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How to Use Online Courses to Generate 6-Figure Passive Income

I used to think passive income was hard to generate. I read dozens of books on the subject, watched free webinars, and spent hours trying to figure out how I could make money in my sleep. It wasn’t until I started traveling the world full time And start my own online coaching business that I realized that passive income isn’t as hard to come by as I initially thought. I’ve met entrepreneurs from all over the world who have shown me first-hand that there are many ways to earn income passively, the most popular being online courses.

One such entrepreneur is Paul Thomson, a 30-year-old Australian who created an online business that allows six-, seven-, and even eight-figure business owners to create and sell online courses. Specifically, he’s helped dozens of entrepreneurs of all skill levels share their expertise in the online space, grow their businesses, and make money in the process.

Thomson discusses the importance of online courses in today’s digital landscape, how to leverage courses to grow a business, and best practices for getting started on the path to passive income:

Celinne Da Costa: What led you to get into online education?

Paul Thomson: I grew up in a small town in Australia before completing my Bachelor of Secondary Education and Creative Industries in Brisbane. I then taught in high schools for seven years and loved it. I got a huge sense of satisfaction from seeing young children develop and playing a small part in shaping their futures.

During those years, I was a strong advocate for integrating technology into the classroom. The education system seemed outdated, with teachers writing notes on the board and asking students to copy them into their notebooks. I worked to help my fellow teachers create educational experiences in a scalable format, and I did so by speaking at events, writing articles about educational technology, and becoming one of Microsoft’s Innovative Educators. By making other teachers’ jobs easier, I was able to improve the educational experience for more students.

Photography by Florian Meyer

Da Costa: Why did you make the transition from being a teacher to becoming an online business owner?

Thomson: At 27, I was in the final stages of interviewing to become a school principal when I was presented with the unique opportunity to join a social media technology startup. While I was happy teaching, working from anywhere in the world with unlimited paid time off and access to the Silicon Valley startup scene was a dream job I couldn’t pass up. As a teacher, I loved inspiring my students to take risks, chase their dreams, and push their boundaries beyond expectations, and I felt I could continue to do that in the tech field.

I quickly realized that I had a talent for my new role of customer advocacy and technical support. I was able to effortlessly draw on my education background to teach customers how to get the most out of the product, I enjoyed solving complex problems that came into our inbox, and I put my love of technology and coding to even greater use.

Two years later, I decided I wanted to travel the world. Since the company was completely remote, I went to Bali and fell head over heels in love with an American woman. It turned out she was a very successful business coach and my skills matched the areas of her business she needed help with. I was still working forty hours a day at my current job while she had a completely flexible schedule. After much thought, I decided to take another leap of faith and join her company. Leaving behind my friends, colleagues, and job security to work for a woman I had only met a few months before was a terrifying decision to make, but I was ready to go all in on my dreams.

I immediately fell in love with entrepreneurship. Working in depth with online entrepreneurs, I learned a lot about how they structured their businesses and the type of products and services they sold. I saw many of them turn to online courses to grow their business and earn passive income. But they didn’t know how to start integrating their skills into an online course format and struggled with the technical side of it.

I realized that my skillset was a perfect fit for aspiring course creators. I could easily distill their complex services into an educational, engaging, and useful format, and I had the technical knowledge to bring their course to life. If we could design it, I could build it.

Da Costa: Is it possible for anyone to monetize their natural skills, and how?

Thomson: Absolutely! Most of the time, we assume that the people around us are more skilled than we are. In reality, we are all more talented than we think and we have skills that others around us aspire to have.

Traditionally, we share our knowledge online through blogs, videos, social media content, and podcasts. You’ve probably produced some of this content yourself at some point: maybe it was a Facebook post, a YouTube channel, or a blog sharing advice on a particular topic. You are a master of your own art and have skills that other people want to learn. Perhaps it’s time for you to think about how you could potentially bring together your ideas, skills and knowledge into an online course format.

According to Teachable, Online teaching is one of the most effective and accessible ways to make money online in 2017. Successful online entrepreneur Tai Lopez also highlighted the economic boom of online education: Over the past four years, the market has doubled in value. It is on track to exceed $1 trillion in the near future.” . “ Everyday people are taking advantage of the rise of online courses and turning their knowledge into passive income generating machines! Udemy alone has over 35,000 instructors teaching 80,000 different courses to 24,000,000 students.

You can create a course out of anything. Are people constantly asking you for your recipes, travel recommendations, or any other type of advice? There’s no limit to what you can teach. You’re probably already teaching people right now and you don’t even realize it.

Da Costa: What were the biggest challenges in building your online business?

Thomson: The biggest challenge I encounter is that people don’t know where to start. They have this idea that online courses have to be perfect before they’re ready to market, but that’s not the case. Most of the time, we are our own worst critics. For example, I felt unprepared and unqualified throughout all of my career transitions. I always found a way to put myself down even when others were praising me and the evidence was in my favor. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and look for evidence to support our imposter syndrome.

When I look back, I realize that I continue to succeed because I take risks and challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone. If I hadn’t taken so many leaps of faith, I would never have been able to build the lifestyle I have today: working from anywhere in the world and helping other people earn an income in their own businesses. I remember the day I saw a course I was coaching reach $179,000 in sales before the cart closed. Another client had sold premium seats in his course for $4,500. I’ve built businesses, meetups, cyberbullying, and even eyelash extension classes, which made me realize that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, put your heart into it, and believe in yourself.even when you doubt and are afraid.

When you’re starting out with online courses or your own business, it’s normal to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. My advice is to get over your self-doubt as quickly as possible. Accept and follow your intuition, find evidence for all the areas in which you are competent and focus on the parts you are good at. More importantly, surround yourself with people who support youand you will grow much faster than you can imagine.

Da Costa: What advice would you give to people looking to create their first course?

Thomson: To get started developing your own online course, make sure you cover these three areas:

Research and validation

  1. Get to know yourself: what are your hobbies? What professional experience have you gained over the years? What do people ask you all the time?
  2. Study your audience: Who are you talking to? Who is your ideal customer? What is their problem?
  3. Develop the solution or transformation: Once you have identified who you serve and what their problem is, what is the solution to their problem or transformation to get them from point A to point B?
  4. Validate your course idea early on: ask questions, send surveys/quizzes to refine your positioning, and track responses. You’ll want to create content based on your solution and continually test it with your audience to see if it’s useful. You should also consider generating interest through opt-ins and lead magnets.

Built it.

  1. Plan your modules, lessons, and resources. Work backwards with the end in mind: What steps do your students need to take to learn what you’re trying to teach?
  2. Record and produce the content.
  3. Sign up on Thinkific or Teachable to host your course content. If you don’t have your own audience to sell your courses to, use Udemy.

Launch it.

  1. Create buzz by marketing the transformation (not the course itself).
  2. Create a waitlist to secure targeted leads and nurture them via email before your launch.
  3. Offer bonuses and discounts for early purchases.

By repeating these steps, you can be well on your way to financial freedom: the more profitable courses you generate, the greater your passive income will be. Remember, you are only limited by your imagination and the ambition you have to achieve your dreams. A life on your terms is possible once you build on your skills, so start building!

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