Well, as I write this it’s New Year’s Eve. We’re all thinking about what we want to accomplish in the new year. The truth is though, most of us won’t accomplish the things we want to accomplish. And it’s not because they’re not achievable. In fact most of us grossly underestimate what we can get done in a year.
I think the real issue isn’t our ability, or even our motivation. I think what makes us quit or lose interest most of the time is just not really knowing how to approach a goal properly. We just kinda say “I want to do x”. Then we just randomly start doing it. Then later we stop, for whatever reason. Life gets in the way, or things don’t go perfect every day, or whatever. We just end up kinda gradually giving up on it.
I was thinking about what I want to accomplish next year, and interestingly enough one of the biggest things I want to accomplish is something I already accomplished a couple of years ago. Release a new on-line home study course.
I released my first one a couple of years ago. It was a 6 month home vocal training program. When I decided to do this I had no idea how to accomplish it. I had vocal training, but that’s about it. I didn’t know how to package what I knew, put it on the internet and make it available for sale. What I did know though, is what I wanted the course to look like. How I wanted it to work, and how long I wanted it to be. So that’s where I started.
Taking A Realistic Look At My Goal:
I decided to take a realistic look at what I wanted to do and decide if I could really do it. Here’s what I knew:
I knew I wanted the course to be all videos. Videos are much more engaging, interesting and effective than reading text.
I knew I wanted the course to be about 6 months long. My experience as a vocal coach taught me that you start to get the most lasting, permanent results at around 6 months of continuous vocal training.
I knew I wanted the course to be delivered on-line, one video at a time rather than mailed out all at once. I thought it would be easier to stick to and less overwhelming for my students than getting this huge chunk of information all at once. I had the knowledge, I had a video camera and I knew how to find everything else out. So I decide this was realistic and something I could definitely do.
Making A Plan And Getting Started:
So now I have to start shooting video lessons. But before I could start doing that I needed to create some kind of logical progression for the course. So I spent some time working out how I’d progress the course from beginner exercises to more advanced exercises, which exercises I’d cover in the videos.
I also had to decide when I’d do most of my shooting. I needed to use natural light, so shooting videos after work was out. And honestly I didn’t think I’d do it after working all day. So I decided I’d do most of my video shooting on Saturdays when I was off work. Once I had had a plan, or a basic process in place for how I’d approach actually getting the content done I got started shooting videos.
I’d simply do one or two a week, shooting, re-shooting and editing them all in one day. That actually took 1-2 hours per video. So I wan’t pushing myself or working from sun up till sundown. Sometimes I’d do one that day and edit it down to a lesson I was happy with. Then I’d enjoy the rest of my Saturday. Sometimes I’d shoot one and then edit it later.
Making it known:
After I’d gotten started and had a few videos under my belt I began to make it known that I was working on a home study vocal training course. I was also beginning to hint at a time frame, although I wasn’t putting a date out there yet. I knew that would keep me both accountable and motivated.
Months went on and I kept doing the videos, accomplishing a little every week. Sometimes I made mistakes and had to re-shoot videos for whatever reason. But what kept me going was not looking at the whole picture or the whole goal. Rather, just taking it lesson by lesson, video by video, and working on it consistently in the time I had already decided I’d set aside to do it.
Packaging the course:
During my week nights after work when I wasn’t shooting videos I was looking into how to package and deliver my course. I had already done some research on membership programs and decided that would be the best way to deliver my program. With a membership site I could slowly drip-feed my lessons to my members every few days and every new member would start at the beginning.
Further research taught me that this model was also a good way to protect my videos from being accessed by people who hadn’t paid for the course. The most exciting thing about it for me though, was the fact that I didn’t need to have the entire course finished to actually release it to the public!
I could have a few months of content ready, open the course to the public and then simply continue adding future lessons to the course until I’m done. All I needed to do was stay ahead of my students. With this in mind I knew I could have my course on-line sooner than I thought, since I already had a few months worth of content shot and edited. So I started thinking about a release date.
Putting it on-line:
So, having decided that a membership site is the way I wanted to go, I had to set about finding out how to put one in place. Mind you I had never done it before and had no experience. So this involved a lot of reading, comparing and even trying a couple of them before finding the one that was the right fit for both my budget and my level of experience. It had to be something simple enough for me to maintain, change, add to, etc.
I finally decided on a membership software that seemed right for me. It was designed to be simple, straight-forward without a lot of complicated bells and whistles, which was what I needed. It was also designed to be easy to install for people without experience with such things.
So I purchased and downloaded the software and installed it. But I found it was still a little bit above my skill-set. I was spending too much time trying to get it set up, and by now I had given a release date to my followers. The creator and owner of the software also offered a “done-for-you” service where he would install it, set it up and test the whole thing for you. So I decided to take the plunge and hire him. I was nervous about it because it was about $250 and I had simply never out-sourced anything before.
It turned out to be the best money I’d ever spent though. With him on the job I was able to go back to concentrating on shooting and editing videos. My plan was to have at least 3 months of lessons ready and in place before opening the doors. To do that I needed to decide how many lessons my students would get each month. That meant also deciding how often they’d get a lesson.
I decided to set the lessons to drip-feed to my students every 10 days. Since I knew I wanted a 6 month course, deciding how often a new lesson is released gave me a concrete number of videos I needed to complete: 18!
Having this new information I needed to make some adjustments to my lesson plan that I wouldn’t have been able to make at the beginning. That’s an important thing to keep in mind. You can almost never know everything at the beginning, and trying to wait until you do will often keep you from ever getting started at all. I had to actually get started to know how many videos I’d need to ultimately shoot. And I had to know that in order to make sure the lessons were progressing in a logical way.
Opening The Doors:
So by now months have passed, my membership software is installed and I have 3 months of lessons loaded. But I’ve also had to create certain pages on my website to make the membership site work. I needed a sales page where my course could be purchased. I also needed to create all the different pages that needed to be in place to take my new student from the purchase to the membership area where they’d access their lessons.
This included a log-in page, the page they’re taken to after they log in, etc. Automated systems had to be put in place that would send my new student information their log-in credentials too, as well as e-mails every 10 days reminding them that a new lesson is available.
I already had a business pay pal account I could use to accept credit cards, so I was able to connect that to my membership software. This was all handled for me during the set-up process. Once all these processes were in place and tested, all that was left to do was open the doors!
I launched the course on November 16th, by sending out e-mails to my entire mailing list, posting about it in my fan page and twitter account, and finally posting a Youtube video. I think I sold about 10 memberships that first day at $147 each. When I opened I only had a monthly payment option available, so each of them were paying about $25 a month.
Meanwhile I went back to shooting videos for the course! Remember the students are joining at the beginning of the course and I’ve already pre-loaded about 3 months of lessons. So I’m still shooting, editing and adding lessons for the future months ahead of them. Finally, months later I finish and edit the last of the lessons!
The entire course still runs today pretty-much on auto-pilot. I’m still learning of course, and still making adjustments as I learn. Now it’s mostly learning how to sell the course better, how to generate more leads and sell more memberships.
What I’ve Learned:
The point sharing this whole story with you is to give you some revelations I’ve learned by going through it, that will possibly help you achieve a major goal next year.
1. For me, having one goal that I really felt I could achieve was better than making a long list of goals. I’ve made lists in the past and it just seemed like too much to accomplish after awhile. Soon you end up not getting started on any of them.
2. Achieving a goal takes work. Sitting down and getting real about what it would take me to achieve my goal and when I’d have time to do it helped me a lot.
3. Focus on the process, not the whole goal. If I’d been focused on everything it took to put this course out there I may have never started. Instead I just started focusing first on one thing. Shooting videos. I had a basic lesson plan and knew from teaching voice for years how the videos needed to progress. And I knew when I’d be shooting videos. That was all I needed to get started, and getting started is the most important thing.
4. You don’t have to know everything or have everything perfect to get started. This was the biggest lesson for me. I never would have considered putting something out there before it was complete before, but once I learned do that with a membership site I had all the confidence I needed. I also had all the motivation I needed to keep going, because I had to stay ahead of my students.
5.Putting it out there and setting a date makes it real. You have to give yourself a time frame to accomplish your goal. I knew that making my release date public gave me a deadline that forced me to stay on it and get it done. Especially since I’d told everyone.
6. Don’t expect perfection of yourself. I think many of us start goals, then get side-tracked for whatever reason and feel like we may as well give up. I think expecting perfection of ourselves puts too much pressure on us and makes us feel like we’ve failed when we haven’t. There were days when I couldn’t shoot because it was too cloudy or something, but there were also days when I just didn’t feel like it so I didn’t. There were weekends my boys would be over, so I didn’t shoot on those days.
7. Break goals down into small steps. One article I read talked about focusing on the process instead of the goal, as I said in step 3. My goal was to create a 6 month video course. My process was to shoot one or two videos a week until I got it done. I didn’t try to shoot and edit 18 videos in a day, a week or even a month. If I had tried to do them all back to back I would have certainly given up.
Two great articles on achieving goals, both with a different but important perspective:
An Almost Foolproof Way To Achieve Every Goal You Set (this one is very profound. If you only read one, make it this one)
And here’s a link to my vocal training course, Vocal Ministry Breakthrough!