ASP 36: Turn Your Book Into A Course: How to Expand Your Author Income Streams

Quote of the Day:

“Online learning is not the next big thing; it is the now big thing.” – Donna J. Abernathy

Self-published authors are leaving money on the table by not creating courses from their books. In this podcast, we discuss how to create another profitable income stream using content you’ve already created by designing and selling your own course. Barrie and Ron give you an overview of why creating courses is a great business decision, and teach you the steps to get your first course off the ground.

Why are online courses so valuable for authors?

They are the top medium for learning today. Amazingly, 95% of all US universities offer some type of online learning. Forbes projected that online learning will soon be a $107 billion/year industry. It is growing, and will continue to do so.

Although it might seem counterintuitive, you’ll make more money with courses than books. It’s a great additional income stream, but could easily end up eclipsing your book sales.

What should you try to achieve when you create courses?

The goal is to create just-in-time learning. Provide your students with nothing more than what they need. Make your course specific, granular, and outcome-oriented.

The 52-Week Life Passion Project was Barrie’s first book. Creating a course helps your audience to get to know you and understand your material better, and videos make you more relatable. When you combine all of these elements, it is much easier to become fiscally successful as an author.

How do you create a course as a fiction author? As a nonfiction author?

Building a course is easier for nonfiction authors because you can translate your book into course content. Fiction authors, on the other hand, have to be more creative when it comes to content. You could create courses around character development, or on how to write better fiction.

Mark Dawson is a fiction author who created a course on how to set up ads, called the Self-Publishing Formula. And James Patterson has a course available on

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. or be an “expert” to create a course. All you have to do is bring together information in a valuable way and then present it to your audience.

What does a $20–60 course look like?

Courses can range from an email course to a full-blown video course. Between email, video, audio, PDFs, etc., you have tons of options.

Emotional Abuse Breakthrough costs $67, and includes audios, PDFs transcripts and worksheets.

Ultimately, the content will depend on what your audience needs. If you’re just starting out, start small ($20–60 price range). Then get feedback and improve.

What does a $100+ course look like?

People will expect a lot more from a higher priced course. It should have in-depth content and professional design, or you’re going to get a lot of requests for refunds. To provide greater value, you can include guest experts, case studies, professional videos, and bonuses.

Authority Academy Pub and courses offered by Marie Forleo are examples of robust courses.

How do you know if your course topic will sell?

One good strategy is to start off with a small course and add upsells. You can also get feedback, so your fans can tell you what else they would like you to create. You can do this by distributing a survey and asking what they want to learn most.

You can also do presells and give discounts. Plus, blog posts that go viral can give you ideas on what courses to create.

What kinds of courses make the most money?

First of all, you need to look at what already sells well. Then start at a low price point and slowly increase. See where you meet resistance, then establish your price threshold accordingly. And keep in mind that courses teaching a profitable skill tend to do better.

What are the specific steps involved in creating your first course?

First, create an outline. What outcome do you want your students to achieve? You can use your book outline to help you. But dig deep and go into detail about each point. Try to make it easy to navigate, sequential, and logical. That way it is easier for you to write your content, and easier for your students to follow along.

Next, write your lessons. Remember to make them clear and concise. Use PowerPoint or Keynote, and use a written guide while you’re recording so you can stay on track. When it comes time to record video, use ScreenFlow or Camtasia for easier recording. (Check out Episode 31 for other useful recording tools.)

Useful plugins and tools:

How do you find buyers for your course? How do you market it?

You will have to drive traffic to your offer. To do this, you can use ads. Google and Facebook both provide ads for paid traffic.

You can also invite affiliates to advertise for you—people who have big followings, and who are well-known in your niche.

Another option is to use ClickBank to offer your course. Gumroad is also effective.

How long should you run a course sale?

There are two options here. First, open and close it regularly to introduce the appearance of scarcity. Marie Forleo launches/opens courses once a year. The other option is to go the evergreen route—you are open all the time, and always selling.

As with all marketing strategies, test, test, test. See what works for your audience, then build on that.

Some people use 7- to 10-day pre-launches, then 5 to 10 days in an open cart.

It is important to remember that people who purchase your course are likely to buy from you again. Build a catalog of courses, just like you would build a catalog of books. Before you know it, you’ll have a second stream of income based on the content you have already created!

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