Last time I wrote about using the Theme Customizer to supplant/add to your existing options. But what if you’re writing a new theme entirely?

Do you even need an options page?

How many options does your theme have, anyway? Would it not make more sense to eschew those complex options pages in favor of just allowing the user to do it all “live”? With the Theme Customizer, this becomes entirely possible. As an added bonus, it also gives us a really handy use for the theme_mod system.

Step 1: Surfacing the Customizer

One thing I don’t like about the theme customizer is how hidden it is. It’s in the Themes selection space, under the strangely worded “Live Preview” option. Let’s bring that to the forefront and make it more visible for our example theme. In our functions.php file:

add_action ('admin_menu', 'themedemo_admin');
function themedemo_admin() {
	// add the Customize link to the admin menu
	add_theme_page( 'Customize', 'Customize', 'edit_theme_options', 'customize.php' );

There we go. Now we have a “Customize” link in the Appearance menu that loads up the customizer. Nice.

(Note, using the “customize.php” link works with the currently active theme only. Adding ?theme=themedemo to it would allow links to customize non-active themes, but this makes no real sense in the theme functions.php file of a theme. But if you were doing a plugin that needed to load the customizer, that might be good to know.)

Step 2: Adding some options

Let’s add some simple options to the theme customizer. How about a text field and, say, a color picker. Why not?

add_action('customize_register', 'themedemo_customize');
function themedemo_customize($wp_customize) {

	$wp_customize->add_section( 'themedemo_demo_settings', array(
		'title'          => 'Demonstration Stuff',
		'priority'       => 35,
	) );

	$wp_customize->add_setting( 'some_setting', array(
		'default'        => 'default_value',
	) );

	$wp_customize->add_control( 'some_setting', array(
		'label'   => 'Text Setting',
		'section' => 'themedemo_demo_settings',
		'type'    => 'text',
	) );

	$wp_customize->add_setting( 'some_other_setting', array(
		'default'        => '#000000',
	) );

	$wp_customize->add_control( new WP_Customize_Color_Control( $wp_customize, 'some_other_setting', array(
		'label'   => 'Color Setting',
		'section' => 'themedemo_demo_settings',
		'settings'   => 'some_other_setting',
	) ) );


We now have “some_setting” and “some_other_setting”. You can tell that I’m being very creative with my naming scheme here. ;)

Note that I didn’t define the “type” for these settings. This means they’ll be the default type, which is “theme_mod”, and that’s perfect for this case. Since we’re providing no other way than the customizer to change these settings, then it’s nice and easy to use them.

Speaking of using them…

Step 3: Use the settings in your theme

Here’s our theme’s index.php file:

<?php get_header(); ?>

<h3>Theme Customizer Demo, using theme_mod and <em>no</em> settings page!</h3>


echo 'some_setting => ' .get_theme_mod( 'some_setting', 'default_value' )."\n";
echo 'some_other_setting => ' .get_theme_mod( 'some_other_setting', '#000000' )."\n";
echo 'non_existent_setting => '.get_theme_mod( 'non_existent_setting', 'default_value' )."\n";


<?php get_footer(); ?>

The header and footer are pretty standard. Nothing special. You can find them in the download. What we’re really concerned with here is how the theme uses the settings themselves.

Notice the use of get_theme_mod. It’s pretty darned easy to use, really. It just gets the settings and uses them however the theme needs to. For this demo, I’m just outputting their contents for demonstration purposes. I also added in a non-existent setting to show that it works and outputs the default value when nothing is set for the theme in the theme_mod system.

The nice thing about theme_mod is that it automatically stores the information in a nice packed way, unique to the theme itself. If you have multiple copies of the same theme on the site, but with different names, each will have its own settings. Easy and handy.

Step 4: There is no step 4.

Seriously, that’s it. You can go further and make the settings work “live” using the postMessage methods I explained in the previous post, but for the most part, there’s nothing more to do. This is a simple and easy way of making settings, using them, and not worrying about complex options pages, settings in the database, where they’re stored… Why do all that extra code if you don’t have to?

Here’s a link to a working theme using the above concepts. For fun, it also supports custom background colors. :)

This is just one example of how to use the core APIs in a somewhat handy way. There’s other ways too. Feel free to experiment.

scamIf you’ve been on the internet for a while, I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of different business opportunities that promise instant riches and whatnots.

Don’t get me wrong, not every “make money on the internet” product is bad or deceptive. There are people out there who sell truly quality products that can really help you expand your online presence and make you some money.


Not everyone is that honest. This is why I’m writing this post – to list some of the most common mistakes people make that cause them to fall for a work at home (work on the internet) scam.

1. Believing in overnight riches

Since overnight riches is what we all want, it’s quite easy to trick us into believing that it’s indeed possible. And I’m not saying it’s not, what I am saying, though, is that I don’t see a reason for someone to share such information through a $47 e-book…

There are people who became rich overnight, but it wasn’t about luck, wasn’t about finding a loophole, and surely wasn’t about buying a cheap e-book and then implementing the advice from it.

Everyone who seems as an overnight success has gotten there through dedicated work (sometimes for years) and persistence, until they could finally reap the benefits.

There’s a book called “279 Days to Overnight Success.” Think you should give it a look.

2. Believing you don’t need any skills

This is one of the most common things marketers mention in their promotional materials.

For example: “This product has been created for a complete beginner. You don’t need any skills, and if you start today, you’ll see results as soon as tomorrow.

Sorry, but this is B.S.

Making money does not require many skills, but it surely requires some. Whether you have them already or have to acquire them over time, some skills will be needed. If someone says that you don’t need any, they’re lying.


3. Believing in autopilot riches

This is the most ridiculous thing out there people end up believing in. Does this sound familiar: “just start our software, press play and you’ll get tens of campaigns built instantly, each making you money on autopilot” …?

There’s no such thing as autopilot riches. If you believe in it, then you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.

Picture this, if autopilot profits were possible then why would anyone be willing to share it, instead of just firing up their own piece of software 100 times simultaneously and making 100x more money? Why do they decide to make the software available for $47 instead?

4. Falling for stock testimonials

Testimonials are a great marketing method, I have to admit. If you can get some real testimonials for your product or service then you can use them as part of your marketing materials. Testimonials create some instant proof that what you’re selling works, and that other people enjoy using it.

However, some marketers on the dark side of the force have decided to use fake testimonials. To put it simply, they fabricate the testimonials and then put a stock photo next to them.

Just in case you don’t know, stock photography is a service where everyone can buy certain pictures and then use them for whatever purpose they wish. The most popular stock photography site is iStockPhoto. If you want to find out what stock photos look like, feel free to have a quick look.

And most importantly, whenever you see a testimonial with a picture of the author that looks like a stock pic, don’t believe in it. Almost next to no people have stock photos of themselves.

5. Falling for videos that “will go down in a minute”

This really angers me. Here’s the story (tell me if it sounds familiar): when you visit a video sales page for some product you’re likely to hear something like this:

Thank you for visiting this page, but I have to be honest with you … you have to take action fast because this video can go down very soon, maybe even the next time you visit this page.

Oh puh-lease… You know how often such videos really get taken down soon…? Never.

Here’s the advice I have for you, and it’s actually what I do every time I hear this dreadful sentence … simply leave the page right away and don’t even wait for the rest of the message.

Everyone who uses this sort of marketing pitch is full of you-know-what. Don’t fall for it.

6. Falling for pop-exit offers

Using pop-exit offers is an interesting trick in today’s internet marketing. The idea is that when a visitor tries to leave the page, a new message pops up announcing a special reduced price (a one-time offer).

This is ultra deceptive. Why all of a sudden the product can be sold for 20% off? Isn’t the price supposed to be connected to development costs, marketing costs, etc.? Apparently not.

The idea, in the marketer’s head is that since someone is trying to leave then they should see a better offer, so some of those people can still be converted into buyers. And it does work, but it’s not okay with everyone else who bough the thing for a higher price.

To conclude this semi-rant let me just say that deceptive marketers are all around the internet, and sometimes it’s difficult to identify them at first sight. But if you just keep in mind the 6 mistakes listed in this post, you will have a much better chance at not falling for some scams.

And most importantly, use your own judgment. Quite simply, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.

Related Posts:

6 Mistakes to Make if You Want to Fall for a Work at Home Scam |


If you’re using WordPress as the platform running your website (like I recommend) then you’re surely aware of all the extensions, plugins, and widgets you can install. Well, I don’t mean that you’re aware of each plugin individually, but you surely know that the possibilities of extending your site are almost endless.

The question, then, is which plugins should you choose? You can’t install too many because that would make your site slower, but at the same time you don’t want to miss out on some cool functionalities, right?

To be honest, here at I don’t use that many plugins. Whenever there’s an opportunity to do something without a plugin I tend to take it. However, some plugins provide such useful functionalities that they simply become a must-have.

This is why I decided to create a list of the top 10 plugins for an online entrepreneur. You can see the list by going to my guest post at WebDesignDev:

The 10 Best WordPress Plugins for Online Entrepreneurs

How many plugins do you use? Maybe it’s time to cut down on some unimportant stuff to make your site load a bit faster… Just a thought.

Related Posts:

10 Top WordPress Plugins for Online Business |

Haters gonna hate – as the poet says.

Should you try to fix it, and turn a hater into a believer? Should you respond? Should you even care?

Essentially, no.


And this is no trick on my part … I really won’t turn it into an advice on how you should always find something constructive when someone criticizes you. You shouldn’t.

Some people are just haters. They don’t care about you, they can’t stand the way you live your life, do your business, or share your thoughts with others. You shouldn’t care about such people. They bring nothing positive to your life.

More than that, you should do everything you can to get even more haters hating on you. Yes I mean it!

Let me quote one of my favorite stand-up comedians – Katt Williams: “if you’ve got 14 people hating on you, you need to figure out how to get to 16 before the summer gets here.

I know that he’s a comedian, but this doesn’t make him wrong. Actually, this is one of the best pieces of advice I ever got.


You’re not taking enough chances

The fact is that if you don’t have a fair number of people hating on you, it means that you’re not taking enough chances with your business, or your blog, or anything else you’re doing.

This is just the way how it is. Success always attracts a group of haters. If there are no haters in your life, it means you haven’t had a true success yet.

Haters as a measure of success … that’s a piece of advice you don’t get every day. :)

I’m not kidding. Just think about it.

What happens if you do really make a change in your niche, by offering a superb product for less money than your competition? Will they hate on you? Likely.

What happens if you discover a scam and get it to the sunlight for everyone to see? Will the people behind it hate you? Surely.

What happens if you simply tell someone to screw off because you’ve had enough of their BS? Will they hate you? You bet.

What I’m trying to say is don’t be afraid of haters. It’s their job to hate.

Besides, there’s no such thing as bad press. If people are talking about you, they are talking about you, no matter what they say.

Just enjoy it. Enjoy the things people are ready to do to let you know that they hate you. Sometimes it gets really creative.


How to get more haters

Simply, do what you’ve been doing so far, but do it better, and don’t be afraid to fail.

Whatever you do, don’t try to please everybody. This is simply not possible. Just a small group of people really happy with the products you’re offering, or the posts you’re publishing, or the opinions you share is enough.

If you try to be all things to all people you end up being nothing to no one. (I know, double negative, but it sounds better this way.)

What I’m trying to say is a little vague so let me give you a more exact guide on what to do to attract haters.

First of all, define who’s your desired target audience – the people you really want to get connected with.

Once you know this you can create a truly tailored message to them (in form of products, posts, other content, or offers) and give them exactly what they want.

And the most important thing – don’t care about anyone else. Care only about the people who matter to you.

Don’t try to create your products or services in a way that they’re suitable for everyone and their dog. Unless, you work for Coca-Cola or something.

And if, hopefully, you find yourself in a situation where someone gets pissed off at you for what you do … well, mission accomplished – you have a hater. Great! Now get another one.

Are you going the right way?

There’s one more thing you should keep in mind. Haters shouldn’t make up the majority of your audience. This is probably not the right path to follow.

However, another thing to keep in mind is that haters are often the most vocal people out there. So they will go a long way to let you know that they hate you, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s more of them than people who actually enjoy what you do.

One final advice on how to make a hater really angry …

Nothing angers a hater more than being laughed at or ignored.

This is great, I’m telling you. Whenever someone hates on you in real life, laugh at them. If it happens online, ignore them. If they email you asking if you’re ignoring them, respond “yes.” This stuff is fun. :)

Please share your own ways of dealing with haters. Do you have any cool tricks on how to make them even more angry? I’m curious to know.

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Why You Should Get as Many Haters as Possible |

onlineThis is a guest post by Shopify.

Are you contemplating the creation of your own online store but are afraid of the pitfalls that can be associated with such stores? If so then this guide will help you to avoid some of the difficulties that can arise during the creation process!

Setting up an online store can be a daunting task. The process of setting up has gotten much simpler over the years but with simplicity comes the added opportunity for problems to arise.

One small problem can render your store obsolete before you even get a chance to fully spread your wings, as your reputation in the market will be tarnished. By meticulously following the tips below entrepreneurs would be able to avoid most of the common problems that can cause a business to fail.

1. Logistics

Insufficient logistic preparation is one of the main reasons new online stores fail in less than a year. Ideally, you will want to have your logistics worked out before you attempt to publish your website and make your products available.

Logistics covers many areas that are very important if you are to have a successful online store. One of the main areas under logistics is stock and stock control, and it would be good practice to have these things in place before you go live on the internet.

You will need a place to safely store your merchandise. You will need all the materials to package and post items sold in your online store. Remember items need to be sent in a reasonable time in order to keep your customers happy, and it would be a good idea to put a cut-off time on your website to let customers know the daily deadline for posting.

2. User testing

Testing of your finished online store should also be thoroughly done before you launch to the public. This will ensure that customers are not faced with any nasty surprises such as blank pages or dead links.

During testing a proofread is also a good option as you do not want your site going live with spelling and grammatical errors intertwined over the pages.

You should also include a contact information page that will allow customers to contact you directly in case something goes wrong with their order.

Programs are even available that will allow you to chat to your customers in real time. These programs come as part of many Content Management Systems, which are an excellent choice as they give you the opportunity to gather real-time feedback from actual visitors/prospective customers to your online store.

3. Security

Security is also an area that entrepreneurs want to research before attempting to sell products online. Without a secure website potential customer will be wary of using their credit and debit card information to place orders from your store.

For websites, encryption is what makes them safe, and you need to ensure that you have a certifiable encrypted area on your website where you can accept payments. If you plan on also accepting payments offline you must ensure that the facilities are in place before they are offered to the public.

Along with the encryption, a firewall and virus-scanning software will be needed, as it will keep your website, including customer details, safe from hackers and other malicious activity that happens online.

4. Design

The design of your website is also very important and should be your main focus after you have organized all the security and logistical issues.

Your website should look as professional as possible, as this inspires customer confidence.

Customers are more likely to feel safe using their banking information on a professionally designed website as compared to a shabby website that looks as though it was created in a matter of minutes with the sole intention of defrauding unsuspecting members of the public.

5. Marketing

After implementing all the above tips/guidelines you should be ready to sell products online in your web store, and now the most important thing for you to focus on are your marketing tactics as these are what attract new customers.

Your tactics can be varied, but you must ensure that customers are aware of your particular tactic or promotion. Simple tactics that you can use are things like offering free shipping for orders above a set threshold, or you could sign up to relevant forums and offer forum members special discount codes for purchases in your online store.

About the author: This article is brought to you by Shopify who are providers of the best hosting solutions and ecommerce cms available on the internet.

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Avoiding Pitfalls When Creating an Online Store |


Launching a new blog and starting the “internet lifestyle” is quite a trendy topic nowadays. With all the recession going on in the background people are on the constant lookout for new opportunities.

But is blogging THE opportunity? Aren’t there other things you can do that will make you money faster, and probably in a more sustainable way? Essentially, there are… So why would you still want to launch a blog?

Find out what I’m on about by checking my guest post at Bloggers Passion. In it, you’ll find a list of the most common reasons for launching a blog (plus why they usually fail), and some advice on how to launch a blog the right way:

Why On Earth Would You Want to Blog?!

What was your main idea for launching a blog, or an online business website? Are you guilty of making any of the mistakes I’ve mentioned in the post above?

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You Want to Become a Blogger?! Why On Earth Would You Want to Do This?! |

This site was originally built by Urban Legend web in 2009 as a stamps show-case, and was re-built in June 2012 to become a fully-fledged e-commerce site.

It’s built on a customised version of the open-source platform OpenCart, which is based on PHP and MySQL. OpenCart allows the site owner, without needing any specialised technical knowledge, to easily add, and edit products, images, and information pages.

Philactica features collectible stamps from all over the world, and particularly Southern Africa, and lists more than 5000 stamps at the time of writing.

There’s an urban legend circulating around the internet about a guitar pick seller from eBay. This seller would offer bags full of guitar picks at ridiculously low prices, instead of offering picks individually one-by-one like other sellers did.


This person has soon become the leader of the “guitar pick” market and wiped out his competition completely. People couldn’t see how he can possibly make money by selling picks at such low prices.

The answer’s: he didn’t make any money.

At least not by selling picks. But he was still a successful entrepreneur. How come?

It’s all about the real market he was in. As it turned out, he wasn’t in the “guitar pick” market, he was actually a member of the “guitar” market.

Every customer of his (every person who bought guitar picks) received some promotional materials regarding guitars and guitar equipment, and they were additionally invited to join a newsletter.

In the end, the guy made his money by selling guitars, and picks were just an entry-level product…

What’s the lesson here?

Get a friggin’ entry-level product!

The trick here is this, sometimes people need to be invited into your marketing funnel by making the smallest possible purchase (like buying guitar picks).

Then once you have the person, you can sell them on additional, more expensive equipment.

There are only two steps to introducing an entry-level product, and they are as follows.

1. Identifying the product

First of all, it needs to be something cheap, and at the same time it needs to prequalify your customers for your next offerings.

Let’s use the guitar example again. Guitar picks are a perfect entry-level product. Whoever buys them certainly plays a guitar. So once we have such certainty we can confidently start to promote all kinds of guitar equipment, and because of this narrow targeting we are likely to get good conversions.

Start by looking at your current product or range of products, and try to distinguish one single element that would be useful on its own and could be sold at low price.

Another way is to look at what your competition is selling within your niche. Can you offer the same things at low prices? If so, do it.

Finally, you can do a brainstorming session and come up with some new (small) products that your audience could consider useful.

Since you’re probably doing business through your own site (not eBay) you don’t even have to be cheaper than your competition. Your offer just has to be noticeably attractive.

Once you have the product identified the only thing left to do is have it created.

2. Creating and selling it

Your entry-level product should be cheap to produce (to get) and cheap to deliver to your customers.

(It’s probably something I should have mentioned in the previous point, anyway.)

If you run an online business and all of your products are digital then creating a new one shouldn’t be that challenging for you. You can always outsource the work to minimize costs and maximize your free time.

When it comes to selling, what’s important is to make your “entry-level product” really the entry level to your offerings…

Bear with me, here’s what I mean: You should focus significant part of your marketing attention on this new entry-level product. Make it the first thing people buy when doing business with you.

Now the most important thing. Almost immediately follow it with an additional promotion and an email newsletter signup invitation. That way you’re building your list of buyers, and at the same time you can get some immediate monetization by selling your first upsell.

Selling your main product

After you’ve convinced someone to join your newsletter you can promote additional products whenever you want (within reason, obviously). Email promotions work very well, as long as they’re not run too often, so make sure to keep your newsletter content-heavy, instead of promotion-heavy.

You can use all the marketing methods you’ve been using earlier to promote your main product. Your entry-level product is just an additional way of bringing people through the door, not a substitution for your previous methods.

However, chances are that selling your main product to someone who has already bought your entry-level will be significantly easier than selling it to someone completely new … and that’s the whole idea.

Entry-level products can also work great as bonuses for joint venture products (or for affiliate products). Picture this, since you already have an entry-level product, and it’s cheap to produce, why not giving it away as a bonus to go along with another, bigger product? This can only increase your conversions.

Do you have an entry-level product yet? If so, what is it (if you don’t mind sharing)?

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Revealed: Why Having an Entry-level Product Can Make Your Business |

WordPress 3.4.1 is now available for download. WordPress 3.4 has been a very smooth release, and copies are flying off the shelf — 3 million downloads in two weeks! This maintenance release addresses 18 bugs with version 3.4, including:

  • Fixes an issue where a theme’s page templates were sometimes not detected.
  • Addresses problems with some category permalink structures.
  • Better handling for plugins or themes loading JavaScript incorrectly.
  • Adds early support for uploading images on iOS 6 devices.
  • Allows for a technique commonly used by plugins to detect a network-wide activation.
  • Better compatibility with servers running certain versions of PHP (5.2.4, 5.4) or with uncommon setups (safe mode, open_basedir), which had caused warnings or in some cases prevented emails from being sent.

Version 3.4.1 also fixes a few security issues and contains some security hardening. The vulnerabilities included potential information disclosure as well as an bug that affects multisite installs with untrusted users. These issues were discovered and fixed by the WordPress security team.

Download 3.4.1 now or visit Dashboard → Updates in your site admin to update now.

Green was a bit green
We have hardened it up some
Update WordPress now

booksThis part of the series is going to be a little different. That’s because online courses are not a separate, individual business model on their own. Instead, they are a combination of other models.

What online courses are

Like you would imagine, it’s an educational product. One where the customer can learn a new skill by following the course.

What differs them from standard products like we discussed in one of the previous parts in this series is that online courses are much more than just a single item. They consist of different elements, delivered in different ways.

For example, an online course about web design might contain elements like: a PDF textbook containing all the theoretical information, a schedule of all the lessons and their topics, a printable PDF workbook with some exercises, a set of online quizzes, a weekly scheduled consultation via Skype, packages of software, packages of resources (like: icons, stock graphics, etc.), web design templates, a set of tutorial videos, some bonus subscriptions to web design magazines, and so on.

As you can see, an online course can contain a lot of stuff. Of course, it’s up to you to decide how much or how little you want to include.

(But please, don’t start selling something and calling it an online course if it’s just one half-baked e-book. Oh yes, I know some people do this. STOP!)

There are two main types of online courses:

  • A complete, out-of-the-box course that isn’t time limited in any way. It’s simply a package of content and resources that the customer gets all at once, and can use whenever they want.
  • A time limited, subscription based (monthly rebill) course. This can be the same content, but delivered in parts over time, usually on a tight schedule. This forces the customer to participate in the course in a way that’s similar to a real world course, where you actually have to attend a class on an exact hour and day.

In essence, an online course should contain everything a customer might need to learn a particular skill. If you want to create a truly valuable course, nothing should be left out.

The main value in a course isn’t the content itself but the fact that it has been prepared by a professional who can take a customer by the hand and guide them through the whole topic in question. A well thought out process of teaching is the real value of any course.

Advantages of offering online courses

The first advantage is that online courses are usually expensive. And this goes for ones sold as one time offers as well as those that are subscription based.

If the topic is really attractive and touches upon an important issue for your customers, they can pay anything between $300 and $2000 for the course. It all depends on the kind of customers you’re marketing to, and your actual marketing skills.

Another advantage is that really good and quality courses have some aspect of virality to them. If your course is truly exceptional and helps your customers achieve their goals, then they will be happy to share this with other people. This can give you an additional boost.

That being said, if, by any way, your course ends up being not so good you can be sure that people will spread the word too. So be careful not to shoot yourself in the foot.

If you choose the topic of your course wisely, and make sure that it’s evergreen then you can sell it for years to come; more on this in a minute.

A good online course can define your brand and turn you into the market leader. Think about it, if you’re the one offering the best online course on {whatever} this makes you THE expert in that field. This creates a lot of other opportunities for making money.

If your course is truly good then you can also attract a lot of affiliates who will be happy to promote it. Affiliates are always looking for quality products they can honestly recommend to their audiences. Of course, you also have to offer a healthy affiliate commission if you want to get anyone interested.

Some downsides to online courses

There’s one really serious downside. Because of the standard size of such things it takes time to create them, and this time also costs money.

Actually, the most difficult situation you can find yourself in is when you spend months creating an online course only to find out that no one is that interested in it. Such a scenario might even mean the end of your business. Especially if you’ve invested a significant amount of money in the whole thing.

To be honest, this is something that’s truly difficult to protect against. Usually, only the biggest and most recognizable brands have such abilities. For a completely different example, if you decide to release a new MP3 player you never know if it’s truly going to work or not, but if Apple decides to launch a new iPod they can estimate the possible number of sales pretty accurately.

Unfortunately, for us (people who are not global massive brands) launching anything is always an unknown, and this is what makes it truly challenging. And it gets even more difficult if we’re deciding to spend months on creating something as big as a complete course.

That being said, there are always steps we can take to improve our chances of success.


Where to start if you want to create an online course

Research – the most important phase of creating an online course.

I know that sometimes we simply like to start working on something because we’ve had this idea and we think that it’s certain to work and make us rich. No, it’s not. It’s just our own impression and nobody else’s (at this point). To find out if other people are also that excited we need to do some research.

First of all, I’m sure you have some ideas so start with them. Try to come up with 3-5 ideas and do some research around them.

Things to look for/do:

  • Keyword research (Google Keyword Tool) to find out if people are searching for the keywords describing your course. For example, for web design courses simply start with, wait for it … “web design course,” or “web design online course.” If people are actively searching for these terms, it’s a good indicator.
  • Look for competition. Is there anyone else offering something similar? Competition is good. Don’t fall into a trap of following an nonexistent niche. If there’s competition it means that other people are already making money, so you can always join in and make money too.
  • Look for communities. Things like forums, message boards, blogs, etc. The presence of communities means that there are people actively interested in the topic.
  • Try to aim for a topic that’s evergreen. An evergreen topic is one that won’t fade into the past too quickly. For example, if you create a course on how to fix an XBOX 360 error, then very soon it can become insignificant when there’s a new XBOX around. Our example, a course on web design, may not be the best idea either. I mean, the principles remain the same, that’s true, but the trends change quite often.
  • Try to find affiliate programs for similar products. You can go to Clickbank or any other affiliate market. Some businesses offer their own in-house affiliate programs, so look around. Affiliate programs are a great indication that the niche and the topic are lively, and that people are engaged in them from both sides (customers and marketers).

The next thing to do is to join an affiliate program and pick a test product to promote yourself.

When you promote someone else’s product, you can estimate how much money can be made in the niche you’re in. You can also see how responsive people are to some marketing materials. This is all valuable knowledge before launching your own product.

After a while you can tell if there’s any real interest in the topic, and if the niche is worthy of launching your own product in it.

When it comes to the creation phase itself it’s good to start by brainstorming all the possible ingredients that would be valuable as part of the course.

Try to create a list of all possible elements, similar to the one that I shared as an example earlier in this post.

Some possibilities; things like: schedules, videos, audios, phone consultations, textbooks, workbooks, resources, software, quizzes, templates, subscriptions, etc.

Basically, and let me emphasize this again, everything your customer might need to get to the ultimate result of mastering a given skill.

Once you have your course ready it’s time to market it, promote it and essentially get some customers.

There’s one more part of this series waiting in line, and it’s about promoting various business models. Even though there are many ways of making money as an online business, the actual promotion is often very similar for most business models.

But for now, don’t hesitate to tell me what you think about the idea of selling online courses. Is it something that can work for you?

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Online Business Models Explained: Online Courses |