Tips for Building a Successful Online Program – feat. Fabiana Claure

April 26, 2022

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If you’re thinking about creating your own online course or program, you’re in for a treat with this episode! Today, we’re sitting down with Fabiana Claure to chat about the essentials of putting together a profitable online program. Fabiana is the founder of The Musician’s Profit Umbrella® where she helps musicians unify their skills to create rapid financial expansion and purposefully design their lives in alignment with their values and lifestyle goals.

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How did you know you were ready to offer an online program? What questions were people asking you most frequently?

[13:17]  I never felt ready. You know, I, and this is something that I encourage my clients to do as well. I don’t think you can ever feel a hundred percent ready to start anything.

I didn’t feel ready when I started my music school. I didn’t feel ready when I started my coaching business. Um, I think it’s a process of just being willing to experiment. And learn as you go. And of course, you have a basis of, of an understanding that you can help in a specific way. So of course, in my case, I had already been working at a university for five years, for four years.

At that time, helping musicians build their businesses. Right. That’s what I had been doing in my formal job setting. Let’s put it that way. I had already started my own business as a musician entrepreneur with my music school. So I knew. That I, I could help, but I, the online space is a very different one.

You know, it’s not the same to work in a brick-and-mortar music school than to work at a university academic environment than to create an online business. So even though I knew I had. A vast experience that I could use to help. I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I decided to branch into the online space, but I just gave myself permission to fail forward.

That’s kind of what I did and what I encourage people to do, not to feel ready and wait until they feel ready, but to give themselves permission to experiment. And to go and serve and be able to go back and improve and respond to how, how their audience reacts to how their clients react.

How much input did your audience have in the course content you created?

[16:21] So you’ll laugh about this, but when the program started, my clients expected a full-blown syllabus, right? When the six-month program they’re like, okay, so where’s the syllabus. We want to see the curriculum and much to their surprise. I let them know that there was no syllabus that I was going to create the program in real-time for them based on the combination of my perspectives, my experiences, but also taking very very seriously their input and responding to their needs on a week to week basis. So for the first six months of the program, I created it week by week based on their responses, based on what they seemed to need the most. Of course, I had an idea of what I wanted for them to go through, but I didn’t formalize anything until I gave them

bits and pieces and saw how they reacted. So I custom-made it for my current cohort of clients that I had at the time. And since then I’ve continued evolving it and adding it. But to this day, it’s been almost two years. I continue creating content in real-time for my existing clients because I believe that by responding to the.

Like urgent needs that our clients have in real-time is the best way that we can serve them. 

What things do you recommend people have in place before they consider offering online courses? Aka, some non-negotiables…

[20:28] Here’s the thing. When I started my music school back in 2011, I was a pianist and a piano teacher. That’s all. Never in a million years, would I know that 80% of what I would end up doing in the business was not teaching piano or playing the piano.

It was doing marketing, it was recruiting. It was dealing with customer service. It was finances. It was. Cleaning the academy. I mean, it was all the things except playing the piano and teaching piano. Same thing happens when we go on to create an online business and we think, oh, I’m going to create a course.

And I’ll just be, you know, serving my clients all day long. It’s really important to establish clear expectations of what it means to build an online. What it means to be in an all nine business means to create a brand. Again, coming back to that, you have to commit as much as you commit to creating the content for your clients, serving your clients, you have to commit to building an online presence.

And that means you need to be a clear communicator and willing to add content and add value to your community from a place of. Authenticity from a place of authority, from a place of creativity and commitment to the process of building your online tribe. As you mentioned your community, as much as to serving your clients, you can’t build an online business.

If you don’t commit to it. You know, sharing your perspectives, sharing your beliefs, sharing your thought leadership, not just how-tos, but really letting people understand your convictions, letting people understand your story. That is a huge part that I don’t think many creatives realize when. When they see a course or a program online, and they’re thinking, oh, I’ll just make one.

But then they need to learn how to build their online presence. And they don’t want to do that. They have all sorts of blocks and imposter syndrome. So I think releasing that and being aware that yes, building an online business means stepping into a new way of visibility 

What platforms do you use to host your online programs?

[24:00] Thinkific offers three free courses, so I use Thinkific and I recommend my clients to use Thinkific. 

Do you write your own launch/email copy or do you outsource that to someone else? What email marketing platform do you use?

[25:40] So when I started out, I was a one-woman show. I was doing it all myself as most of us do. Right. This is how it goes. But again, because I am a fan of building businesses.

Don’t require us to be part of every aspect of them. Uh, and you know, never in a million years, did I expect they to have a school running across the country, without me there, since the beginning of building this new business, I knew that I needed to create systems and I needed to find ways where I wasn’t doing all of the different roles for the business.

So I did some research and I worked with different experts in marketing and content creator. And I came to the best medium point right now, which is to have. Video content that I create regularly through my YouTube channel and my Facebook group and other platforms. And to have my team redistribute that in a variety of contexts to have it put into blogs, to have it put into emails, to have it put into newsletters based on the video content that I present.

I really enjoy just showing up. And teaching I’m an educator at heart. And so for me, that’s been the best way is to focus on making the video content and then to have my team kind of repurpose and extract from my video. 

For our email marketing, we use Convertkit. 

Are your courses evergreen or do you launch them a specific amount of times each year?

[30:00] when I started  I did a live round, so people started June 15th, all of them started together. And they went together through the whole cohort at the same time and they graduated. It was a six month program originally. And that’s, uh, because I was creating it in real time and kind of putting it together based on the responses that I saw and the needs that I saw, it worked really well.

But then again, I realized after my first round that I didn’t want to keep going back. It helped me to start off, but I knew that I wanted to have an option to bring in people all year round to make it evergreen so that people could join whenever I needed people to join and not just based on a specific start and end date.

So I switched it and it was a little bit scary. I’ll be honest because no one had done anything like that in my industry. Everyone was doing it just beginning and end, beginning and end date. So sometimes when no one is doing so. It’s not a good sign for you to think you should do. And you wonder maybe there’s a reason why no one is doing it this way, but I decided to give myself permission again, once again, to just fail forward.

And, you know, I knew I could do it the other way. And I said, okay, If it doesn’t work, then I’ll just go back to the other model. But I just didn’t want to depend on this one launch, right. Where everything needed to happen. And then if not, then I had to wait six months till the next one. So I turned it evergreen and I now have a way for people to join at different points in the year.

I opened it at different moments. Uh, when I created different events, um, different marketing events, different conversion opportunities. I open it up as I decide basically, but people can come in. Whenever I need them to versus based on a specific calendar date and because the content is, um, the co-curriculum is prerecorded, so people can access it and go through it on their own.

In addition to the live touch points that we have every week and the live mentorship, it allows that flexibility for people to come in at different points. Some of them are more advanced, others are more, uh, you know, just beginning, uh, and it allows that freedom. And so I definitely encourage. The overall evergreen model to make it more sustainable in the long run.

What do you have in the works for the remainder of 2022 in terms of online education? Any specific goals you have?

[40:23] So in this new year, 2022, I am launching a mastermind level program. Now for those clients who are coming in already having reached those milestones were kind of graduating into the next level. Again, what am I doing? I’m building a program for them, right?

I’m building it in real-time. So this year, once again, I’m launching a brand new program that is geared to. The clients who are graduating from the early program, from the incubator level. And it’s now a mastermind version where people who have gone through the program initially have gotten all these wins.

They now want to build teams. They want to create systems. They want to build businesses that work without the. And I’m so excited to be able to have this like next-level program based on what my clients now need, which is not the same as when I was just starting. Right. So I’m now in this phase of, of diversifying my offers and learning how to create curriculums for those who are coming in.

You know, trying to cross the six-figure mark and then those who have already crossed the six-figure mark and want to scale to seven figures, you know, and building those different types of, uh, curriculums and scaling that. And I’m also in the process of writing my first book, I’ve written half of it already, so I feel comfortable enough to talk about it because half of it is already there.

It’s been 10 years in the making. So a year ago I probably wouldn’t have dared to talk about it, but at this stage, it’s been, you know, 50% of it is already. So I’m excited to hopefully, you know, release the book later this year. 

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