How to create online courses that sell – Interview with Miguel Hernandez by Tim Cooper


I was interviewed by Tim Cooper from about creating, marketing, and selling courses online on my own and platforms like Udemy.

If you have ever considered creating an online course and making money teaching online I think you’ll find this audio interview very interesting!

Audio of the full interview:

(You can download the full mp3 file here.)

You can also listen to the interview on iTunes here:

Interview transcription:

Intro: Hello and welcome to “Online Courses That Sell”, where experts share their
experience and knowledge to help fast track you to online success.

I’m Tim Cooper. In mid-2014 I decided trading hours for money just wasn’t for me. I created my first online course which went live on December 30. During the process I learnt a number of new skills and I’m far more confident when it comes to creating online courses. In February 2015 I started a new project called which will become a resource full of tips and tricks as well as free and paid training programs for those looking to create an online passive income through course development.

During this call we’re going to be covering some very important key aspects of online product creation. We’ll be discussing topic selection, how to outline and plan your course content, how to produce your course, where to publish it and some tips on promoting. So let’s get on with the interview.

Tim Cooper: Today I’m talking with Miguel Hernandez, founder and C.E.O. of Grumo Media. I first came across Miguel and he’s course “How to Create an Awesome Online Course” on Udemy back in mid-2014 when I was looking for guidance on how to create my own online course.

What really hit me when going through Miguel’s material was not only his passion but you can see he loves every moment. He draws you in and entertains you while delivering top quality content.

Miguel has got the points on the board. He’s a top rated Udemy instructor having sold thousands of his courses on various platforms and with that being said I’d like to welcome Miguel to the call. Welcome Miguel.

Miguel Hernandez: Hello, it’s a pleasure to be on your show.

Tim Cooper: Thank you, it’s an awesome honour to have you here with us today. So let’s get started and can I ask you at what point did you discover the potential in creating your own online courses?

Miguel Hernandez: Well that would be back in 2010. I just had started my animation studio Grumo Media. I came across this interview at a show called, it’s an online podcast that interviews successful founders. In this interview I heard about this girl, her name is Laura Roeder.

Basically she was twenty five years old and she was already making close to US$300,000 a year selling online courses. Teaching very basic stuff like how to use social media, Facebook and Twitter and I thought man that’s pretty amazing. I’m sure I could create a course where I could teach people some of my skills, and my skills are in animation. So I decided to create a very thorough course on how to create demo videos, that’s exactly what we do here at Grumo Media and that’s how basically the idea came to create that first course.

Tim Cooper: Awesome. That’s fantastic. So can you just give us a little rundown of
how you’ve built on through that and where you are now, the number of students you’ve got and your average income level through online courses?

Miguel Hernandez: Oh, of course. So right now I have eight courses on Udemy. I also post them on other places but Udemy’s my main source of income for online courses.

Total students on Udemy, I surpassed ten thousand students I think about a month ago. I also have students through my website so I think in total I probably have close to 15,000 students across my website and other platforms and Udemy.

In terms of monthly income, it goes up and down but I would say on average about six to eight thousand dollars US in selling courses.

Tim Cooper: That’s amazing, there is really a big market for online learning these days. So what would you say are the main benefits of creating your own online courses?

Miguel Hernandez: Well there are two benefits. I mean the obvious one is that if you put a price to any product online, an informational product, then you can have the benefit of a passive source of income. Because once you create the animation, it’s going to take you maybe a couple weeks, a month to put it together. But if it’s a good product it will sell. Then you have the benefit of I did this product and now it is generating income

The other benefit is just the satisfaction of sharing knowledge about something you’re passionate (about). It’s kind of like leaving a digital legacy. Some people write books, some people make sculptures, some people build bridges, and if you work on the internet sharing your knowledge in a digital format it is kind of like leaving a legacy. Also helping other people to create stuff, to learn stuff, and I think that’s very satisfying.

Tim Cooper: Yes, I agree. That’s fantastic. Now one question that comes up a lot is can anybody create an online course?

Miguel Hernandez: That’s like can anybody be an actor. I think anybody can create a course. Now how good the course is, that may be a different story, right?

But I think the main key ingredients to create an online course is you have to know the subject and you’ve got to be very passionate about it. Also a lot of people are not comfortable being in front of a camera or recording their voice. So at the beginning it will be hard. But if you get over that and you’re passionate about what you’re teaching you can create a very compelling course.

And people are very forgiving. My courses I make several mistakes and I have eight courses, but I wouldn’t consider myself a professional teacher. I never went to school in order to learn how to teach. But I think being genuine and relaxed in the camera and passionate is the most important thing. So if you have those ingredients you can be successful as an instructor online for sure.

Tim Cooper: Awesome and what sort of advice would you give to somebody who’s saying, “Look I want to teach something, I’ve got these skills but I just don’t know what topic to teach. I’m worried that it’s not going to sell. I’m worried that nobody’s going to be interested in the course”.

What sort of advice would you give somebody who’s asking you those questions?

Miguel Hernandez: Well I get those questions asked all the time specifically because one of my courses is teaching people how to create courses. So then people are asking like “What skills do I need?”, “What software do I need?”, and the reality is that you need so little.

The learning curve is actually pretty low compared to other skills that you could want, like learning how to program or something like that.

Creating an online course all you need is a laptop, which now are very
affordable. Ideally a laptop with a webcam, which most of them come with. Then you just need a couple of pieces of software, one that records your screen and your webcam and then another one that allows you to edit the video and that’s pretty much it.

So there’s really not that many skills or technical skills or equipment that you need to get started. Obviously if you want to get to the next level you can get more professional equipment like video equipment and an expensive microphone or something like that. But really the entry level is so easy that I think almost anybody could do it.

Tim Cooper: Yes, I’d have to agree with that. When I did my first course I did a mixture of talking head, on camera stuff and screen casting. For the on camera stuff I used to mix between my smartphone and also a head mounted Gopro because I was demonstrating stuff. So very cheap, and then I was just using a $40 headset microphone for the screen casting. So it’s not a lot of money to get started.

Miguel Hernandez: Yeah.

Tim Cooper: You say that you’ve got eight courses.

Miguel Hernandez: Yes.

Tim Cooper: How do you select a hot topic that you know I is actually going to sell and be popular?

Miguel Hernandez: Well, I don’t select them much because I think they’re going to be popular. I mean I try to, because I’m going to devote time. I’m going to invest time in producing it, I want to make sure that eventually it’s going to sell. But the reality is that I created eight courses and none of them have been very successful. I’d say the “How to Create Demo Videos” and the “How to Create Online Courses” are quite successful but the other ones are not that successful.

I think the strategy could be something like this. Make sure that you are very passionate and knowledgeable about what you’re teaching. Because even if there are other courses that are similar, if yours has really good quality then that will allow you to attract more people. It’s like everything, it’s like YouTube videos, there’s a million of them but most of them are pretty crappy. So if you put more effort and passion into it you’re likely to produce a product that can differentiate itself from the others and attract more clients.

Now there are topics that are more popular than others depending on what’s popular at that time. For example programming courses are super popular and those are at Udemy, probably the top sellers. But the problem is now there are so many of them it’s very hard to differentiate yourself. It’s the same with creating web development or creating websites and stuff like that right.

I created a course on “How to Start a Website With WordPress” and it’s done okay, but not even close to the sales of my first two other courses. So it’s kind of
tricky how to select a topic. Definitely I think you could teach anything if you weren’t an expert as long as you do a lot of research and then you provide a lot of value.
Also that you present the information in a way that is entertaining and it’s fun to watch and very informative.

It also helps, I mean there’s many variables, but it also helps how you write your sales page, the thumbnail on your course, the pricing, that you are very quick at responding to any questions. So you know, the more effort you put into all of those aspects the higher your sales will be for sure.

Tim Cooper: Awesome, yeah. And I do notice with your courses you are high energy and entertaining and that is a big thing. You actually do draw the student in and get their attention which is a big thing.

Miguel Hernandez: Yeah I think that’s a big thing. I mean I’m just being myself so that helps. But I think it’s very important.

Before I started doing my first course I thought, what did I like about my teachers and what I didn’t like. I thought if I was ever going to be a teacher I would try not to be boring. Because I sat through lectures and everybody has where you’re like “Oh my God when is this thing going to be over?” And I don’t want to be one of those guys that just sits down with a monotone voice and just delivers information. Which could be very valuable information. But if it’s delivered like it’s something very boring like a history documentary or something like that, then people are going to get bored.

And the reality is that we have an opportunity now to mix both entertainment and education and that’s something that I think helps people be more interested.

Tim Cooper: Yes, absolutely. Now do you outsource any of your course creation tasks or do you do everything by yourself?

Miguel Hernandez: I do everything by myself because like I say really you need so little equipment to do it that it’s pretty simple to do it yourself, even without much technical skills.

It can get very tedious if you have a big course. My average course has about seventy lectures, each lecture is anywhere from five to ten minutes. So we’re talking a lot of videos. A lot of videos that you have to record, edit, compress and upload.
Those are the steps and every step takes time. So when you multiply that for fifty, seventy times and then when you make a mistake you have to fix it and all of that, well you’re talking several hours or days of just tedious work. That’s what makes it a little bit challenging.

Tim Cooper: No, I’ve been there. When you’re shooting something and all of a sudden you realise you’re not recording. That’s always fun. Okay, so what would you advise somebody as the first step when it comes to creating a successful online course?

Miguel Hernandez: The first step, okay. The first step is choose a topic. So what I do personally, I have a spreadsheet with a list of topics that I think I will enjoy teaching and I think that I have certain skills already in them that I could teach and make up a pretty reasonable course. So what I do, I have that list then and I keep looking back at it. I also look at the market and the other courses and what other people are charging for similar courses. Then eventually I settle on one.

Now this is for new courses, because like I said when I did my first course it was very easy to choose. It was like okay I have an animation studio, I’m going to teach how to do animations.

Now but if you’re not sure of how to get started or you have many different
ideas that’s one way, just keep a list on a spreadsheet and just keep thinking about it and doing research on all those different topics. You should give yourself a deadline on when to settle down (on a topic) because what happens with most of these things is like “Oh I want to have a course”, and then you never get to it because you get too busy or whatever. So it’s important to say “Okay, maybe by the end of this month I’m going to settle down on a topic and that’s what I’m going to do”, and then you start developing that specific course. So that’s one way.

Tim Cooper: Awesome. And obviously deadlines are important otherwise it will go on and on forever and never get there.

Miguel Hernandez: Exactly

Tim Cooper: As you’ve already mentioned putting a course together is a big job.

Miguel Hernandez: Yes

Tim Cooper: So what tips and tricks can you give for outlining and structuring your course content?

Miguel Hernandez: Well I have a specific way which I teach on my course but it’s pretty straightforward. I love Excel and the spreadsheets so I pretty much run my business with spreadsheets which seems to be pretty common among Internet entrepreneurs. But I did the same thing for courses. I open an Excel sheet and then I create for each course columns which are going to be a section or a chapter. Then under each of those columns I have a title for each of the lectures.

So if I have a seventy lectures total. Let’s say that for each chapter I have ten lectures. So each column is going to be a chapter and each row is going to be a lesson. Then next to each title for each lesson what I do is I mark whether it’s completed or not. And that way you can keep track of how much you have done and how much you have left to do in a very simple way.

So basically you look at the spreadsheet and in one look you can have a sense of how big it’s going to be, the entire task, and how much you’ve progressed. That helps you all the time situate yourself on how big a project is and to progress.
Because you see it there visually. So that’s my system.

Tim Cooper: And how important do you think it is to actually appear in front of the camera? That’s one thing that people try to steer away from and just do straight screen casting.

Miguel Hernandez: I think it depends on the person. It works for me but it also depends on what kind of course you’re doing. I think if for example you want to speak directly to your students and address them because you’re talking about something that is not related to what you’re showing on the screen or maybe you just want to make a point, I think it’s important they can see your face.

There are advantages in people seeing your face besides that, in that they will develop a stronger emotional connection with the instructor. I mean you always like to know who you paid money to learn from and also who is this person that is teaching me. Is it just a voice? Well a voice is always going to come from a human being. Who is the human being that I’m listening to for all these hours?

So once they see that face I think it helps people to trust you more. And to be more willing to listen to you and to remember you as well, which are great things. If you have more than one course, when or if they see your face again or they remember who you were they’ll be more likely to buy more courses from you.

But I mean, sometimes you don’t want to show your face. In my courses sometimes I show it and sometimes I don’t. I try not to show it if I think it’s going to distract too much from what I’m talking about. For example, in programming courses the ones that I’ve enjoyed the most, they don’t actually have a face. Because you have to be so focused on the code that seeing somebody else’s face while you’re trying to decipher what’s going on the screen would be distracting.

So you really have to use common sense whether you use your webcam to record your face or not. But I think overall, whichever course or topic you choose, sometime during the course people should see your face.

I think specifically at the beginning when you’re introducing your course so they can get a sense of who you are like “My name is Miguel Hernandez, I’m an instructor, I do this because X and Y and I hope you really enjoy this course”. And there you go, people already saw your face, they know who they’re listening to and now maybe you can turn off the camera and let people concentrate on what you’re teaching on the screen.

And then at the very end of the course I think it’s also good to say good bye and for people to see your face and have a sense of closure. I know it’s hard for a lot of people to be in front of a camera but if you do the effort I think the benefits outweigh any possible fears that you may have.

Tim Cooper: That’s very true. I know myself that I do appear on camera at the beginning and at the end. I do on camera work during the course but you don’t necessarily see my face because I’m demonstrating a physical skill. But yeah definitely it’s good to make that connection I believe as well.

Let’s briefly touch on some techie stuff because I know people get bogged down on what sort of microphone and software, and can they shoot off their smartphone and how to embed videos into presentations. The list of excuses and queries is endless. I’d like to ask you how you got over all that techie stuff and how you got beyond it all and got your course to market.

Miguel Hernandez: Okay. I was lucky because I already work in an industry that kind of forces me to be somewhat techie. I was producing videos and animations so everything video or audio I already knew.

But I still wanted to make it as simple for me as possible because I know working in the industry how complex and expensive equipment can get and software. So I’m like well you know I don’t know if this is going to go anywhere so I’m going to do the minimal investment and get the maximum possible quality. And the good thing is that because technology now is so awesome and so affordable you can get really good quality audio and video without having to spend a lot of money.

So I really went for the minimum possible investment and nobody has really complained about the quality of my videos. I know they could be a lot better but in the end people I think focus more on, “can I hear properly?”, “Can I see properly?”, and “Is this delivered in a way that I can follow and understand and it’s entertaining?”

So as long as you meet those criteria I don’t think you worry too much about spending too much money on equipment. I personally just use a MacBook Pro that is about three years old now and that’s all I basically need in terms of hardware. It’s fast enough, it encodes video fantastically, it has a webcam that is high definition and it comes with embedded stereo microphones that cancel background audio automatically. So you get really clean audio and video with just one laptop.

Now in terms of software for Macintosh I use ScreenFlow which allows me to record my screen and my webcam and microphones in one shot, so it’s amazing. Great to do computer presentations. That’s all you need basically to get started. And then to do the actual presentation I use Keynote which is like Powerpoint for
Macintosh. And that’s it.

I create a presentation and then I turn on the ScreenFlow and start talking and going over the presentation. When I’m done I just press stop and then I review the video in ScreenFlow and edit any of the mistakes that there may be. I also try to play with the audio levels a little bit just to make sure that people can hear properly. You can do all of that in ScreenFlow. So those are the tools that I personally use.

Now if you’re using a Windows computer or a PC then the equivalent software would be a PowerPoint for presentations and to record your screen and webcam and audio you would use Camtasia. Or if you don’t want to spend money you could get a free alternative which is called CamStudio. So that’s pretty much all you need to get started.

Tim Cooper: And I must admit that’s one thing that I did notice with your course. It gives you a lot of confidence when you say, “Look I don’t have to go out there and break the budget I can just use this equipment”, and as you’re saying yeah sure the video isn’t studio quality but it is fine enough for the job at hand. The audio is great and I think audio is probably one of the more important things. If people can hear you properly they’re going to forgive poor video.

Miguel Hernandez: Exactly right.

Tim Cooper: So we’re coming back to that time consuming task of creating a course again. So what tips can you give to stay focused and on task and just make sure that you actually get the course finished and to market?

Miguel Hernandez: I think what people really need to do is prepare a schedule. My entire life is organized around Google Docs and I use Google Calendar. But you could use any other kind of calendar system. I basically set myself reminders, so I try to put aside as much time as I can while I’m doing the course. Maybe three or four times a week I set aside a couple of hours or three hours, or however many hours I have available.

Then I put it down on the calendar and I have the calendar send me a reminder both by e-mail and by SMS to my phone. Just in case I forget. But I’m always in front of the computer so it’s hard for me to forget because I’m looking all the time on the calendar.

But again, because you see that on the calendar laid out the same way that I do for the entire course and the lectures and the chapters it gives you a sense of “Okay, how big is this task” and I think it really helps to understand visually how much work and how long it’s going to take in advance. Otherwise it may seem like a daunting task. “How long is it going to take?” “Is it going to be months?” and “How many lectures?” But if you already have done all of this preparation in advance both laying out all the lectures and also a schedule, a map of when you’re going to be recording that’s going to help you a lot, definitely.

Tim Cooper: Fantastic. And what advice would you give to somebody who is holding off publishing until their course was – ‘perfect’?

Miguel Hernandez: That is actually a really good point because it happens to me and everybody. We don’t want to publish stuff out there that we think could be better. I even have my own brother I’ve been trying to get to do courses for almost two years now and he’s a perfectionist.

The problem with being too much of a perfectionist is that perfection is unattainable. Which means you’re setting yourself to never publish the course because it’s never going to be perfect. So you have to be able to live with publishing something that you know is not perfect. But you know you did your best because you’re not going to spend your entire life trying to finish this course. That’s why you go setting yourself some deadlines.

So you’re going to do your best, it’s not going to be one hundred percent perfect but let’s say it’s eighty, ninety percent of what you wanted. Then it’s okay. Just let it go. Just put it out there and the beauty of online courses is that, okay if something is not perfect or if people notice, you’re going to get feedback. If there’s mistakes or if there is something you need to fix you always can keep improving. It’s not like once you upload it there’s nothing else you can do, you cannot change it, no you can go back and fix it as many times as you want to. So trying to do something that is perfect really doesn’t make sense. It’s just going to make yourself never do it.

Tim Cooper: So the story is get to market and then perfect it, or improve it along the way based on your students’ feedback. You can add and change things and everything else along the way. But at least it’s out there making some money for you.

Miguel Hernandez: Exactly, the sooner you release it the sooner you find out if there is a market for it and if people are willing to pay money for it. And you’ll get feedback earlier to make it better.

So it really is just get on with it and polish it.

Tim Cooper: Awesome. And now there are many options when it comes to publishing your courses online. What are your recommendations based on your personal experience?

Miguel Hernandez: Well my personal experience. It’s mainly with and it’s been great. Now it’s important to have realistic expectations. In my case I became an instructor on Udemy in the early days of Udemy so there was less competition and there were less instructors.

Udemy spends a lot of marketing dollars in promoting their courses. Now if there are less courses to promote, more of those marketing dollars go to each course. So in a sense I was very lucky because when I published my first courses there was less competition which meant they spent more money in promoting my courses. So very early on I started getting a lot of students.

But what has happened is that Udemy has grown in the number of students and instructors. So now in a sense it’s harder, but they also have a lot more money because they’ve grown almost exponentially. So it could be, what I’m saying is hard for me to prove, but I know it’s harder. I know there’s a lot of new courses that are less than two or three months old and are doing extremely well. Which means that there’s always room for really good courses out there.

In terms of other platforms, I’ve been contacted by many of them. I have a list of maybe fifty different platforms. Because once people found out that Udemy’s model was working very well a lot of clones have appeared, in all countries. I’ve been contacted from China, and from Russia, from everywhere, South America. And I publish my courses to test on other platforms.

I think it’s a good strategy because you never know which platform may work the best or not. But the reality is that I think Udemy’s quite far ahead in the game and also the fact that I started earlier means that my sales are so much higher on Udemy than anywhere else.

I would recommend you to try at least three or four different platforms because who knows? And that really doesn’t hurt just to test other places just so you don’t rely on one specific platform.

That’s why I also recommend always to publish your courses on your own through your own website. This requires more work but it’s also nice to have a backup in case Udemy gets acquired. You never know what may happen because things change quickly on the Internet. So put your eggs on several baskets and that way you always will have some alternate source of income in case one of them doesn’t work.

Tim Cooper: That’s great advice too and as we know when you’re going on to other people’s platforms they make the rules and they can change the rules at any time.

Miguel Hernandez: That’s true.

Tim Cooper: And that can either work for you or against you and self-hosting, I recently moved my course over onto my own site as well and set up an affiliate program. All it takes is basically two or three WordPress plugins and you’re away. It’s very easy to set it up yourself.

Miguel Hernandez: It’s so much easier than even three years ago because there are so many new plugins that are free or very affordable and you can set up your own Udemy in a matter of hours.

Tim Cooper: Yep that’s it. It is getting easier to self-publish everything from books to courses. The market is ours to take.

Miguel Hernandez: Exactly.

Tim Cooper: So what do you think is the main reason why a course would fail to sell?

Miguel Hernandez: It could be a combination of many reasons, like death by a thousand cuts. Or it could be that your course really sucks and then there you go that’s your answer, that’s the main reason.

But you have to look at all the variables because all of them are going to have an effect. I don’t think there’s just one thing. I mean the main thing could be that there is no market for it, nobody really cares about it. It could be produced wonderfully, you could be the best instructor and very smart and engaging, but really people don’t care about it.

For example, maybe you’re a cabinet maker, but you have a very specific type of cabinets that you like to make. And you say I’m going to do a course on the special cabinets made out of oak or something, and then nobody cares about that. You have the best course, you spent three months doing it and nobody buys it.

So what’s the reason? The reason is probably because you didn’t do a little bit of research. There’s many ways of doing research to find out if people are going to like something. You can look at Google Trends for specific keywords to see if people are actually doing searches online for that.

Remember that a lot of the traffic and sales are going to come through organic searches, looking for how to do this, how to do that. So you appear on the top results you may get more sales. But if the specific search that would land them on your course is not existing, in other words people are not searching for that, then that means there’s not really a market for it. So don’t expect many sales if nobody really is looking for that course topic.

So that would be the first thing to do, make sure that people are actually looking for that type of course. There are many ways that could be an entire course by itself on trying to validate the market.

I think the simplest way is what I did with my first course, which is before you actually go ahead and spend two months of your time doing a good course, is create a sales page just introducing the course. But you haven’t done the course, you’re just introducing it and saying what you’re going to cover, how awesome it is. Create a little intro video where you’re basically selling the course.

Then you can either do one of two things. You can either start charging right away for the course at a discount because you haven’t produced it yet. Or you can just have a sign up button saying if you’re interested in taking this course at a discount just give me your e-mail and once it’s finished I’ll let you know.

So what you’re doing at this point is you’re just trying to validate if people actually care about it and I did that on my blog. I was lucky because I had already some traffic to my blog. I had about a thousand unique hits a day on my blog and that was enough for me to validate my animation course using exactly the same procedure which was I created a sales page, put a PayPal button and I said this is a discounted price for whoever signs up for the course early.

The first month after I did that I got twenty three sales and that was enough for me to validate that people are willing to buy a course on this. And then my strategy was if there was not enough people, or attraction, or interest I would just return their money. And refunding money on PayPal is super easy, basically it’s just one click.
So there was really little risk on my part by doing so.

Now if you don’t have traffic then you’re going to have to find a way of getting it and the simplest way is paying for it. It would take an entire new course on teaching you how to do ads, and making sure they’re well done so you can drive traffic to a landing page.

But that’s the alternative. Create a landing page for your course and drive paid traffic to it through Google, Facebook or Twitter ads or whatever. Then see how it converts. If it converts well it’s a good idea, if it doesn’t convert well maybe you have to tweak it or change your idea. So there you go, there are some tips there.

Tim Cooper: Gold, absolute gold. Okay so moving on from that now you’ve actually got your course created, it’s up online. In your experience what are the best methods to promote and sell your course once it’s up and running?

Miguel Hernandez: Okay, there are a bunch of things you can do. First of all, if you have an email list use that. Maybe start with your friends.

Ideally if you have a blog you’ve already been collecting some e-mails from people. You should have an email newsletter system like Mailchimp or AWeber or something like that where you’re collecting email addresses so you can do an e-mail blast announcing the course. That would be one way.

The other way is start social media accounts everywhere. So basically I would go to YouTube and create videos talking about the course. I’ll talk about it in my blog, I’ll talk about it on Twitter and everything. You’re basically trying to create a net so Google indexes you and then people can find you.

Some people give out their course for free. This is actually a pretty good strategy. I haven’t done it but I know it’s worked well for some people. They create a free version of the course but it is a very simplified version, an introductory course to the real course, and they give that for free.

Now because the barrier of entry is so low it’s easy to get quite a lot of people on a free course especially if it’s well presented, the sales page makes sense and people care about the topic. This is great because you’re going to get all these students. So you’re not making any money, but you have all these people, you have this captive audience and now they have an opportunity to see how you teach, to be engaged with your content, to get to know you and basically what’s most important, you start building trust.

Because at the beginning that’s a main issue. You’re an instructor nobody knows, it’s like, who is this guy? But if you give them a chance to get to know you for free they may do it because there’s very little downside, “Let’s see what this guy has to talk about”. Once you have several people, ideally a couple of hundred of free students, what you need to do in that same free course is to have an upsell.

Somewhere in the course, maybe at the end say, “Oh, by the way if you want to take another course related or the full version of this course go here and you can buy it at a discount”. Obviously try to offer a discount so there’s an incentive for them to take action right away. That’s another whole strategy of how to get people motivated to buy. So make sure that they feel that they’re saving money, that it is restricted in time. Ensure the coupons or whatever you promote expire, so they have to take action within a certain amount of time.

So that is I think a good strategy to get started promoting your course. Then there are many more things you can do and you should try them all because at the end of the day it’s very hard to predict what’s really going to work for you.

It could be like maybe somebody that is very influential really likes your topic and then you tweet to this person and that person is like “Oh yeah I really like it I really like it”, and then somehow you develop a relationship with these people who are very influential. Then eventually they decide to review your course or tweet about your course. Suddenly what you’re doing is you’re leveraging that network. So maybe you had one hundred followers, well maybe this person has half a million followers and you only need one tweet from this person to suddenly drive you hundreds of sales.

And I know that personally because that’s how I started my business. On my third video Ashton Kutcher tweeted that video. Now I was mega lucky because I actually never reached out to him. He just happened to know about this company that I did a video for and he really liked the video, genuinely I mean he tweeted it and I could see, wow, suddenly from almost being an unknown in the industry my business was super busy. So that strategy is amazing. Definitely.

Tim Cooper: For sure. Okay we’re coming to the end of the session so I just want to see is there anything that we haven’t touched on that you’d really like to add before we wrap up?

Miguel Hernandez: I think we’ve covered the basics of creating an online course, publishing it, selling it, promoting it.

But it is a very fascinating topic, obviously we could keep talking for hours about it. But I think your audience may get a good introductory idea of what it takes to create an online course.

Tim Cooper: You’ve given us some real gold and some very good pointers and direction. So where can people learn more about you and your courses?

Miguel Hernandez: Well it’s very simple if you go to that’s where I have some of my courses and you’ll find out about me and my animation studio.
That’s kind of like the main reference point for sure.

Tim Cooper: Fantastic. Okay Miguel I’d like the thank you very much for talking with me today. You’ve shared so much valuable information. I really truly appreciate you giving this information so freely. I think if people get out there and action your advice they’ll be online with some successful courses in no time.

Miguel Hernandez: All right. Well it was my pleasure Tim

Tim Cooper: Thank you.

Miguel Hernandez: Thank you.

Tim Cooper: Okay. So there you have it. Thank you so much for listening and again that was Miguel from I’d just like to briefly review some of the key points that Miguel shared with us.

First and foremost topic selection and making sure that there’s a market for your course. This is an important consideration if you really want your course to be successful. Now we’re not saying that you can’t create any course on any topic that you want. If you’re quite happy to make an extra one hundred or two hundred dollars a month by sharing something that you’re very passionate about well that’s your choice, and by all means go for it. But you want to make a decent residual income then you want to make sure that a market exists prior to creating the course.

Miguel also shared a lot of very useful tips on how to plan out your course content and the simple and cost effective way you can record your material using a PC with its built in camera and microphone. You don’t need a big recording studio to get your course up online.

Also just as importantly, your product doesn’t have to be perfect from the outset. Just get it done and get it out there. Listen to the feedback from your students and make improvements along the way. It’s very easy to correct things and swap units in and out as time goes by.

Now Miguel and I actually chatted for a bit after the interview and he just happened to mention that he doesn’t take a lot of time these days to promote his courses, because his primary focus is his animation studio. Yet he still enjoys a six to eight thousand U S dollar per month residual income from course sales. Is that the sort of income you’d be interested in earning while concentrating on other things?

It just goes to show the potential of putting the time and effort in once, publishing it online and spending some time promoting and maintaining your course. You really can generate a substantial income without being tied to your computer.

Now Miguel was also kind enough to provide us with some half price coupons for all of his courses and you’ll find links to all of the discounted courses on my site at The link will also be included at the bottom of the transcript of this call.

So once again thank you for listening to Online Courses That Sell Expert Interview Series. I trust you found this information useful and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me on

Enjoyed it? Here you have 7 more interviews with Miguel Hernandez:
The origins of Grumo Media: A story of trial and error – Miguel Hernandez
Running an Animation Studio by Grumo Media – Interview by Animation Orbit
Running Grumo Media and Insights on the Demo Video Market
How Grumo Overcame His Fear of English and Built a Successful Company
How To Create Videos That Get You Customers – Mixergy Interview
Explainer Videos Explained: Interview by The Local Method
Grumo Advice to First Time Entrepreneurs – Interview by Siosism

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