were you adding to the site?

Nicki Traikos
At that time, blogging was quite popular, thinking back to 2012. So when I started the website, I wanted it to serve two purposes: to host the blog where I could inspire others to also live a life that they designed, whether it was through creativity, self-expression. And then I wanted it to host some art prints.

I thought I would start with creating art prints that people could purchase, sort of cheaper in cost so that they could change up their environment. I'm big on just having a home space that was really inspiring and that spoke to me.

So the website served two purposes. It was a platform where I could share my voice and my story and also sell my artwork. And that's when I had more of an online print shop.

So I printed quite a few things from home actually, where I set up greeting card printing, also wall art. I had a sublimation printing machine where I printed my art on coffee mugs. So I would print, fill orders, and ship, basically.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. And you were doing this all out of your house?

Nicki Traikos
All out of my house. I have a beautiful home studio that I'm very lucky to work out of. It allowed me to be at home when the kids came home from school and still allowed me to create an income and create products, which was very cool.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, that's awesome. It's very similar to me because I started out screen printing. And I was screen printing out of my home and doing the same thing - creating the products and sending them out. So that's really cool to hear that story.

Nicki Traikos
I did the same, actually. I printed on tea towels. That was a big thing. My sassy lettering, calligraphy was something that I fell in love with a few years after. Yeah, I would screenprint in my basement. And yeah, I can relate.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. So you took some classes, you learned these skills, you got a site up, you're producing content, and then you also start printing. How did that transition into creating your own online course?

Nicki Traikos
Well, that's a good one. I realized I was spending more time at home making products and going to the post office and shipping that I thought, "I really want some time and space freedom."

My husband was traveling quite a bit for work, our kids were getting older. And I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to have an online business where I can work from anywhere? I just needed my laptop, maybe my sketchbook, and some art supplies. And what would that look like?"

So what would I have to let go of? And what would I have to introduce into my business? So I decided to shut down the print shop. And I have been using print-on-demand sites. So I've changed the way that I create revenue from that part of my business.

But then I started teaching in-person workshops. So calligraphy and lettering were getting really popular a few years ago. And I was, just by chance, invited to teach in an in-person workshop, and did that for I guess about a year to 18 months. And it burnt me out.

I was in demand, which was fantastic. My workshops were selling out all over. I would teach in small boutique stores. So it was a really great community and a great way to connect with small businesses.

But it was just creating too much demand physically and on my time. And it was taking me away from my goal of creating just 100% digital business. So I decided to take a leap and teach my first online class. I had no idea what I was doing. But with the help of YouTube, Googling, and some Skillshare classes, I figured out how I could produce my own online class.

And Skillshare was a platform that I learned a lot of my creative skills from. And it was a platform that I loved being a student on. So I thought, "What a great way to give back to the community and to become a teacher on Skillshare?" So that was my first introduction to online classes and being an online instructor.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, very cool. Yeah, Skillshare is a very popular platform. And definitely in the design world, it's super popular. So what was that first course that you published?

Nicki Traikos
It was an Intro to Modern Calligraphy Using a Dip Pen and Ink. It was a saturated industry, I would say for sure, and a saturated topic on Skillshare. However, Skillshare enjoyed my class and they decided to feature it. So I was able to have some success right away.

What I didn't do, and this is something in marketing that we all have regrets, Jeremy, I didn't jump on the Instagram bandwagon as well as I should have. Being a creative, I've got a bit of a creative monkey brain. So I'm always changing focuses and I didn't necessarily do things the way I should have.

So while I was on Skillshare for about five years, I didn't grow a following. I didn't network on the platform, and that's something that I recommend anyone does if they're looking to be a teacher on Skillshare. Because the more followers you have and the more impact you can offer on the platform, you get rewarded.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely. It's very important. I always tell people to start creating those audiences and students outside of these platforms so that you can always talk to them later on.

So you produce your course, and it has a really good success. And then I know on Skillshare, like me personally because I've been on the platform myself, I started producing more courses right away. Is that the strategy that you did? Or did you just focus on the one course?

Nicki Traikos
Yeah. So I'm all about creating passive and active income streams and making sure that I have a nice diverse range of revenue. So I thought, "Wouldn't it be great to continue to create these small classes for Skillshare and maybe earn a few 1,000 extra a month with these classes?"

Like I said, I enjoyed the platform. I think Skillshare is great as a student, and I was learning how to use it as a teacher. So then the frustrating experiences started to happen. If you don't have a big following or if your course doesn't have X amount of students right from launch, your course doesn't trend and it gets hidden.

Again, because I'm in an industry that's very saturated or a topic that's very saturated, finding that momentum within the platform was a little bit tough. And then just the way that Skillshare pays the teachers based on how many minutes watched your courses have or even the season of the year, I started to have mixed emotions about being a teacher on the platform.

So to this day, I probably have about seven or nine classes on the platform. And it's something that has been great for adding a little bit of extra revenue stream, but I wouldn't recommend solely relying on it as a single income stream. So what I decided to do was take charge of the classes that I was creating and decided to host on my own platform.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. I've been there with Skillshare. And it seems like in the beginning, it was easier to get those classes to trend. And then they must have made a change at some point because I really struggled.

Nicki Traikos
How long have you been teaching on the platform, Jeremy?

Jeremy Deighan
I've been doing online courses for about six years. So Skillshare, I probably started about four to five years ago.

Nicki Traikos
Okay. Yeah, I'm sure you've seen it change big time since then.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah. You used to be able to put up a course and have a really good chance of getting it up there at the top. I'm also in the design industry, which is like you said, very saturated. And over time, it does become very difficult.

So you decided to put your course on your own platform. Did you try any of the other platforms? Did you try Udemy, or Lynda, Pluralsight, any of those other ones?

Nicki Traikos
I am on Udemy as well. I've taken a course on Udemy, just one course and that was a few years ago, and enjoyed the content and thought I got good value. So someone else in our Skillshare group has really great success with Udemy. So I thought, "Why not give it a try?"

Again, you're at the mercy of how they run their courses and businesses. So I feel like it's a completely different group of students on Udemy. And my classes do well when they run an extreme discount. So I kind of think of it as the $9.99 course.

So you're giving a lot of value. And again, looking at the revenue, it's not something that you could live off of unless you're focusing 100%, had a really big following, and didn't have any other means of making an income. I could see the potential there.

But again, it didn't sit right. I knew that the information that I was delivering was really good quality and that I was offering a lot of content. And I knew that the potential to earn income would be better if I self-hosted. And then I could nurture my community of students better as well.

I just found it was more personal. So although I do have classes on Udemy, I would suggest, personally, I prefer Skillshare over you to me for the type of students that Skillshare attracts. I'm not a huge fan of Udemy. Sorry, Udemy. I love you.

Jeremy Deighan
No, it's good to know. It's good to talk about the different platforms because they all have their pros and cons, right? Some are better at some things than others.

So you've realized that being on these platforms might not be the most beneficial for you based on the pricing structure, how much control you have. And so you decide to host on your own platform. Now, how did that process look? Where did you host your course? What was it like getting your course or courses set up on your own platform?

Nicki Traikos
Yeah, so I did some research. I started listening to podcasts that would give me information that I needed in terms of what self-hosting platforms should I be looking at and what the benefits and features were. So with some research, I started off with, I think, Teachable and Thinkific.

I just did their free trials and looked at their back end. So what it was like to actually upload my content, how to structure my courses, what it looked like from the user's perspective or the student's perspective, and decided to go with Thinkific.

And I think two reasons were: the interface at the time was simple enough for me to use. So I don't have a technology background. I've been self-taught pretty much my entire business. So I feel like I'm savvy when it comes to software programs and in using things, like I started with WordPress, and could do a bit of coding.

So I do have a little bit of knowledge but I'm still challenged in a lot of ways. And Thinkific just offered a more simple system. And I like that they're Canadians; they're based out of Vancouver. So I thought, "Yeah, it will support the Canadians." And they're pretty innovative in terms of integrations that they're offering and widgets and things like that.

So, initially, I uploaded the courses that I originally created for Skillshare to learn a little bit more about how I needed to deliver my content on a self-hosted site, and what it meant from a marketing perspective.

The benefit of being on Skillshare and even Udemy is you have an active audience that you can tap into. When you're self-hosting, you need to then work on your SEO and driving traffic, and getting the students and your ideal customer to come to your site. So yeah. Did I answer that?

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, no, that sounds good. So you went with Thinkific; you got your courses out there. Let's talk about what you just said because that is the biggest driver of someone going to a third-party marketplace like Udemy or Skillshare versus self-hosting is the benefit of there's already students, there's already a platform.

You can just post your course up, and then people are going to flood your course and you're going to make a million dollars, which we know is not true. So let's talk about the marketing strategies when you're on your own platform because I know this is going to be a big question for people. Once you get your course up there, what are you doing to get people to that course?

Nicki Traikos
Sure. My marketing strategy from when I started self-hosting online classes to today, in fact, has changed quite a bit. I've learned. I've taken, again, online classes to help me with my own online courses and be able to deliver them and market them.

And I'm finding that just in today's day where social media can be a little bit more challenging, again, if you don't have a big following and with the algorithms, I have a varieties of ways that I market now.

Of course, I've built up my own email list. That's huge. I kind of have a behind-the-scenes private creative library. It was mostly focused on lettering and calligraphy. But in that creative library, I have some practice sheets, some iPhone wall art that people can download and save to their phones, and just direct access to any YouTube video tutorials.

So any free tools that I can offer to my subscribers as a way to help them continue to learn dip pen calligraphy or even watercolor is in that creative library. But what I've also done is I've used my Thinkific site to create some free challenges.

So I have a five-day calligraphy challenge that people can take that's free. And I also have a list of watercolor tutorials I created for YouTube. But the bonus that they get is it's all in one free course hosted again on Thinkific. And there's a free downloadable PDF that gives them tips on how to get started with watercolor.

So I use that free content as lead magnets. And I share the lead magnets on all of my social media sites, but I'm finding what's working best for me right now is Pinterest. Pinterest works like a Google search. It's more visual, which suits my industry and what I teach. And I have had a lot of success using Pinterest over this last year.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. I want to get into the Pinterest topic because that would be beneficial for people out there who haven't used it before. I want to ask you one quick question going back to your free resources. So you mentioned that you have a five-day challenge, and that's inside of your Thinkific course.

How is that set up? Is it just someone enrolls, and they get all five videos? Or are you dripping that content out? What does that five-day day challenge look like?

Nicki Traikos
So they can sign up for free, and the content is dripped. Again, it's something that I created maybe three years ago. That was my trial piece before I actually produced my first course. So it's dripped out over five days, and every day they get access to a video.

So it's basic instruction. And they get a tracing sheet where they can trace the basic shapes that I'm teaching for lettering or dip pen calligraphy; whatever tool they choose. And as they go through the five days, I'm giving them advice, pointers, and a taste for my teaching style.

It allows them to get to know me because I do head on video as well as a hands-on demo. So they understand my teaching style. It gives them confidence in who I am with my instruction level and skill level as well. And then I introduce them, at the end of the five-day challenge, to take a class with me. And I give them a little discount as an incentive and hopefully, convert them into a student.

Jeremy Deighan
Awesome. That's a brilliant strategy because the value that you're giving for free is I'm sure you just get some diehard fans when they go through that.

Nicki Traikos
Yeah, and it's so awesome when they actually share their challenge practice sheets with me, or that's the start of their own, whether it's a side hustle or a hobby. I feel like that's what fills me up as an instructor because I know what this business has created for me in terms of freedom and opportunity. If I can share that and be the jumping-off point for my students, it just makes me want to create more.

Jeremy Deighan
Yes, definitely. That's very motivational to see those assignments getting turned in. And you know that you're actually helping someone on the other side of that screen. Some of these courses we put out there and you just sit back and pray and hope that it's helping someone out there. But when you have students interacting, turning in assignments, that's very motivational as the instructor.

Nicki Traikos
Especially building an online business because we don't get that same feedback. So when I taught in-person workshops, you can see the transformation over the two hours that we spend together.

So when you're teaching online, whenever I'm sending out an email, or I'm in a video, especially on YouTube, or within the classes, I'm always inviting my students to hit reply, and to let me know how they're doing and share their work with me. Again, that feedback just reinforces what you're teaching, and again, inspires me to teach more.

Jeremy Deighan
So you're collecting emails, you got a bunch of free resources, free courses. Obviously, you've built this up over time to all these different lead magnets and freebies that you have. And you're getting people into your system, into your email series, and what have you.

So let's talk about how we're getting the actual traffic into that system. So you mentioned Instagram, and you mentioned Pinterest. I definitely want to get to Pinterest. Let's start with Instagram because you said that one first. So is there anything that is working for you on Instagram particularly?

Nicki Traikos
I wouldn't say there is one thing specifically. When I look at my analytics, I would say Instagram, Facebook probably bring in about 10% of my traffic. So it is quite a bit lower.

But what I'm finding on Instagram is being able to DM with potential students. So answering their questions, being able to sort of prequalify what they're looking for. And they can almost interview me in terms of what I am able to offer.

I feel like Instagram specifically allows me to have that conversation one-on-one with students and then I can then direct them to whichever course would best suit them. I do offer a few variety of dip pen calligraphy as well as brush lettering and even watercolor lettering. So I feel like Instagram is a tool where people can get to know me one-on-one, and we can have one-on-one conversations.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. And you mentioned Facebook. When you set up your courses or maybe the free workshop, do you have a community or a Facebook group that you're nurturing too?

Nicki Traikos
So I just started building a group on Facebook, and looking at how to create some community interaction and allow students to learn together and share together. So have it be a private space, where they can feel like they can ask questions. And as beginners, be able to share their work without feeling like they can't level up or they can't compete with someone who may be a bit more advanced.

However, what I love about Thinkific is they have a community aspect as well to their platform. So I'm just looking at what is working better in terms of having people be in a private space where they can share and we can have challenges, I show up live. So I'm playing around with both right now.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. Yeah. I always think that having the community is such a valuable asset to have with any type of course because then you can get that direct feedback. Again, you can have people turn in assignments and motivate each other. So I always like to hear when people are using the community aspect.

So let's dive into Pinterest because you said that was the one that seems to be working the best for you. So what is your Pinterest strategy?

Nicki Traikos
So Pinterest is a really interesting search engine. I think some people view it as being a social media platform and it really isn't. Pinterest is more of a reference tool.

So when I started using Pinterest in my business, I started using it strategically. So I made sure that my profile was just filled with keywords; so anything that I wanted to attract. So again, watercolor, calligraphy, lettering.

I made sure that the boards that I was pinning to had a strong sense of style. So I'm all about using art in your home to really liven up your space and have inspirational sayings around you and things like that. So I made sure that my boards spoke to that.

So I have a board that has inspiring funny quotes because I have a bit of a sassy personality. So my lettering tends to have a little bit of sass to it. I made sure that I featured things like my living room or home decor, or I have a board that talks about how to hang art.

So it was very on-brand for what Life I Design is all about. But it would draw in a nice variety of customers through just design and aesthetics. And then my pins were also very strategic.

So I use Canva mostly for my thumbnails for my blogs. And my blog is where I tend to pin from so that I can offer a little bit of content, whether it's a new tutorial or a bit of creative advice. So I made sure that my pins also were very on-brand with my color scheme, my personal messaging, as well as what I was promoting.

And then Pinterest started introducing the ability to upload video, which, for me, was very exciting because a lot of what I share is hands-on and video-based. So I feel it's finding a balance of creating pins that are very shareable and inspiring, but then adding the educational element to them, where you're drawing them to your site.

And then once a pin starts to have a bit of traction, so I have pins that have 10,000 views. And there is a very short almost a time-lapse video of maybe a watercolor piece that I did. And once that happens, it just seems to draw new followers. So daily I probably have a dozen to 20 new followers a day on Pinterest, and then that traffic then translates to people visiting my site.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. So let's talk about the videos that you're creating for Pinterest. How are you making those? How do you make the videos that you're talking about?

Nicki Traikos
So I use my phone primarily. And the videos mostly are portrait style. And I upload them from my phone really simply actually and create a pin on Pinterest. And you can put in your keywords, description, choose what boards you want to pin it to, and then I can direct people to my website.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. Yeah. I'm glad you said very simply because I think that when people hear about creating videos on Pinterest, you think you need studio lighting and all these things. So you're just nice and simple. You have your phone, you're doing your artwork, you upload it as a pin. And then when people click on that, it takes them to your website. Is that correct?

Nicki Traikos
Yeah. And actually, when it comes to video recording, I can share some hacks if you want.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely.

Nicki Traikos
So what I like to do is think about my platform. So because I create so much content for a variety of platforms, each platform, I find, has their own style or way to film video. So when I film a video that's portrait, I use my phone.

I have an app called Film that I like to just brighten it a little bit, maybe even create some clips of it. And I can use that same video on IGTV. So IGTV on Instagram is really huge for me. And that same video then can go on Pinterest. As well, I can upload that video on Facebook. So I'm creating one piece of content that I can then use on three different platforms.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. Very cool. And because it's in that portrait size, it's going to work on all of those. So you don't have to worry about formatting or anything like that.

Nicki Traikos
Exactly. YouTube is a little different. When I shoot videos for YouTube, it's in the landscape style. So horizontal mode. And that's what I use them to post on my blog posts. So I'll create a new blog post with a new tutorial that I create on YouTube. So I feel like just being efficient with the content that you're creating, and being able to use it in multiple ways has been a life-saver for me.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. I love the repurposing aspect of doing online business because I always try to find the quickest routes. And if you can repurpose content, that's definitely a time saver. So when you do these videos, is each video per one blog post? Or do you ever send, say, a video to your workshop or a free lead magnet or anything like that?

Nicki Traikos
I don't. So what I do is I try to create new content. Again, just keeping up with what's happening in our industry. There's a lot of free video content tutorials, how-tos. So I like to create new content for social media, and then, again, try to repurpose it on my own website by driving traffic from Pinterest.

So I use the video to drive traffic to my site, which I'm having a lot of success with. And also creating that new content on YouTube, which I then host on Life I Design's blog.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. Yeah, definitely. And then one other question I had about Pinterest. And you can answer this because you're in the design area. When someone goes to Pinterest, and you open it up and you see all these images, all these pins, it can be overwhelming? Do you have any tips or tricks or ideas of how to get your pin to stand out from other pins? Is there anything special you're doing to make sure that people are clicking on your pin versus someone else's?

Nicki Traikos
Yes, 100%. So I'm a big advocate for learning how to take strong photography. So using your iPhone or your phone, depending on whatever type you have, learning how to use that phone well to take strong images that are bright and clear. And using programs, like I love Snapseed to edit my photos, I think that is a game-changer.

But then using programs like Canva, where if you don't have a graphic design background, Canva has some pretty amazing templates that are just drag-and-drop. You literally choose the style of template that you want, bring in your images.

They do have stock photography, but again, I love photography. So I like to be able to style my own photos. But then use strong copy. So what is it that you're sharing? What do you want to inspire people with? What action do you want them to take?

So when you're creating pins on Pinterest, in order for them to be, I believe, successful is strong imagery that speaks to your audience. How do you want to grab their attention? What do you want the image to say to them? And then what action do you want them to take?

So if I am creating a Canva image that I'm going to use on Pinterest to drive traffic to my site, I'm going to catch them with the image and the headline. So if it's five things that you need to know about being creative, that's in my pin. That is a strong text on a strong image.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay. So the copy to you is just as important as the image itself?

Nicki Traikos
Yeah. 100%.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, very good. Cool. That sounds great. I think that gives everyone out there some good ideas on Pinterest and some different traffic strategies. Let's talk about the courses on your site. Do you have just one course that you're focusing on? Or is it multiple courses? Do you do a membership? What do the actual courses on your site look like?

Nicki Traikos
Well, my strategy for my own courses on my own site has changed quite a bit. And it's really interesting, again, the evolution. Once you start to play around with what type of courses you create and how your audience reacts to them, it allows you, I think, to hone in on what's working.

Originally, I had small workshop-style courses that were evergreen. So they're available on my site; you can sign up any time. I would run maybe twice a year a big sale on them. And they were doing okay.

I didn't have the success that I had planned to have, Jeremy, which I feel like it's good because you learn about what doesn't work and then you pivot, right? So what I decided to do was create more of an experience where I can offer my students a bigger transformation.

And I love watercolor. And I feel like with watercolor, I can marry both lettering and painting. And it's a medium that I feel is up and coming. So it's becoming quite popular. Although it's a traditional medium, I feel like my take on it is very modern.

So what I decided to do was last year, I created a big course. So it's seven modules with bonus sections. And it takes my students through a whole transformation, where they can be introduced to watercolor painting. I have project style-lessons that I go through. And that one is a course that I launch three times a year.

So it's not evergreen. It is a bigger commitment in terms of time and investment by the students. And I've been able to add so much value and content to that class, that it now is something that I am focusing on growing more and offering, again, launch style. So I open it up every three months or so, to a new group of students.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, and you, you just keep doing the live launches so that you can just be more for the student there? Is that the reason or is there another reason why you haven't turned it into an evergreen product?

Nicki Traikos
Yes. So I like the idea of welcoming in new students, where I can offer them support and the ability to even interact with me. So we were talking about Facebook groups and community and the ability to create community on Thinkific. And I feel like being able to show up live, whether I'm doing a live demonstration within the course, or as a bonus, being able to offer a live experience for my students online is huge.

Jeremy Deighan
Yeah, definitely because you're getting that direct feedback and direct relationship with that student.

Nicki Traikos
Yeah. I can answer questions. I can give each student personal advice and tips and attention. And I feel like that's an unbeatable and an-evergreen course system.

Jeremy Deighan
Right. It's kind of like you have a little bit of a coaching aspect to your course inside of it.

Nicki Traikos
Absolutely.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, cool. So you launch that every three months, you said. And what does that launch strategy look like? Do you have some type of funnel set up to help do the launch? Or is it just sending out an email to your email list, "Hey, the course is about to open up."? What does that launch strategy look like?

Nicki Traikos
So I find with every time I launch, I do a bit of a debrief and look at what worked and what didn't. So the first time I launched, I really didn't have a strong marketing strategy for launch. It was a lot of using social media, using live and video, talking about the course, And using my email list.

I think I ran a short Facebook ad, which was just boosting my posts about the course. So I really had a loose plan. I think I was just overwhelmed with actually creating the course and how big it became. And it didn't give myself enough time of planning out a nice roadmap or a launch runway.

So this course is launched, I'd say, three times now in total. And I'm just getting ready to relaunch it. And right now, the strategy is using a live workshop.

So again, I feel like in order for someone to invest in a bigger course with me, I want them to get to know who I am as an instructor, what they can expect to learn, and my teaching style. And I want to empower them to let them know that they can do this.

When you speak to artists, a lot of times artists feel like they're not artistic enough to take on a new medium or a new skill. And especially if you're a beginner, I want you to feel empowered and confident that you can learn what I'm teaching you. And that you can be artistic without even necessarily feeling that you are.

So with this upcoming launch, I have a live webinar, but it's a live workshop that people will be able to sign into and it'll be free. And pushing that out to social media, as well as my email list. And we'll be running some Facebook ads as well as Pinterest. My Pinterest ads, the last time I ran them, did really well. So I'll continue to use Pinterest strategically that way for launch.

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, awesome. We're going to have to get you back on the podcast and hear your Pinterest ad strategy.

Nicki Traikos
Yeah, I would love to. We have a very strong launch plan for this time around. So yeah, I would love to.

Jeremy Deighan
Okay, thanks, Nicki. I just have one more question that I wanted to ask you before we wrap it up. Someone who's listening to this podcast and hearing about all the different strategies: Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook having a community.

Deciding what platform to choose can be very overwhelming for the person just starting out, who hasn't created an online course, or maybe they just created one. Is there one piece of advice that you could give to the beginner thinking back to when you started, that would have helped you out?

Nicki Traikos
Sure. I think making it as simple as possible. So from a technology standpoint, I use my telephone to record all of my classes and videos. So you don't need to go out and buy expensive cameras or anything like that, necessarily.

If you have a good quality phone that has a good quality camera on it, I would use that. I use iMovie to edit all of my classes. I actually use my apple air pods. So I do have a Snowball mic that I like to use as well to make sure my audio is clear.

So creating good quality video and audio I think is really important. And then think of the simplest way that you can host your content. For some people, that might even be just create a private Facebook group, record your videos, and have them uploaded to Facebook where people can enjoy them or learn from them, even using a live format.

But if you're looking at a course that you can create for your own site, I would look at sites like Thinkific and Teachable, where you can create the course really easily, upload it and have it sit on your own website.

So really just think about what it is you want to share. If you want to create a video-style course because I know there's some courses out there that are PDF-based or even where there is presentation style and voiceover, think about what type of content and what type of experience you want to share for your student.

And then how can you simply offer that content so that you can start having students consume your class and get feedback from them, which I think is really important too, when you're just starting out?

Jeremy Deighan
Oh, that's brilliant. I love it. It's start simple and just get it out there. So many people get hung up on the technical and making decisions. So that's a great piece of advice. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. I appreciate your time. I know the audience is going to love this episode. So if someone wanted to find out more about you and what you're doing online, where can they go?

Nicki Traikos
Yes. I'm on social media. I'm @lifeidesign pretty much everywhere. And my website is lifeidesign.com.

Jeremy Deighan
Nice and simple. Thank you so much for joining us today and I just hope you have continued success in the future.

Nicki Traikos
Thank you, Jeremy. I really enjoyed this. And thanks so much for having me on the podcast.

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