With video course industry on the rise, many people - myself included - have tried this way of making a side income. In this post we’ll discuss how to make your courses better, by a simple shift in focus.

Before we even begin discussing why we need to shift focus to our customer - we should dispell the myth of passive income from video courses.

The Dream of Passive Income From Online Courses

By very definition, side hustlers are strapped for time and money. It’s a tough spot. How can we create anything of any value, when we severely lack resources?

No wonder most side hustlers focus on passive income. Why?

Because they don’t have enough time to focus on building truly amazing products.

Add to that a number of famous internet marketers who suggest the “earn while sleeping” business models.

And now combine it with creating online courses.

What you get is course authors with the set-and-forget mentality.

I’ll just record my course, publish it online, and forget about it. It will bring in some sales long after I’ve finished recording, so that’s what I’m hoping for. Passive income heaven!

Unfortunately, that dream is far from reality.

In reality, this is what happens:

  1. You record a mediocre course.
  2. You start getting some sales.
  3. You know your course is sub-par, so you improve it a bit.
  4. You start getting some more sales.
  5. Things happen at work, you’re too stressed, and you start to burn out.
  6. You put off your course improvement for ‘when things settle down’.
  7. Things indeed do settle down in a few weeks. However, you’ve lost your momentum.
  8. You keep waiting for the ‘perfect entry’ to get back to work.
  9. In the meantime, other people jump onto the bandwagon, and record courses that are better than yours.
  10. Your passive income stream dries up.

How do I know this? It happened to my courses.

In my defence, I understand why I drank the cool-aid. Everybody online kept talking about ‘passive income’: You work hard now, so you don’t have to work hard later.

What they meant to say was:

You work hard for 20 thousand hours of every minute of your spare time, for possibly the next 10 years, and then, if you survive the experience and are still alive, you can relax, and not have to work hard.

Whoaa there tiger! If any of these gurus said it like this, I would have probably thought twice about even starting the project.

On the bright side, if I didn’t take it so lightly, I would not have begun. If I didn’t record the course, as lousy as it was, I would not have gotten the experience I needed. I probably would never have understood that I’ve been lied to about the passive income thing.

Well, not really lied to, but close enough to say: ‘This is not what I signed up for’.

This brings us to a conclusion: You can’t record mediocre courses, because they will bring mediocre results.

A mediocre course results in a mediocre income stream. Let’s see what Will Smith says about it:

So, as we can see, he wasn’t really talking about online course creation process, but we can still apply what we learned to it.

To paraphrase the video, what Will Smith says is:

At center of fruition of any course, is self-discipline. Recording a mediocre course is not in your own best interest. Don’t stop yourself from recording that AMAZING course.

So, there you have it. You can’t record a lousy course and expect to make money. As far as the passive income goes - yes, you will get there - IF you survive 10 years of doing 2 jobs non-stop. Who said side hustling was easy?

Are You Helping Your Students, Or Are You Just Selling them Stuff?

Focus on Your Students.

Random people buy your course, they become your students.

Students complete your course, they become achievers.

They become achievers thanks to you.

If they achieve more success from your course than what they paid for it, then they will come back. Once they do, you’ve got yourself a repeat customer.

Thus, your goal is not passive income. What does that even mean?

Your goal is: from random people, to students, to achievers, to repeat customers.

That’s how you - in the words of Seth Godin - build a tribe.

How do you turn random strangers to repeat customers? You focus on helping them solve their problems - which turns them into achievers.

To turn your students into achievers, you need to help them achieve tangible results.