Formula SchoolOver the past month or so I have decided to dabble in the world of online learning. At the moment I have a Microsoft Office tutorials site which gets some pretty hefty traffic… and whilst it does generate some advertising revenue via Google Adsense, sick it certainly isn’t anything to write home about. I have been wondering how can I better monetise “how to” content and the idea of a structured, medications interactive online course came to mind. Something substantial that an individual can invest their own money in, sickness but without the 300 pages of writing that goes with a “how to” or “dummies” book.

Over my Christmas holidays I decided to give it a try. In hindsight writing this about a month later I made a ton of mistakes! See if you can pick them J

Is there are market? Keyword traffic forecast analysis in Google Adwords

Keeping within my Microsoft Office training niche, I looked at different types of keyword phrases to understand how much traffic could be generated. In the world of Office, the product most people struggle with and seek help for is Excel… by an order of magnitude! Sorry Outlook and Word, but I am not wasting time producing any of that content! Excel it is! I further refined my keyword and traffic forecast searches and noticed that Excel Formulas and Functions in particular had some significant traffic spikes. That topic space was something I was comfortable building a course around… and within 5 minutes I had picked “my niche” – Formula School

And… running those numbers – for only $50 per day I could generate over 5000 clicks to my site! Converting at 1%?? Man this thing is going to smash my bank account and I can retire in a matter of weeks! As it turns out, nothing is that easy.

Over the course of two days I built my first course for Formula School using the CoursePress Pro WordPress plugin. Originally I called it the very boring… Formulas 101. I slapped a price on it. $47. The science behind the pricing? None… I purchased the SSL Certificate, set up the payment gateway (Stripe) I put the finishing touches on my online Excel video course and hit publish! Now to turn on that PPC advertising money making machine!

Going broad vs going very very very laser focused specific

My first mistake – thinking I would pick every low competition keyword there is so I can pay 1c per click and keep a huge margin on the course I build. 1000 keywords all related to Excel and Excel Formulas. Well, the lesson I learned here is that low competition is low competition generally for a reason – because the traffic doesn’t convert. Sure… I got lots of traffic. But I ended up paying a hefty price. With my budget set at $50 per day, and my maximise click bid strategy in place, very quickly I saw $150 simply disappear. And not a single PPC conversion. All traffic is not created equal!

I managed to offset that cost with a few signups generated from my email list over at The New Paperclip. But based on those numbers this was not going to be very self-sufficient.

So I decided to get very specific and look for exact query / key matches (instead of the broad matches which AdWords will do by default). All of a sudden the traffic stopped. All except for one keyword phrase which to be honest was the least transaction orientated keyword in the entire list.

I settled on a partial match strategy, with a bid price set low (but not too low) and a refined list of about 50 keywords. This resulted in a nice steady stream of traffic – 20-30 clicks per day. I thought the tortoise might win this race!

As it turns out, I was still using low competition keywords, and they just were not attracting the people with buying intention. This is a really important point. Using PPC I am wanting to shorten my sales cycle. To do that the folk jumping in the top of the funnel (doing the search on Google) need to be as qualified as possible before they get to my site. I can control that to some extent based on the keywords I include in the scope of the campaign.

So now I am running a campaign with online course transaction oriented keywords – most of which are high competition with suggested bids in excess of $9 or $10. I am bidding a number of cents. I am not interested in all traffic as quickly as possible – I am happy to ride this out a bit and see how things go as the right traffic trickles in. It is early days yet, but based on early figures this seems to be the winning strategy!

Improving the copy and conversion on the course “sales page”

Back to the name of the course – Formulas 101. How lame is that. 30 days on I am kicking myself I threw all that money away on PPC with the most uninspiring course title on the planet. I needed to look at some landing page optimisation. My PPC ads were pointing to the home page of my site – Formula School – and not the course page where they could sign up and pay for the course. Looking at my Google Analytics data – 80% of the traffic was stopping at that homepage and not event getting to the course page where the sign up button is. Ugh – first things first before we change the title of the course, how about we cut that unnecessary step out of the sales process by pointing all the PPC ads to the course signup page.

Next challenge – the course name. I went old school headline copywriting on this one… “Who else wants to know the secret to Excel Formulas“. Yep. A marketing angel died when I wrote that – but I am sure it will convert 1000x better than Formulas 101. Knowing the old Ogilvy quote that “80% of readers will engage only with the headline” – I think this is the most important optimisation I can make at the moment. Sure there is plenty more to do but I want to focus on the high impact changes at the moment.

Has the experiment been a success?

The jury is still out. I am pretty much at break even point at the moment thanks to the email sign ups – however in the long term that isn’t sustainable and the organic or PPC traffic needs to kick in. When it comes to organic traffic to be honest I have not don’t much off site SEO as yet which will play a factor in the future. But for PPC I have started to look at the data and refine my strategy over time which will pay dividends quickly.
Formula SchoolOver the past month or so I have decided to dabble in the world of online learning. At the moment I have a Microsoft Office tutorials site which gets some pretty hefty traffic… and whilst it does generate some advertising revenue via Google Adsense, seek it certainly isn’t anything to write home about. I have been wondering how can I better monetise “how to” content and the idea of a structured, website like this interactive online course came to mind. Something substantial that an individual can invest their own money in, but without the 300 pages of writing that goes with a “how to” or “dummies” book.

Over my Christmas holidays I decided to give it a try. In hindsight writing this about a month later I made a ton of mistakes! See if you can pick them J

Is there are market? Keyword traffic forecast analysis in Google Adwords

Keeping within my Microsoft Office training niche, I looked at different types of keyword phrases to understand how much traffic could be generated. In the world of Office, the product most people struggle with and seek help for is Excel… by an order of magnitude! Sorry Outlook and Word, but I am not wasting time producing any of that content! Excel it is! I further refined my keyword and traffic forecast searches and noticed that Excel Formulas and Functions in particular had some significant traffic spikes. That topic space was something I was comfortable building a course around… and within 5 minutes I had picked “my niche” – Formula School

And… running those numbers – for only $50 per day I could generate over 5000 clicks to my site! Converting at 1%?? Man this thing is going to smash my bank account and I can retire in a matter of weeks! As it turns out, nothing is that easy.

Over the course of two days I built my first course for Formula School using the CoursePress Pro WordPress plugin. Originally I called it the very boring… Formulas 101. I slapped a price on it. $47. The science behind the pricing? None… I purchased the SSL Certificate, set up the payment gateway (Stripe) I put the finishing touches on my online Excel video course and hit publish! Now to turn on that PPC advertising money making machine!

Going broad vs going very very very laser focused specific

My first mistake – thinking I would pick every low competition keyword there is so I can pay 1c per click and keep a huge margin on the course I build. 1000 keywords all related to Excel and Excel Formulas. Well, the lesson I learned here is that low competition is low competition generally for a reason – because the traffic doesn’t convert. Sure… I got lots of traffic. But I ended up paying a hefty price. With my budget set at $50 per day, and my maximise click bid strategy in place, very quickly I saw $150 simply disappear. And not a single PPC conversion. All traffic is not created equal!

I managed to offset that cost with a few signups generated from my email list over at The New Paperclip. But based on those numbers this was not going to be very self-sufficient.

So I decided to get very specific and look for exact query / key matches (instead of the broad matches which AdWords will do by default). All of a sudden the traffic stopped. All except for one keyword phrase which to be honest was the least transaction orientated keyword in the entire list.

I settled on a partial match strategy, with a bid price set low (but not too low) and a refined list of about 50 keywords. This resulted in a nice steady stream of traffic – 20-30 clicks per day. I thought the tortoise might win this race!

As it turns out, I was still using low competition keywords, and they just were not attracting the people with buying intention. This is a really important point. Using PPC I am wanting to shorten my sales cycle. To do that the folk jumping in the top of the funnel (doing the search on Google) need to be as qualified as possible before they get to my site. I can control that to some extent based on the keywords I include in the scope of the campaign.

So now I am running a campaign with online course transaction oriented keywords – most of which are high competition with suggested bids in excess of $9 or $10. I am bidding a number of cents. I am not interested in all traffic as quickly as possible – I am happy to ride this out a bit and see how things go as the right traffic trickles in. It is early days yet, but based on early figures this seems to be the winning strategy!

Improving the copy and conversion on the course “sales page”

Back to the name of the course – Formulas 101. How lame is that. 30 days on I am kicking myself I threw all that money away on PPC with the most uninspiring course title on the planet. I needed to look at some landing page optimisation. My PPC ads were pointing to the home page of my site – Formula School – and not the course page where they could sign up and pay for the course. Looking at my Google Analytics data – 80% of the traffic was stopping at that homepage and not event getting to the course page where the sign up button is. Ugh – first things first before we change the title of the course, how about we cut that unnecessary step out of the sales process by pointing all the PPC ads to the course signup page.

Next challenge – the course name. I went old school headline copywriting on this one… “Who else wants to know the secret to Excel Formulas“. Yep. A marketing angel died when I wrote that – but I am sure it will convert 1000x better than Formulas 101. Knowing the old Ogilvy quote that “80% of readers will engage only with the headline” – I think this is the most important optimisation I can make at the moment. Sure there is plenty more to do but I want to focus on the high impact changes at the moment.

Has the experiment been a success?

The jury is still out. I am pretty much at break even point at the moment thanks to the email sign ups – however in the long term that isn’t sustainable and the organic or PPC traffic needs to kick in. When it comes to organic traffic to be honest I have not don’t much off site SEO as yet which will play a factor in the future. But for PPC I have started to look at the data and refine my strategy over time which will pay dividends quickly.
Formula SchoolOver the past month or so I have decided to dabble in the world of online learning. At the moment I have a Microsoft Office tutorials site which gets some pretty hefty traffic… and whilst it does generate some advertising revenue via Google Adsense, seek it certainly isn’t anything to write home about. I have been wondering how can I better monetise “how to” content and the idea of a structured, website like this interactive online course came to mind. Something substantial that an individual can invest their own money in, but without the 300 pages of writing that goes with a “how to” or “dummies” book.

Over my Christmas holidays I decided to give it a try. In hindsight writing this about a month later I made a ton of mistakes! See if you can pick them J

Is there are market? Keyword traffic forecast analysis in Google Adwords

Keeping within my Microsoft Office training niche, I looked at different types of keyword phrases to understand how much traffic could be generated. In the world of Office, the product most people struggle with and seek help for is Excel… by an order of magnitude! Sorry Outlook and Word, but I am not wasting time producing any of that content! Excel it is! I further refined my keyword and traffic forecast searches and noticed that Excel Formulas and Functions in particular had some significant traffic spikes. That topic space was something I was comfortable building a course around… and within 5 minutes I had picked “my niche” – Formula School

And… running those numbers – for only $50 per day I could generate over 5000 clicks to my site! Converting at 1%?? Man this thing is going to smash my bank account and I can retire in a matter of weeks! As it turns out, nothing is that easy.

Over the course of two days I built my first course for Formula School using the CoursePress Pro WordPress plugin. Originally I called it the very boring… Formulas 101. I slapped a price on it. $47. The science behind the pricing? None… I purchased the SSL Certificate, set up the payment gateway (Stripe) I put the finishing touches on my online Excel video course and hit publish! Now to turn on that PPC advertising money making machine!

Going broad vs going very very very laser focused specific

My first mistake – thinking I would pick every low competition keyword there is so I can pay 1c per click and keep a huge margin on the course I build. 1000 keywords all related to Excel and Excel Formulas. Well, the lesson I learned here is that low competition is low competition generally for a reason – because the traffic doesn’t convert. Sure… I got lots of traffic. But I ended up paying a hefty price. With my budget set at $50 per day, and my maximise click bid strategy in place, very quickly I saw $150 simply disappear. And not a single PPC conversion. All traffic is not created equal!

I managed to offset that cost with a few signups generated from my email list over at The New Paperclip. But based on those numbers this was not going to be very self-sufficient.

So I decided to get very specific and look for exact query / key matches (instead of the broad matches which AdWords will do by default). All of a sudden the traffic stopped. All except for one keyword phrase which to be honest was the least transaction orientated keyword in the entire list.

I settled on a partial match strategy, with a bid price set low (but not too low) and a refined list of about 50 keywords. This resulted in a nice steady stream of traffic – 20-30 clicks per day. I thought the tortoise might win this race!

As it turns out, I was still using low competition keywords, and they just were not attracting the people with buying intention. This is a really important point. Using PPC I am wanting to shorten my sales cycle. To do that the folk jumping in the top of the funnel (doing the search on Google) need to be as qualified as possible before they get to my site. I can control that to some extent based on the keywords I include in the scope of the campaign.

So now I am running a campaign with online course transaction oriented keywords – most of which are high competition with suggested bids in excess of $9 or $10. I am bidding a number of cents. I am not interested in all traffic as quickly as possible – I am happy to ride this out a bit and see how things go as the right traffic trickles in. It is early days yet, but based on early figures this seems to be the winning strategy!

Improving the copy and conversion on the course “sales page”

Back to the name of the course – Formulas 101. How lame is that. 30 days on I am kicking myself I threw all that money away on PPC with the most uninspiring course title on the planet. I needed to look at some landing page optimisation. My PPC ads were pointing to the home page of my site – Formula School – and not the course page where they could sign up and pay for the course. Looking at my Google Analytics data – 80% of the traffic was stopping at that homepage and not event getting to the course page where the sign up button is. Ugh – first things first before we change the title of the course, how about we cut that unnecessary step out of the sales process by pointing all the PPC ads to the course signup page.

Next challenge – the course name. I went old school headline copywriting on this one… “Who else wants to know the secret to Excel Formulas“. Yep. A marketing angel died when I wrote that – but I am sure it will convert 1000x better than Formulas 101. Knowing the old Ogilvy quote that “80% of readers will engage only with the headline” – I think this is the most important optimisation I can make at the moment. Sure there is plenty more to do but I want to focus on the high impact changes at the moment.

Has the experiment been a success?

The jury is still out. I am pretty much at break even point at the moment thanks to the email sign ups – however in the long term that isn’t sustainable and the organic or PPC traffic needs to kick in. When it comes to organic traffic to be honest I have not don’t much off site SEO as yet which will play a factor in the future. But for PPC I have started to look at the data and refine my strategy over time which will pay dividends quickly.
This article is my first original piece posted on Medium.  If you are on Medium, patient make sure you follow me!

The hard thing about finishing

It is really easy to start something. Especially today in our digital world where the tools to translate ideas into action literally at your fingertips.

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to starting things. I have started lots of things. We have all started things. But for some reason, online
for the longest time I have found it really hard to finish things worth finishing.

Maybe you have a new business idea? Maybe it was a project at work? Maybe you were going to the gym to increase your strength?

After a flurry of activity at the start… after a while you start to lose motivation. Life gets in the way. Something new and more interesting comes along and captures your attention. And before you know it, life
that think you needed to finish is no where near complete. Finishing things is hard!

But what sets starters apart from the finishers?

Over years of “false starts” I have started to realise what the secret sauce is for finishing (or if there is no finish line, how to focus on incremental (or exponential) growth).

As I type this article I realise what I am about to say is complete common sense. The problem is that I didn’t have the common sense to realise it when I needed to. I suspect if you find finishing things hard… that you may not have the common sense to realise it either.

It is simple. Commit to doing a little bit every day. And share your progress with others.

Whilst the above statement certainly does not sound earth shattering, the impact of doing just that certainly is. Doing something daily adds up very quickly over time.

Here is an example. You know that your $5 coffee every day is costing you over $1500 every year right? Paying $1500 is tough. Paying $5 per day is easy. Simply focusing on small short term wins every day takes the pain out of finishing things.

And from my experience the return on your investment of emotional, intellectual and physical energy compounds — just like if you put that $5 per day in a high interest bank account, or an index fund.

Sharing your progress with others not only helps you stay accountable to execute daily, but also allows you to feed on the energy of your supporters — the kick in the pants you need if you ever start wavering from your goals.

So whether you are trying to finish your Masters thesis (just like me), or wanting to finish an Olympic distance triathlon in under 2 hours 45 minutes (just like me), or are wanting to grow your business 2 fold every year (just like me)… make a commitment to yourself to take action every day and share your progress with others.

Because one day… you will look back and be surprised where it took you!


LifePerformance
Author: Paul Woods

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