Tyler Basu interviews online course and mastermind expert Kathryn Hocking on how to add premium mastermind groups to your online course business.
To learn more about Kathryn visit: www.kathrynhocking.comCreating Premium Mastermind Groups for Your Students @kathhocking Click To Tweet
[Tyler Hey, this is Tyler Basu.
And welcome to TeachOnline TV where we feature different experts and online course creators to help you with creating and marketing your online courses.
Now today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Kathryn Hocking and she is known as the eCourse Secret Weapon.
She’s been creating, designing, launching courses for several years.
Online courses, digital programs, mastermind groups, all kinds of cool things.
And she has helped a lot of other people launch their courses as well.
So Kathryn, thank you so much for taking the time to share your insights with us.
[Kathryn] Thank you so much for having me.
[Tyler] Now I know I very quickly introduced you there.
But if you could just tell us how you got into this space.
I mean, take us back to when you created your first course.
And what made you jump into this world full-time, I guess.
[Kathryn] Yea it’s kind of funny and long story with twist and turns.
I didn’t set out and go, ‘yes I’m going to teach people how to create online courses.’
I have been in the corporate world for 10 years.
I realized I didn’t want to wake up in another 10 years and still be doing work that really wasn’t stuff that let me up and wasn’t— my passion works.
So I set out to think about the types and things I could do.
And I knew that the things I wanted was that I can work from home.
That I could replace my 6-figure income that I had in the corporate world.
And just the stuff that I enjoy and be more creative and that sort of thing.
So I look around a heap of different things—looked at different university courses.
And ultimately I decided to study life-coaching which was really funny because just as I was graduating university,
I saw this flyer about life-coaching.
But I was like, ‘and I can’t do that,’
I’ve just done a 4 year degree, I have to go in and do something.
[Tyler] Do something with the degree.
[Kathryn] –with this degree, right?
But I’d seen it and thought, ‘Wow, that would be really cool.’
So anyway, 10 years later, I come across life-coaching again so I signed up.
I set up a business and I actually started out as a return to work coach.
So I wanted to help women after they’ve had children and being on the maternity leave negotiating
returning to work and just managing to juggle that is that.
But I didn’t attract any clients.
Not a single one.
But I did start getting moms in business or mompreneurs as they’re often called.
Contact me and asked me to help coach them in their business.
So I started coaching moms in business and really took off when I started creating some information products to go along with coaching.
Because coaching was really very new even 5 years ago in Australia.
But as I started creating products and stuff that would go along with it.
It seemed to make it just something that they could understand better and they thought they were getting something else with the coaching.
So then one day walking along the beach, I realized that eCourses would be perfect for moms because they don’t have a lot of time.
They kind of always waste their time for things.
They don’t always have a lot of money.
And I thought delivering the same information but in an eCourse would be really great for this market.
So I created my first eCourse which was called Mompreneur Maven at that time.
Which was a business– really a course for moms that have started a business and don’t really know about business and what to do.
That was really successful and then I went on to create a number of other eCourses for moms in business.
And then they started saying to me, ‘can you teach us how to create eCourses?’
We want to create them for our own businesses.
And at the time, ‘okay, no worries.’
And I didn’t really think I was going to be anything.
So I just went and created another eCourse and it just took off.
From the first time I launched it, it was my most successful program.
And I very quickly realized that I needed to focus in this area because there was some demand for it.
And I actually come from a training background so I’m a qualified trainer as well.
And I was a corporate trainer in my previous working life.
So it’s a really good fit for this course experience that I really have.
[Tyler] Yea, sounds like you found that sweet spot.
And you’re able to marry those skills, those passions, that expertise with your clients who are now asking you to help them in those areas.
[Kathryn] Yea. I mean, they have the some of best ideas too.
People actually come to you and ask you things like listen to those things because often they are the great ideas that really take off.
[Tyler] Yup. So have you shifted then to–?
Are you still offering the one-on-one coaching?
Or have you shifted to all courses and all group coaching or mastermind type of a model now?
[Kathryn] I don’t really offer any just one-on-one coaching sessions.
Very occasionally if someone emails me and I really feel like there’s a really strong fit for us,
I might take them on as a private client.
but I have a little room for my books these days for those.
So I have I think—
I’m just trying to count them out—
I currently got 3 online programs plus my mastermind that I run.
So basically I have a program called the eCourse Idea Generator which is a totally passive revenue stream, I guess.
I’m not really involved in that once people purchase it.
That’s just helping them find out what their eCourse idea what should be.
Then I have the eCourse formula which is my flagship program.
Very active in that forum and supporting community.
I’ve just recently launched a new program called Launch Mastery
which is really for people that want to take their launching to the next level.
And then I also have the Ultimate eCourse mastermind which is really for people that are really serious about making serious money from eCourses.
And they’re ready to invest a year of their life and a decent sum of money into working with me to really have that revenue stream take off them in their business.
[Tyler] Okay. Perfect. Thanks for that overview.
So I’d like to dive in– your process for creating a course because you’ve created a number of courses over the years.
So you’ve gone through this process many times.
[Tyler] you created the shorter ones—those flagship programs.
And then the longer programs with their mastermind component as a part of it.
So you’ve got this down now.
You got it.
[Kathryn] Yea I think I’ve created 10 or 11 product in 5 years, maybe more than that.
[Kathryn] Yea, I’ve done it a lot.
[Tyler] So going back to when you created your first course, what was your process like the first time?
And then if you could walk us through some of the things you’ve learned since then or how your processed changed since then.
How you would advice somebody who’s just getting started today
to go through those steps to picking their idea and then outlining content and creating their courses, and so on.
[Kathryn] Yea, look. My process was very simple the first time.
And I look back on the way that I used to create and launch program.
I could go from idea to launching in like a week—even a weekend
[Tyler] Nice. Nice.
[Kathryn] because my process was so simple.
And there’s some really big benefits about that stage of a business where—you’re at a point where you can DIY a lot of things or you have to DIY a lot of things.
Because the plus side of that is that you can get traction and make focus very, very quickly.
I’m now at the stage of my business where virtually everything I create has to go on a major branding process, copywriting.
Everything is at a really high level.
So it takes me much longer
I can’t move as quickly in the market.
So when I started out, it was really about just identifying in the area where there was a need.
So I think like a one tip is to do some work with clients first.
I think you sort of made that insight to know what people want— what people need.
However, there are other ways to get around it.
You can send out surveys to your list or to your community.
And they can be really, really helpful as well.
So when I was creating launch mastery,
I thought there was a need for it.
But I wanted to know exactly what people want covered in that program.
So I could really meet their needs and that was super useful.
So I guess that’s one tip.
When you’re starting out is either take your work from you’re done with your 101 clients,
or the survey sort of model we’re collecting that key of information.
So in the early days, I would go for me to having that knowledge from my clients or I would send a survey out.
I would then very go quickly go into a design.
So I would really just do things like mind mapping, brain dumps.
Just getting it all out and then trying to sort things into obvious categories.
Then work them into modules.
So what makes sense?
What flow made sense?
What content made sense to put where?
So I would do this process really quite quickly.
I would then generally launch my sales page before I’ve written any of the content.
Not everyone is comfortable with this.
Being a trainer and a course writer in my previous corporate life,
I know I can go from an outline to the content without problem.
Not everyone is comfortable with this.
But the benefit of it is that you can test the idea
before you spend all of this time for writing the content.
So what if my preferred model?
So I would then generally write my sales page.
I wrote my own sales pages in the early days.
When I look back, none of them is still alive, but I remember what they look like.
They were so basic.
No pretty graphics.
No—just plain text.
Just my words.
And I’m not the most amazing writer but they connected with my audience.
I think I have a list of 140 people for my first eCourse launch.
And I sold 28 spots.
That’s like 20% conversion.
[Tyler] Yea. That’s good.
[Kathryn] and sort of unheard of these days to get that sort of conversion but it can small list can still convert really well.
So I would get the sales page up.
I would then start promoting it.
As I would start see the sales coming in then okay, I need to write some content.
So then I would go into my content phase.
My courses are normally a mixture of workbooks, worksheets and templates.
And also videos for people.
That’s just my preferred way of delivery.
There’s lots of ways you can deliver the content.
And again, my launches in the early days was super, super simple.
Just email marketing.
A little bit of social media back you can actually get decent rates in social media without paying for it.
I didn’t do webinars.
I didn’t have fancy challenges or video series or anything like that.
So you can get started without having all the bells and whistles.
[Kathryn] So what’s changed?
These days, as I say, my business is at a point now where I’m sort of a half a million business tracking to a million dollar business.
I have a certain level of professionalism and branding in my business that I can’t just act super, super quickly.
I did actually release a workshop this week that I did do myself but I generally can’t just whip things out anymore.
So for me, it’s a process of going through quite a detailed viability assessment.
Surveying my tribe.
Designing it and going through full branding processes with my amazing web designer and then getting my copywriter in to help me with the copy.
And this whole lengthy process actually coming up with a full launch strategy that will often include either series of challenges or scholarship programs.
Or a series of webinars—whole lot of different things.
So it’s a much longer process for me these days.
But I say to all of my clients, I didn’t start like this.
You don’t have to start like this.
This is sort of 5 years in where I’m at.
[Tyler] Yea. Yea.
That’s really important point.
So at this point you have a lot of moving parts.
You’ve got team members.
You’ve got a lot of experience.
More resources than you had before as well to invest in creating it and marketing the courses.
But like all entrepreneurs, you did not start where you are today.
[Tyler] You started with what you had at the time and you made it work.
[Tyler] So just recap like the first time you created the course,
you actually sold it before having all of the content ready.
What I generally like to do is once a sales page is up,
I will start writing the first few modules because I don’t ever want to be ever in a point where the course is going live and I haven’t got the first few modules.
So my method is sort of a hybrid.
It’s not quite—don’t write anything until it’s sold and it’s not all written before I go.
It’s so hybrid where I’ve got the first few modules written.
Then once I know it’s selling it’s going to go ahead, then I start writing the other modules.
[Tyler] Now have you ever found that after enrolling students in the course where you have like the first module or two created.
And you initially presented them with that outline.
Have you ever found that based on their feedback or the questions,
you ended up changing some of the content that you’ve created for them later in the course.
Like did the outline changed at all from what you initially thought it would be?
[Kathryn] Not normally in the initial round.
[Kathryn] And a really good example is the eCourse launch formula.
It started as a 5-module program.
A year or so later, it was a 7-module program—it’s now an 11-module program.
So this definitely been as my experiences grown,
as my understanding has grown over the years.
It has expanded and developed and the feedback I’ve had form my community—
Often the things that they suggest end up being bonuses in the next round.
So there’s always evolution.
This is another thing.
A lot of people really struggle with the perfectionism side of things.
I really encourage my people just to get it out there.
Get the first round done.
Get that feedback.
And you can review and improve it.
With every round that goes through.
Of course I used to go to the opposite end where I was viewing my content way to frequently.
So now I have pulled myself back on that a bit.
But I really just think, just get it out there.
See how people respond and improve it for the next round.
[Tyler] Great point.
So Kathryn, I wanted to bring up the topic of masterminds.
Because this is a part of your business model here.
You’re not just creating the courses that people can go through and just get the information.
You got a community component in your business model as well.
So when did that—
When did adding that begin to make sense for you?
Or what point did you realize that that was something you wanted to add in the business model?
Like how would somebody know if this is something that they should do as well?
[Kathryn] Yea, okay so.
I’ve been watching for 5 years, probably about 2-2.5 years in.
I was like, ‘launching is great.
It’s great to have these big bulks of money but it’s also really nice to have a more regular revenue stream as well.
So that was one of the things.
I was just like life could just be—just that bit easier, that bit more stable if it was an amount that you can actually rely on each month.
Kind of like salary when you work in corporate.
[Kathryn] So that came to me and then my daughter was actually—
My second daughter was really sick in the hospital at 8weeks old.
I was in this horrible hospital bed overnight worrying about her.
And ridiculously, the idea for the mastermind came to me then.
And I just had this moment where I thought to myself,
people want what I have.
But it’s so much more than just creating the eCourse.
Like to actually build a sustainable eCourse business is so much more to that.
But people do want that.
They want what I have.
So I grabbed a notebook or something I had with me in the hospital.
I just started writing down all of these topic ideas for this new program.
And so it really started from that just little seed of an idea.
I got on to my existing group.
My existing eCourse launch formula group and I say to them,
‘I have this idea for a mastermind.
You’ll get some one-on-one time with me.
You’ll get some live events.
You’ll get some advanced content.
Like. is anyone interested in this?’
And there was really good response to it.
So I thought okay.
This idea has legs but I want some more information.
I want to make sure that I pitch it at the right level.
That the pricing is right so then I did another—
Well I did a survey to a group and ask them some really specific questions about—
Where would they want the event?
How many events would they want?
What sort of price points that they’d be willing to pay for what they’ve just told me that they want—
Did they want content in it.
Did they want group course in it.
So I really did a survey to find out exactly what they wanted.
And of course as the creator, I had to then use my own brain of what i know would work and would help people and pair that with what they’ve said what they wanted.
It’s not always about giving people exactly what they say they want.
Sometimes you need to take the leadership role of going your way, ‘actually you know you need this.’
Like I know this is how you’re going to get the best result.
So it’s about really merging those 2 things.
And but yea, I really sort of knew I had certain legs at this point.
And then as I said I went through this my normal big process of branding and copywriting and everything.
It was scary because this was the first time I’d ever decided to go pro write from the very beginning of the product.
So I had no absolute certainty that it was going to sell but I invested in professional branding, professional sales page and professional copywriting for that sales page upfront.
Wasn’t it really huge, huge sum of money?
Maybe it was $2,000-$3,000 but that’s still feels like a lot when you’re not sure if you’re even going to sell it.
[Kathryn] I’ve never asked anyone to pay me this much money before for anything.
So there were lots of fears and blocks that came up around that.
But I did it and yea.
I filled the group.
And I’m now going to my third round of enrolments for this mastermind program.
And it’s amazing.
It’s a fantastic revenue stream.
I love the work.
And the other thing is I think it’s very important to stay in touch with people.
I think once your business starts going well, sometimes you could lose touch.
Like if you’re a weight loss coach, and you’ve kept the weight off for 5 years.
You might sort of lost touch of what it’s like for people.
Or like me, I’ve got eCourses doing really well now,
but if I’m not working with people that is still at those early stages struggling in a more intensive way,
I can sort of forget of what I was like as well.
So I think masterminds a great—from that perspective view of business as well.
Though in terms of when to know if it’s a good thing for you to do,
I think generally it’s not a great idea to jump straight into masterminds.
I actually think masterminds work best when you have an established a tribe,
and you have also established eCourse program that has done quite well
and you know they want more from you.
I have a client.
I’ve been working with this year.
Danielle Omar and she’s got a program called Nourish through 21-Day sort of clean-eating challenge.
So she runs it 4x a year.
And she came to me this year in the mastermind she said, ‘I want to do the next level program.
I want to do something that people sign up for the whole year and really takes them to the next level.
So we designed it together.
We designed some coaching here and there for them.
And again she has that fear of would it sell, would it not.
And she’s totally excited.
We were laughing about it in San Francisco a few weeks ago,
because she offered one on one coaching and she had 60 people sign up or something.
I’m like you have to coach 60 people now.
Which is funny coz it went really, really well.
But she had an established tribe and an established program that people really love.
So I think that is one of the case to do it successfully.
[Tyler] And you mentioned earlier that—
Well, part of the reason and one of the biggest benefits of doing the mastermind was it suddenly gives you recurring revenue.
You had done launches before and as you know from doing those launches where you charge a one-time fee for your course,
when the launch is over, all of a sudden, revenue dips, right?
[Tyler] Or you got to launch again or promote it again.
So you go through these cycles of lots of money coming in and then not so much, lots and then not so much.
[Tyler] But with the mastermind would even membership websites or recurring subscription forces, you’ve got that every month.
You’ve got that dependable income coming in.
And your focus just becomes on keeping those students—keeping them engaged–
[Tyler]continuing to add value to them.
So what would you say are some of the challenges or the concerns of running a membership site or a mastermind program that you didn’t quite get with the previous model of just one-time purchases.
What are the some of the unique challenges to consider with this—with the recurring model?
[Kathryn] Well for most people, unless you’re pitching a very high-level mastermind,
They’re not going to be able to pay the full fee upfront.
So you normally having to do payment plans over the years.
So I have—they pay a deposit.
Which is really important because I have to pay for venues and stuff like that upfront.
Then they pay a monthly recurring fee.
The issue there then becomes retention the same way with membership programs as well.
I do feel—what I like about masterminds is I feel they are a bit more secure than a membership program.
A membership program normally you can leave it anytime.
So you have to really work hard on the retention.
With the mastermind, you’re generally saying to people,
‘this is a contract,’
You either have a 7-notice period or once they have signed up, they have to stay in.
So,I do feel that masterminds are a little bit more secure than membership type—than membership sites in terms of that recurring revenue.
They can also be more paramount—you don’t have to support as many people.
That said, probably overall,
If you have a big list and big traffic,
maybe you can make more with a membership than a mastermind.
So they’re both good options.
I prefer the mastermind model but that said, you still have to be really be focusing on the experience.
Making sure that you’re offering an amazing experience people go through the mastermind.
Coz they’re normally paying quite a lot of money to be in it each month.
And to work with you and to attend your events and that sort of stuff.
So this has to be a really high-level focus on service and the experience and that sort of thing to keep your masterminders happy.
[Tyler]Yea. That makes sense.
You bring up a good point with membership sites.
And I think part of the reason that is with the retention struggles, the pricing—
I mean, I’ve been a part of many different membership sites and online courses that charge me monthly and its—
It’s usually between like $40-$100.
It’s not usually a huge amount but it’s enough that if I’m not constantly engaged.
I don’t want to keep seeing my card getting charged every month.
So I’m going to cancel. But in mastermind–
I have to tell you—
I’m not a member of any membership programs.
So I think that says something as well.
There are people out there where that’s just not—
Not something interested in.
I would actually myself rather make a decent investment upfront.
Or being in a high-level mastermind
Because I find that with that high level of investment, I’m more invested.
I’m actually going to make sure I do the work.
I going to make sure I get value out of it.
So it’s just an interesting point to know that
I think at certain levels memberships can be great, but I think—
It depends on what sort of customer–
[Tyler] Right. Right.
[Kathryn] –you’re trying to attract.
[Tyler] Well you mentioned like with the membership, because it’s the lower priced point, your less committed, it becomes a game of getting as many as people as possible.
[Tyler] You might even need hundreds or thousands of members before it really becomes profitable for you.
But with a mastermind, it’s a higher-priced point.
You’re serving less people.
But they’re much more committed.
They’re much more serious.
They’re much more engaged.
And this is what I love.
I only have to find 10-12 people out of my list which is a really small conversion of my list.
[Kathryn] To have a 6-figure revenue stream from my mastermind.
It’s one of the things I love about it.
It’s not that I need hundreds or thousands of people
[Kathryn] To be making good money from it.
[Tyler] Yea. Yea.
That definitely makes sense.
So what does somebody get in your mastermind?
Let’s say they’re in the mastermind for a year.
What sorts of resources or things are you providing for them over the course of that year?
And I just want to say that there are lots of different types of masterminds.
There some masterminds that are just online.
There are some that have coaching but don’t have events.
Some have events and there’s no coaching.
Like there lots of different ways that you can design it.
I’ve looked at some masterminds that I’ve been in.
I looked at the things that I love about them and the things that I don’t love about them.
Then what I created what sort of my dream mastermind was.
So in my mastermind, they get—
In the past they have content every month.
But what I’ve actually found is that that becomes just kind of hard for them to keep up with.
And it becomes like another stress for them.
So with the mastermind this year, I’m actually giving them access to my new program, Launch Mastery
Which is an 8-week program.
So they can go through the live round but there’s not sort of sense of obligation that they have to do with the content.
So they get access to Launch Mastery.
They get 9 hours’ worth of coaching with me,
So we’d normally spread that out throughout the year.
They can use it in half an hour or 1 hour blocks so it’s really—
They just use it as they need it during the year.
They get 3 live events– up to 3 live events.
So they’re all round in Australia—the live events.
So I ran 1 in Adelaide, 1 in Melbourne and 1 in Park Cove which is like a tropical, beautiful part of Queensland.
We have a retreat there for 3.5 days in the middle of the year.
I do run smaller events in the U.S. because I do have an international audience.
I always have clients signing up from U.S.
I will also go to a major U.S. city and run an event for them as well.
But I also have people that fly over for at least 1 of the events.
We have monthly group calls where we talk about a different topic or they may have requested an area they want me to train on.
We just have general check-ins and that sort of thing.
So that’s the main thing.
And I have guest contributors as well.
So there’s always people that come in during a year.
They might be sales page specialist.
They might be people that have had really successful eCourse program so it’s like learning from them.
I’m also trying to bring in people that sort of show like the future what can happen for them.
So I’ve got one client from my mastermind 2 years ago that has have a very successful capture wardrobe challenge ,
But she’s now created a different spin-off business that’s doing really, really well as well.
So I’m also trying to show people sort of that longer term opportunity that they have through eCourses.
So a really mix of delivery and of course also a Facebook forum where they can access me at any time.
[Tyler] Okay so there’s quite a bit.
They get access to you.
[Tyler] Coaching with you for 9 hours– you said per year.
[Tyler] They get to meet with each other and with you for those live events.
You’ve got the Facebook group.
You’ve got the content itself inside.
–the online where they can go through there on their own time.
So they’ve got a lot of different ways for them to learn it.
To remain accountable and engaged with you which I think is the—
Important component masterminds for sure.
[Kathryn] Yea and the community is such an important component I say, too.
Coz I work mainly with women in this program,
I say to them at the start of the year, this is your sisterhood now.
You don’t realize now how this group is going to be to you during the year.
[Kathryn] And then I’ve seen them go off and after the year is over and partner with each other in projects or catch up or in their local city or when they travel visit each other.
It’s more than just that year.
It becomes lifetime support networks for them.
Well Kathryn, I want to work towards wrapping up here.
But thank you, first of all, for taking the time to share your expertise.
We have a lot of course creators inside of our community.
Our Facebook for example has almost 5,000 course creators.
But I don’t know too many people who have created a mastermind group for their students.
So that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to invite you to come in and speak to us so that we can introduce them to that idea.
And of course if they need some help—
If they need some help setting this up or they want to learn more.
I know you have a ton of resources.
Where’s the best place do people can find you?
And were and what resources do you have if they want to learn this in more detail?
[Kathryn] Yea. Probably kathrynhocking.com is the best place to go.
So that’s K-A-T-H-R-Y-N
Hocking, H-O-C-K-I-N-G dot com.
They’ll be able to see my blog there, see my few resources.
And check out all of my different programs.
The thing I want to mention is in the mastermind,
I often work with people to create their own masterminds.
So even though it’s the ultimate eCourse mastermind and a number of my clients already have that and now they want to create that next level offering.
So I work with people in the mastermind to create what I’ve created through the mastermind.
I’ve got a range of different products no matter what stage you’re at with your eCourse journey.
And we publish a really useful blog every single week.
So it’s definitely worth checking out.
And we’ll make sure we’ll link to all resources you mentioned below the video and on our blog as well.
Last question for you and then we’ll say goodbye.
Is there anything that you could say to anybody who’s on the fence?
They haven’t created a course yet.
Their thinking of doing it.
They want to share their knowledge online.
But they just haven’t taken that first step.
What’s something that you can say to inspire them or encourage them to get started with teaching online?
[Kathryn] Well you know I have a 5-year plan to quit my corporate job.
I thought it was going to take me 5 years to replace my 6-figure income.
I did it in 11 months.
And I did that through eCourses.
And ePrograms and eProducts.
So I really want to say, just get started.
My first launch only has 140 people on my list.
I still sold 28 places.
You really just need to get started where you are because if you don’t change anything,
nothing’s going to change.
You have to be the one.
No one can do it for you.
You have to be the one to get out there and change your life for the better.
[Tyler] Great advice.
Thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate it.
[Kathryn] No worries.
[Tyler] Well Kathryn, thanks again for your time and we’ll keep in touch.
[Kathryn] Thanks so much.
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