I came across Bala on the Udemy Studio Facebook group. He’s a Ruby developer selling courses from his own website just like me. Curious to know how he’s coming along, I contacted Bala with a few questions to get his story.
Give us a little background about you.
I failed at Adsense in 2002. I failed as an eBay seller in 2003. I sold my first eBook in 2002. I have 14 iPhone apps and 1 iPad app that hit #2 in UK. I have not done any promotion or updated iOS apps for the past 4 years but still it generates $500-$1000 a month. I learned a lot of lessons as a Mobile developer. Each app I created taught me at least one lesson. I would be happy to share my lessons.
I have been developing web applications since 1998. I sold my eBooks through ClickBank and generated license codes using eBookPro. Every skills I developed in my work, I have used it to create my own SaaS product. The result is www.clickplan.net. It is a solution for selling any digital product. I had the idea of developing something better than ClickBank since the 90’s.
Platforms like Udemy are playing a different game. Apple has credit cards of 800 million people, Amazon has over 160 million, Paypal has over 100 million and Google is probably the same. Udemy is also focused on acquiring the credit cards.
The most important thing I have learned in the past 18 years is that the two most valuable things for a small business is:
1) Email address
2) Credit Card
Email address is used to establish and maintain relationship with prospects and customers. Your fans will buy from you repeatedly over time, so you need to do everything to increase the lifetime value of the customer.
You developed a platform for selling digital products. Is that the same platform you’re using for rubyplus.com?
Yes, the only difference is that the platform integrates with Paypal to process third-party transactions whereas rubyplus.com uses Stripe for credit card processing.
How are you driving traffic to your course on rubyplus.com?
Answering questions on forums, my blog and interacting with other developer blogs by taking part in the conversation. Traffic is not an issue because I am a developer and it is easy for me to reach other developers to share my tips and tricks
Pricing Your Product
Your Ruby course has one price point. Had you considered doing more than one price point such as intro, advanced, etc?
Not for the persona that I am currently targeting. I will be making 60% of the Ruby lessons free and the most important lessons available for just $0.99. They can buy lessons individually for 99 cents or a lower price for the entire course. This price point will make it available for people living in Asia. This also allows me to see what works and create more content that sells more. I want to add more value. This is my signature product. I am not doing this to get rich quick. Once my students see the value they are getting at such a great price, I expect them to become my loyal fans. My focus is on providing them with educational content for the next 10 or 20 years of their career.
Currently all the products I create are focused on just one persona. Once I complete creating the products for this persona, I will start creating for those who have a few years experience and are making a full-time income. The price point for those courses will be much higher. Because they have more disposable income. They are not college students or job seekers.
Validating Product Idea
What market research did you do for your Ruby course?
I have been developing Ruby web applications since 2006, so I am already familiar with the players in the market. I subscribe to forum discussions on Ruby / Rails meetups. I know their history and their products very well. I know who is ran a Kickstarter campaign and how much they raised. I also know what students are using to learn Ruby by talking to them through my Silicon Valley Ruby meetup.
Above, I mentioned two things that everyone should focus on. The #3 that everyone should do is to focus on just one persona. So, all the products I create fits just one persona. My market research starts with the job description. I know what the employers are looking for in a Rails web developer. I also know that there is a huge gap in what students learn in colleges/universities and skills needed to get a Rails developer job. There are 5 critical skills that a new Rails developer needs. They are :
My plan is to offer a complete package that is lower in cost than if they were to buy each course separately. I know that they will be able to get a $60-85 k job easily if they had this skill set.
For someone that has a course idea but hasn’t yet started because the journey from idea to sellable course is a little intimidating to them, what advance can you give?
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The first product you create must be your signature product. For instance, I created my first course on the topic on which I had taught one-day bootcamps and tutorials for 3 years. So, I can teach it with my eyes closed. Teach something in which you have the most confidence. You have to focus on your process. Focus on making progress everyday. If you focus on the goal, you will feel overwhelmed. The first course you will create will be the most difficult one, because you will be learning lot of things. For instance, I learned about creating story boards, video editing, voice-over, noise reduction using Final Cut Pro, using Bamboo tablet to draw and ton of other things that I did for the first time. It was time-consuming and frustrating. Sometimes there was a doubt if I would ever finish creating the course. If you expect obstacles to be part of the journey, you will be able to overcome them.
I’d like to thank Bala for taking time out and letting us see how his process works.
I hope you have enjoyed this short interview into how others are selling courses from their own site.