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In Birmingham, Alabama, pediatric dentist Richard Baxter, DMD, MS, helps empower professionals to identify and treat tongue and lip ties.

This journey, catalyzed by the birth of his twin girls in 2014, led to the creation of Tongue-Tied Academy, a Thinkific platform dedicated to addressing a widespread yet underrecognized issue.

Since launching the course in 2020, he’s had over 1,500 learners enroll and has given all of the profits to local and international charities.

Here’s how he created his online course business—and how TCommerce helped to bolster his success. 

Skip ahead:

  1. He found his niche

When his girls were babies, he discovered that they had tongue ties, which was affecting their ability to nurse. Upon finding a dentist to do a laser treatment on their tongue ties, they were able to nurse much more easily. “The dentist told me to watch for tongue ties in kids because it’s more common than people realize; about one in four kids have one,” Baxter tells Thinkific. 

Soon, people began asking him about tongue and lip ties. Wanting to learn more, he dove into every course and book on the topic but realized there were not many resources available. He then learned how to do the laser tongue tie procedure. After treating patients and answering the mom’s questions, he started writing a blog post about it. More and more people reached out to him seeking his knowledge, so he decided to write and publish a book, Tongue Tied, in 2018. “People read the book and still wanted to learn more,” says Baxter. 

He determined that his next step was to create his online academy on Thinkific. In 2020, when his dental office shut down because of the pandemic, he had already written an over 200-page script and then hired a film crew to film the 25-hour flagship course while the office was closed. 

  1. He signed up with Thinkific

Central to Tongue-Tied Academy’s success is its partnership with Thinkific, providing a seamless platform for course delivery. 

“What’s nice about Thinkific is that I can organize the course into lessons and modules,” Baxter shares. 

With Thinkific, he was able to offer his content in bite-sized pieces and added quizzes to the end of each module. He also adds chapters from his book to the program. “I like that Thinkific lets me add different types of content to the lessons instead of only videos,” he reveals. 

He’s a big fan of Thinkific’s feature that allows him to automatically generate a certificate for his students. “I don’t have to do much for the course on a daily basis other than answer discussion questions because everything is automated,” he says. 

  1. He simplified the checkout process with TCommerce

Transitioning to TCommerce from Stripe proved instrumental in optimizing the checkout experience for Tongue-Tied Academy’s participants. In fact, he believes that using TCommerce has made him lose fewer sales; since switching from the Stripe integration, the checkout process has become much easier, according to Baxter.

With support for various payment methods, including Apple Pay and Google Pay, Baxter says that TCommerce ensures a seamless transaction process, facilitating accessibility and convenience for users worldwide.

“You can now literally hit a button, use your face ID, and purchase a course,” says Baxter. “It’s a lot easier now than having to put all of your information in.”

Moreover, Thinkific’s automated sales tax calculation feature alleviates administrative burdens, ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements across different states. Baxter also says that the money made from his courses gets deposited with more ease than with his previous payment provider.

“I don’t even think about it because it’s so easy,” he says. “Thinkific Payments takes care of everything for me, and the money just shows up in the bank account.”

With plans to launch an updated version of his flagship course this spring, Baxter plans on using the order bump feature, which will enable purchasers to add on another course at a discounted rate—without slowing down the checkout process. 

  1. He drove impact through charity

Once the money lands in his bank account, he donates 100% of the proceeds to charity. 

From supporting clean water initiatives in Africa and Asia to aiding rehabilitation and anti-human trafficking efforts, Baxter’s commitment to community welfare exemplifies the Academy’s broader mission of societal care. “I don’t need more stuff,” he says. “We have a house, we have a car, we’re fine.”

“If I can help a baby who couldn’t nurse before or who is colicky and having a hard time, it makes it all worth it,” he continues. 

  1. He launched different versions of his course

Recognizing diverse needs within his audience, Baxter launched a condensed version of the course tailored for professionals such as speech therapists and lactation consultants. This LITE Version course, priced at $495, offers a succinct yet impactful exploration of the subject, catering to a broader spectrum of learners.

Each of his courses has an evergreen format, so people can sign up whenever they want. “Teaching this course online has made it as accessible as possible,” he says.

Plus, the courses offer American Dental Association-approved continuing education credits. “We use an approved CE provider, meaning they can use it towards their license,” Baxter explains.

While the flagship course is priced at $2,600, the content—combined with CE approval—helps people see its return on investment. 

  1. He created a simple customer journey

Despite his success, Baxter says that he doesn’t have much of a marketing strategy.

Typically, the customer journey begins when people read his book. Then, if they want to learn more, the book guides them to the Tongue-Tied Academy. 

When he speaks at events and conferences, usually, people in the audience will sign up. If people sign up for his email list, they’re sent an email sequence from MailChimp that guides people to his Thinkific content. 

  1. He defined success for himself

Baxter defines success as the ability to multiply his knowledge. “It’s not just me doing this,” he says.

“We have 1,500 people who have taken the course. If each of them sees even one patient a day, that’s more people than I could ever treat by myself.”

Further, his definition of success entails educating providers, assisting parents, and ensuring more people receive treatment—all while using the funds to help charities around the world. 

When creating an online course, he recommends that creators seek out their passion. “It could be anything,” he says. “And whatever it is, you can make a course with it.”

“Just go for it,” Baxter encourages. “I’m not an online course guy. I’m a dentist. But I just put it out there, and last year we were honored to be in the top ten courses on Thinkific.”

Before he created Tongue-Tied Academy, he created two courses himself, each priced at $99, which about 10 people took. “I learned from that experience,” he says. I got higher-quality video and developed a flagship course through Tongue-Tied Academy.”

“You might fail a couple of times,” he adds, “but that’s just part of the learning process. It’s only a mistake if you don’t learn from it.”

As Tongue-Tied Academy continues to evolve, fueled by a steadfast dedication to education and service, its legacy of empowerment and altruism serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring educators and changemakers alike.

Inspired by Baxter’s journey? Sign up for Thinkific for free and see how TCommerce features can help you meet your online education goals. 

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