The launch story behind this online course platform

Joining me is an entrepreneur who started teaching creative software in person. Then he had a disaster of a teaching experience. It rocked his world but led to a breakthrough.

We’ll find out what happened. Daniel Scott is the founder of InstructorHQ, a teaching platform for software like Adobe.

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Daniel Scott

Daniel Scott

InstructorHQ

Daniel Scott is the founder of InstructorHQ, a teaching platform for creative software like Adobe.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I do it for an audience of entrepreneurs. Joining me is an entrepreneur who started teaching creative software, doing it in person. Then he had . . . I’m going to call it a disaster, from the point of view of teaching in person. He’s smiling. Something that basically rocked his world of teaching in person. We’ll find out what happened.

And after that, he had a breakthrough that made him say, “You know? I’ve got this publishing platform that I created, I think I could sell it to other people.” We’re going to find out how he started teaching, how he moved to teaching online and why he is selling software to do it in a world that, frankly, has got a lot of software for publishing courses online.

So his name is Daniel Scott. You can see the courses that he teaches about creative software, like Adobe. What is this? I’ve got it . . . I got you on your home page, of your site with the T-shirt.

Daniel: “Bring your own Laptop” is the name.

Andrew: “Bring your own Laptop” is the name. But the home page of it has . . . You and a T-shirt that says, “I love Adobe. Dan loves Adobe.”

Daniel: Dan loves Adobe. I do. They’ve brought me fortune and fame in the Adobe world.

Andrew: How great would you feel if one day you saw somebody wearing a T-shirt that says, “I love instructorHQ,” your software for publishing courses?

Daniel: Is it sad that I’ve already kind of made some and tried to give them to people?

Andrew: Did you really?

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh, that’s great.

Daniel: I got a T-shirt press just off screen here. I love making a good T-shirt. That’s one of my side hobbies.

Andrew: Oh, so you made that T-shirt yourself? The one that says, “I love Adobe”?

Daniel: I did, that was one of my first ever business failures was a T-shirt business. I didn’t mention that because it didn’t go . . . It did, yeah, but I’ve still got all the gear. So I make loads of T-shirts.

Andrew: What do you mean? What was this idea? How did it . . . ?

Daniel: I was making T-shirts back when . . . I think every graphic designer leaves art school and thinks they can make their fortune making cool T-shirts and then . . .

Andrew: Where did you try to sell them when you left art school?

Daniel: At festivals.

Andrew: You just go to festivals with T-shirts for the festival, standing there hawking the T-shirts yourself?

Daniel: That’s exactly what we did.

Andrew: And did people . . . ? Who’s “we”?

Daniel: Me and my co-founder of that business, is called [H for Home 00:02:16], Sarah Parkinson, yep, used to travel around, yeah.

Andrew: Okay. And you were just standing around, doing it? Did you learn anything about how to sell by making up and trying to sell?

Daniel: No, what we learn, the big takeaway was, we got to one night and we’re like, “Man, we are spending every single hour of every single day that we’re not at our full-time jobs, what do you want from this?” And she said, “I want at least £10,000,” we were living in the UK. I was like, “Yeah, £10,000 extra pounds a year would be a good little boost.”

And I quickly got my calculator. I mean, “Okay. This is how many T-shirts we’re selling,” some hand and then hand. We were selling like maybe 40 a week and we need to sound like 2,000. And we both looked at each other and just ordered another drink and didn’t really say much. We just wasted . . . We should have done this a year or two ago, that’s what we should’ve done. That’s what I’ve learned.

Andrew: To do the math . . .

Daniel: Do basic numbers first.

Andrew: Excuse me. instructorHQ is your software for publishing courses, what’s different about it is, yes, I can use it to publish courses on your platform that would then show up on my site. But what I like about it is, I can also publish on other platforms with it too. So if I want to publish my course on Udemy, I could put it on instructorHQ and then you’ll help me syndicate to Udemy. Did you do this kind of math with instructorHQ?

Daniel: Totally. Yeah.

Andrew: You did.

Daniel: Yeah, like lots more we . . . It was mainly . . . The main math was around subscription versus whether we could pay per a percentage, you know like, could we take a cut of the instructors revenue or do we just pay a flat subscription fee regardless of how much you’re earning? And that was the easy math at the beginning to work out, because in my head that was going to be a point of difference. Like, “Hey, let’s just do . . . Everyone else is doing subscription, we’ll do a cut, and a cut becomes so high and it looks so bad, we get paid the same but the cut looks so bad that as soon as somebody matures until like earning lots of money, they’ll go somewhere else because we’ve been taking too weak a cut.”

Andrew: That makes sense. And so what do you guys charge now?

Daniel: $14.95. We’re $14.95 a month.

Andrew: $14.95 a month?

Daniel: That’s it. We’re a lot lower than anyone else. We’ve got a slightly different model as in we’ve got a big kind of education part of that. So, lots of people don’t end up using a lot of the stuff that cost us money. So they’re in that kind of first pool of getting you ready, helping you get it done and then not actually costing us a lot of money. So we kind of . . . Those people kind of help us to meet the costs of the people that are actually true in a service base.

Andrew: Because it’s part of the offering you teach them how to create their first course, how to publish, how to get started, and so they’re paying you for the software but at first the big value for them is learning and figuring out how to.

Daniel: Yeah, exactly. Like 80% of people are in that phase of like working out how to do it, you know, and we’re handholding them through that. It’s kind of a big thing. We like to do.

Andrew: This is kind of a new baby business for you. The big business is still you teaching people how to use software at bringyourownlaptop.com. What’s the revenue from the software?

Daniel: So on bringyourlaptop.com that is about $15,000 a month, but Udemy is about $40,000 and Skillshare is about $40,000 as well.

Andrew: Oh, got it. You’re saying for Bring Your Own Laptop, Udemy is sending you $40,000 every month?

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: Skillshare $40,000 every month?

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: And then $15,000 comes from people coming to your own website?

Daniel: That’s it.

Andrew: Oh, wow. That’s fantastic.

Daniel: Plus, I’m on probably another 15 sites that do the same sort of thing as Udemy and Skillshare, and they all . . . I mean, plus YouTube will contribute into kind of pushing it a good chunk over $100,000 a month.

Andrew: Okay. That’s fantastic. So Skillshare, the way they work is, they give you a percentage of the money that they get in based on hours of viewership that you get, right?

Daniel: That’s it.

Andrew: That’s it. And so, how are you even getting people to go watch you on Skillshare?

Daniel: I don’t. I let Skillshare do their thing. I let Udemy do their thing. All my full time like when I’m pushing my stuff, it’s always to my own site. The audience is just growing so much, and so as is Udemy. And if your courses aren’t that bad, then just hold on, they’re growing so fast . . .

Andrew: Let them do it.

Daniel: I don’t do anything. Yeah.

Andrew: Wow. And your software instructorHQ, it’s new. How much revenue are you bringing with that?

Daniel: So it’s about 500 subscribers, so $5,000.

Andrew: Per month?

Daniel: That’s it.

Andrew: Nice start.

Daniel: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: You’re a guy who always had businesses, from what I understand. In fact, did you sell fruit as a kid?

Daniel: Yeah, fruit, anyway, does everybody on fruit sell fruit? I did. I get fruit from the neighbors and sold it on the side, and I’m pretty sure, I felt like a business man. But I’m pretty sure it was just . . . Friends and family driving past, but hey, it worked. I loved it.

Andrew: Selling you did . . . You just get . . . You’d pick fruit from your neighbors’ trees and then put it in a . . .

Daniel: In bags and then stick a big price tag on it and kind of dance around at the side of the street.

Andrew: Wow, that’s impressive. All right. And so, the big way that you got started in business was teaching. How do you get started teaching in person?

Daniel: So kind of at university I ended up doing it, it’s just a kind of a side . . . One of my lecturers, “You know more than us, go off. Can you run the night classes?” So I did while at still university. Then started doing it kind of half and half between being a graphic designer and teaching for other people. And then eventually moved . . . That was kind of us still doing it in the UK, and then moved to New Zealand.

Andrew: Wait, before we go to New Zealand. You were doing it for your teacher. They said, “Daniel, you’re better than us.”

Daniel: Yeah, it was awkward.

Andrew: Really? “You just teach us stuff.” Okay. And then how did you go to the next step. Who else were you teaching after that?

Daniel: So then I moved to the UK to kind of see a bit of the world, and did stuff for other kind of professional training companies. So, certified training companies. And I went and did kind of half part-time for them. The other half I was part-timing as a kind of a typical graphic designer.

Andrew: And that’s largely for big companies, right? That want to train their people to use software.

Daniel: That’s it.

Andrew: Got it. And so you’re doing all that. At what point did you say, “I’m going to get customers on my own. I’ll teach [inaudible 00:08:09].”

Daniel: It was the moving back to New Zealand was like a big kind of milestones, like, “All right . . . ” The last guy I was working for in the UK, he was brilliant. He allowed me to kind of see the numbers and he’s really kind of like, you know, he showed me how the business worked and what you should do and shouldn’t do, and I was like, “Hey, I’m going.” And he’s like, “Do the same thing man, and don’t do these things but definitely double down on these things.” So I kind of went off ready to go.

So the worst was he was kind of in a corporate model where they paid 30 days later and he was always broke, like he was always behind trying chase . . . he had full-time employees trying to chase it, and then he was like taking debt on . . . He was giving it off to the bank and they’d given him 80% just so that he would have some cash flow to keep running.

Andrew: And he said to you, “Charge ahead of time, before you teach make sure that you close the payment.”

Daniel: It wasn’t . . . It’s not traditional in that industry. It’s like you pay 30 days afterwards, which means 60 or 90, but I just like, “No,” people like, “Well, my class is tomorrow,” like you got to pay tonight. And it’s weird, like I don’t know. There was a few people that was like, “Hey, that’s not how it works,” but I don’t know. It hasn’t been a problem. But it was one of those things where if it’d gone the other way, it probably would have been the same issues, cash flow.

Andrew: I have to say, we have a similar situation with advertising here. In the podcasting world, most businesses pay 30 days later to 60 days later. There’s usually an intermediary who then collects the payment and then pays it to the podcaster 30 days later. Some podcasters go for half a year before they actually see the money from the . . . And Sachit Gupta, who sells our ads said, “Andrew, I’m going to do it differently here. I’m going to collect payments first and then run the ads. Sometimes even a year in advance, because if they want the year . . . ”

And most of our advertisers said, “That is a really weird way to charge, you have to charge us after but . . . ” They said, “All right, Andrew, if this is what it takes for your business to do well, we’ll help you out and we’ll do it this way as a favor to you. We just want you to know, it’s a weirdo way to do things.” But God bless him for doing it because it does save me the hassle of having to go and chase them down and I don’t have the infrastructure to go do that, and he doesn’t want to build the infrastructure at his company.

Daniel: How long you been doing that now?

Andrew: I think he took over ads about five, four years ago, somewhere there. And before that I was charging afterwards.

Daniel: Yeah, I can’t imagine doing it any other way unless you’ve got . . . I don’t know, like, yeah, I wouldn’t do it.

Andrew: It’s a real headache, especially because you can’t take credit cards from businesses for tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars, which means you have to then send them a bill that they have to deal with bank account information to . . .

Daniel: Yeah, you’re putting the wrong thing on the invoice and . . .

Andrew: Yeah.

Daniel: The other way round, it’s all on them and it’s you might lose a little bit, but I bet you’d probably make it up in terms of the staff you’d have to hire to chase it all the time.

Andrew: How did you get, and it creates an awkward feeling with a business, you know, you’re trying to sell them for next year but they still owe you the last year and do you talk about what they owe? It’s just a real . . .

Daniel: That is a dance you have to do, yeah.

Andrew: And I know that there a lot of podcasters who deal with that nightmare. So how did you get customers?

Daniel: I was pretty . . . It was kind of it was pretty good timing. I was interested in SEO and it was the days where you could kind of gray hat your way into pretty much anything, and New Zealand’s a pretty small market. That’s where I’m from. That’s where I started up, and it was just . . . Most places barely had a website. So it was pretty, like that was like, that was so easy, but mild SEO knowledge that just worked.

Andrew: What was your site?

Daniel: It was bringyourownlaptop.co.nz, still runs, it’s all kind of fully manage now, it runs, it pays me a yearly income, does it right, and I don’t have to do anything. It’s a lovely little thing that got me started.

Andrew: But then, back then it was nothing but a way to sell your personal classes.

Daniel: That’s right, yeah.

Andrew: That’s what it was. By the way, this is a good time for me to talk about my first sponsor. And my only sponsor for this interview it’s a company called HostGator. If you’re out there and you’re listening and you need a website for anything, go to hostgator.com/mixergy. I was telling Daniel that’s my sponsor for this interview, and he said, “Actually a different company.” I’ll talk about it. Actually, I’ll talk about right now. What’s the company that you use?

Daniel: Bluehost.

Andrew: Bluehost, and . . .

Daniel: And I was like, “Stop, you can’t talk about that. Those guys are not going to be cool.”

Andrew: And I said, “Guess what? They’re both the same company.” I’ve had people email me and there’s so aggressive about their favorite hosting company. I’ve had people email me and say, “No, Bluehost is way, way better. You have to understand this is why.”

Daniel: It is, Andrew, it is.

Andrew: And then what I do is I send them a link that shows the Bluehost and HostGator are hosted by the same company. It’s essentially the same product. Here’s the difference. The company behind them is really clever about creating a sense of competition. And so, literally, I had breakfast with the guy from HostGator who told me how he has to crush the people from Bluehost, like in like a head-to-head. “They are doing this thing, and I won’t talk about the details, we have to do better. Andrew, I’ve got to finish this breakfast because I’ve got to go back in there.” I go, “Go ahead. Go win, go beat them.”

But here’s the thing, here’s the big takeaway, whether you use Bluehost, HostGator or someone else, and I’m going to give you everyone who’s listening to me at a deal that will get them to go to HostGator. But regardless, what I have found, Daniel, and you might have to is, when you create a website for anything, it gives what you’re doing a sense of gravitas, a sense of importance, a sense of reality. Right? Imagine if the fruit stand that you had back in New Zealand had its own website, right?

Daniel: The first thing I do, I’m like, “Hello person, check their website,” you know that’s like it’s a check LinkedIn, check their website and if there is nothing, it doesn’t even need to be much, it needs to know that you care enough to put something up and like, yeah, using HostGator you can just use their kind of online service, right, all the kind of interactive stuff, you don’t actually have to go and code it or anything, right?

Andrew: And what I like about HostGator is the pack, one of the packages on the page that I’m giving has an unlimited hosting package. So imagine if you are trying to woo somebody to be a customer. Imagine if you’re trying to woo them to be an employee of yours, and instead of just saying, “Hey, I think you should come and have a call with us,” you create a website that says, “I created this for you, Daniel Scott. You should be partnering up with Mixergy.” It feels a little more important. And in reality, it’s a little more difficult than firing up Google Docs and creating a new doc.
All right. Whether you need it for your new business to give it a sense of important, gravitas, whether you hate your hosting company, whether you just want to create a site to woo somebody over, maybe it’s just the person you love. I did one for my wife before we got married. Go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you will get the lowest price that they have available, you’ll get great hosting from a company that will grow with you, yes, I’m sending you to the cheapest plans that they have available, but understand that you can absolutely grow and get everything from like dedicated server to managed WordPress hosting and so much more.

All you have to do to get all that is go to hostgator.com/mixergy. And I thank them for supporting, and I thank you guys who are using that link for constantly using the link because it’s helping me continue to grow Mixergy. Thanks everyone.

So what is it about New Zealand, by the way? I heard Peter Thiel moved to New Zealand or is in love with New Zealand.

Daniel: I’m born there. So, like I like . . .

Andrew: What do you love about it? So you know better than anyone.

Daniel: I live in Ireland, like it’s the . . . I’m in Ireland for a different reason, but New Zealand is awesome, it’s beautiful, it’s got the full seasons, you can go snowboarding, you can go surfing, but it’s quite, yes, it’s got a lot of . . . Like there’s some things that I hate about it as well, like being a graphic designer in New Zealand, it’s too small, it feels too small. But then you go to London you realize, “I don’t want to be in a tube catching the bus for an hour a day. I want to live on the beach.”

Andrew: What was it like growing up in New Zealand? What did they think about entrepreneurship specifically? They encourage it? Against it?

Daniel: No, I kind of got everything I want, like design is a pretty cool career path. You get to experience like, you know, business from a kind of getting started kind of perspective, but in terms of growing up, now my parents are working class. The entrepreneurial kind of came through when I got into design and I was like, “Oh, yeah, all these kind of things ideas I had there’s an actual industry based around it,” and my side of it was the kind of branding side of it, so I got to see lots of cool stuff that way.

And then it all came through audio audiobooks, like that was my big . . . as soon as I figured out, like I think I got a Tony Robbins CD and then going to the library we’re getting more CDs and then I realized there was audio books eventually and just hum through everything. That’s what I do now, I kind of strip Audible bare for their business kind of audio books. Yeah, that’s where I get my [inaudible 00:16:41].

Andrew: I do too. I remember that was one of the things for me too, there was a section of the Queens Library that had business books and audio books. And I remember I couldn’t fall asleep, I had terrible insomnia for most my life. And I say, “You know what? I could at least listen to something instead of listening to music over and over. I’ll listen to an audio book. And the one that got me was Napoleon Hill. It was maybe “Think and Grow Rich.”

The thing that changed things for me was, he actually said, “I like money and anyone who understands money wants more of it.” Now obviously, I’ve learned that that’s not true, but I thought, “A lot of around me they want money for business, they work hard, they don’t think of artists as being real people, they’re like flakes. That’s the thing about New York, but they don’t talk about wanting money.” Like it’s this weirdo thing that’s going on in San Francisco now, where people are clearly working hard for money, but they pretend that they don’t. And so all I was dealing with was the pretend and this audio book stripped away the pretend and said, “Guess what? Other people want it too. They have a fire for. You can go after it.”

Daniel: Do you think it’s like innate? Because like I’ve always heard, “If somebody asked me how much I’m earning, I wouldn’t even think about the . . . I just say what I’d be earning,” and like and if you did the same thing around you realize, “Man, it’s really taboo to kind of talk about it.” Like I share all my life, if you want to see everything what I’m earning, if you go to instructorhq.com/bishop, it’s got everything, where all the courses, where it’s coming from, different platforms if you want to go for a bit of lurking and see what I’m doing. And then I start to see people like Pat Flynn sharing what he does and you share what you do, and a few other people, and I was like, “Man, this is so interesting,” because like you said, “Money is not . . . ” It’s not because I want to spend . . . I don’t want to stand on top of it and kind of point down to people. It’s such a useful tool. Like it’s [inaudible 00:18:24] . . .

Andrew: I think it’s useful in your space.

Daniel: . . . like how well you’re doing.

Andrew: In some ways I understand why some people don’t. If you have a company full of employees and you’re hoping to get more, and your ethos is, “We need to make more money.” You’re going to create a team of people who all want to make more money and if you’re in San Francisco where everybody is feeling this, you know, “The boss wants to make more money, then I should want to make more money, maybe even more than the boss.” And there is no money for a long time because you’re in startup phase and you have to really run with as little profit as possible, and you have to tell people to take as little as possible. I get it from a company point of view.

The part that I don’t get is, they’re here in San Francisco working really hard at these companies with the idea that eventually their stock will be worth something or where they’ll earn more salary, etc. But there’s such a pretending for it that if a kid celebrates scoring a goal in soccer, it’s like, “Now, now Tommy, you have to understand the score is not what matters. Who had a fun time here today? Scoring doesn’t matter.” Like to that degree we’re all pretending and it’s very . . . I’m going to say insufferable.

Daniel: It’s got to be a balance because nobody wants to be running around, you know, flashing exactly what they earn but there’s got to be some sort of balance of, like you said, you know, you want to support people to do well and like money is probably our easiest indicator of like how well you’re doing at business, like because that’s the goal is to collect it up and people want to share your . . .

Andrew: And how much, I’m going to say this too, how much impact, I hate to say it, but maybe not exactly how much impact but it does give you a lot of opportunity for impact, we’ve got friends who are doing really well off, they don’t talk, they’re really well off. They don’t talk about it much, but whenever my wife sees who’s like helping out these nonprofits that she’s working out with or she’s working with, she sees their names, they’re there, they’re clearly present both financially and otherwise.

All right, let me ask you this, what was the book that got you going? What were some of the books in the early days in New Zealand when you were reaching out to the rest of world to see possibilities?

Daniel: The ones I want to tell you about or the ones that actually I did start with at the Tony Robbins ones like those are the ones . . .

Andrew: Tony Robbins were the ones that got you.

Daniel: They feel really cheese now and they were proven to me at that time, like, “Holy moly, like he . . . ” Like it was a mixture of kind of like personal empowerment and he did some really cool stuff, and you know, with kind of business as well and he’s done more and more on that. But, I like the man, like I don’t agree with everything and he’s a bit . . . I think he’s right for people in that they’re kind of at the right time.

Andrew: I’m glad that you said that because I actually am not super proud of the depth that was in those Napoleon Hill CDs. What I like about it, maybe this is what you’re going to say you liked about Tony Robbins is, it was overt, it was overt desire, it was overt success, it was, “Put this ingredient in, get this cake out,” right? Put this type of hard work in, get this result out. And that simplicity helps you when you’re getting going to understand the world, later on you could add more layers of depth and complication and difficulties. All right, let’s continue then.

So, you met someone. She was from Ireland. You were dating her?

Daniel: We were, yeah?

Andrew: And you were in London. And she said, what?

Daniel: She said, “Let’s go . . . ” Actually I said, “Let’s go to New Zealand first of all.” That’s how we got there. Then we were in New Zealand for about . . . I’d say 18 months, five years later.

Andrew: Eighteen months. I did, by the way see your website from New Zealand days. I like how at the very top of the site it says, “Who we are,” right from the beginning. Was it just you?

Daniel: It was at Bring Your Own Laptop or . . . ? Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s pretty much lean now, like instructorHQ has a few more people, but Bring Your Own Laptop is mainly kind of two full-time employees and all contractors.

Andrew: I mean, even back then when you were training in New Zealand, it’s like, “It was all me.” It was all you, right, but it was all, “We are,” not contact me but contact us. It was this whole sense of, “We are big, you should come to us. We have classes of Photoshop posters . . . ”

Daniel: I totally had imposter syndrome for all of that, like, “Oh yeah, I’ll just put you on to accounting,” and you like, “Hi, it’s Daniel from accounting.” It was all via email but like it was like I was scared . . . Like I was in my early 20s and I think everyone has that sort of imposter syndrome, want to feel bigger than they are but realize it’s not that important later on.

Andrew: And I said there was a de . . . Oh, look at this, you book using Eventbrite, I like the simplicity of this, you know what? I don’t mean to be putting this down in any way, I don’t think saying, “About us,” is that terrible. I just think it’s interesting to see how you communicated back then. I think it’s interesting to see . . .

Daniel: Are you looking at the old site? Have you gone to . . .

Andrew: Old, old site. Wayback Machine.

Daniel: Nice work, yeah.

Andrew: I went to a Wayback Machine to see what you were doing.

Daniel: Eventbrite meant no developer. I’m an okay with web designer but not going to build a ticketing payment system. So basically, it all linked to Eventbrite. And run that does that kind of method for about four years until we wanted more from the database.

Andrew: Yeah, I think this is brilliant. It’s simple, it works, it makes sense. I said that there was a disaster from the point of view of this business model where people were coming in to take your night classes, but I was being silly, what happened?

Daniel: She wanted to go back to Ireland. Is that the disaster we’re talking about?

Andrew: That’s it, yeah, exactly.

Daniel: So we’d head out . . . We got married there, we were there five years, got married, had a kid. It was time for maybe baby number two. And she’d done her time her 18 months/five years, and she’s like, “Let’s come back here,” and I’m like . . . I’ve lived around different places and it definitely wasn’t like it, “Oh, my God.” Like it was a cool adventure, you know, like I was pretty pumped to go do it. And yeah, that’s . . .

Andrew: But you were thinking let’s find a way to get new clients in Ireland. But a friend of yours said, what?

Daniel: So they said, “Start online,” and I was like, “I’ve been resisting that.” Everyone keep telling me that for like the, like Bring Your Own Laptop, one in New Zealand has been running for eight years, now, “Speak with ton pages, go online,” I’m like, “No way, I know this other thing. I know it well, I’m doing pretty good.” And moving to Ireland was like, “All right, I’m going to do my way in Ireland and I’m also going to . . . I’m going to kind of race it, I’m going to do two businesses, one’s online courses and one is doing the exact same thing more like classroom training, and I’m just going to race them and just see after a year or two who wins,” you know. And that was my goal when I got here to Ireland, just do both.

Andrew: How fast was it for the online . . . ?

Daniel: A year and bit, a year and a little bit before I close down the kind of more brick and mortar thing, because online just had so much legs.

Andrew: How’d you get customers online?

Daniel: YouTube is the main one and they let the platforms do their thing. We’ll support them as much as you can, but basically leaving them to do it, making courses, just make a lots of it free on YouTube, point them to bringyourownlaptop.com and let . . . And that’s where I got most of them, is just . . .

Andrew: Were you showing parts of your courses online on YouTube?

Daniel: My current strategy, my always strategy is make a long course, say it’s 50 or 100 videos of how to use Photoshop, grab the keyword rich videos, and whatever is going to do the best on YouTube and stick it up there, put it an intro and an outro to say, “Hey, it’s a little free snippet, check out the full course,” and that is what drives like yeah, that’s what drives Bring Your Own Laptop.

Andrew: What software were you using to create your first courses?

Daniel: In terms of video production, I use Camtasia, I still use it. It’s good.

Andrew: Great. It’s super simple.

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: And so you’re on Camtasia, publishing. Did you have any hesitation about recording on your own? I think people always expect me, especially when they say, “Andrew, we’re flying about to speak at this conference, all we need you to do is give us this 30-second video clip announcing what you’re going to be talking about.” And I hate it. I don’t want to do it. I can’t sit down. If they want to just get on Zoom like this with me and record it, I could talk to them for five hours, but for 30 seconds talking in a camera, it’s a pain.

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: What it like that for you?

Daniel: And we’re actually doing it now. I do it and I just do it like two dozen times until it seems natural. And most of mine is Screencast. So my first course is we’re just talking over videos and that’s a lot more simple use. You can edit out all your bumbles and stuff. You just record the screen and talk over it. For a long time I didn’t do any knee-waving in front of the camera. Now it’s essential, like I feel like it’s a great way to connect with people. But I do it. I set it up in the morning, I’m like, “I’m going to record today.” Got my cameras over there, I’m like, “All right.” And I just know that the first half of the day is going to be terrible. I’m going to be sweaty. It’s like, “There’s nobody here.” I’ve made nearly 30 courses and I still kind of, this doesn’t go well. In the second half of the day you finally get your rhythm and you start doing it all. Like 80% of the work gets done in the last half of the day.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s why I think people also don’t understand when they just want to take five minutes of your time in the middle of the day, no, that throws off the whole rhythm. I need that sweaty painful period to get to the good stuff.

Daniel: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Andrew: Yeah. And I don’t know when I’ll actually have that conversion, if I do it. At what point in the day am I going to feel like I’m on a roll and I’m going to go? Is it just before you call?

Daniel: After lunch, it’s after lunch.

Andrew: Is that what it is for you? It’s always after lunch?

Daniel: It’s always after lunch, because you need to step away from it, and I don’t know, it works for lots of things, just getting away from it. You come back and you start doing it, you’re like, “Ah, this is a bit easier.” Like a bit more natural, and yeah. I think you run out of adrenaline eventually as well. Just kind of like, it just runs out and you just get a bit calmer.

Andrew: What were you doing to do the SEO, search engine optimization for YouTube?

Daniel: So currently or to get started?

Andrew: When you were getting started, when it was basic stuff.

Daniel: Well, I wouldn’t suggest doing it, but I just kind of like lumped up there with huge big long titles and like it was a different . . . Like it’s only four years ago, but even then it was a different time, like it’s a lot . . . Like I’ve got a lot clearer strategy now on how to get the most from YouTube, but back then it was just big old titles.

Andrew: As many keywords as possible . . .

Daniel: I stuffed them full.

Andrew: Were you using any of their tools?

Daniel: Yeah, so their tags to kind of help work it out, but I don’t know, I feel like . . . I’d spend some time before I’d go into like AdWords keyword tool and make sure that I was, because I’m not from America.

That’s where most of my clients come from. I need to make sure I’m using the right language. Sometimes I’m discussing something and they’re like, “I don’t know what to do about it.” So I’ve got to make sure the keywords are relevant to those, and so many times where I think it’s Photoshop course and Photoshop tutorials the killer, you know, for that specific video and you’re just like, “Why was it this other way before?”

Andrew: How did you figure that out?

Daniel: AdWords keyword tools, so Google AdWords, if you use that keyword tool to find out, yeah, I use that all the time.

Andrew: To see what people are more . . . ? What [ties 00:28:49] higher in my search.

Daniel: They type in what I think it should be and just see what they come back with. And often it’s close or just needs . . . like, it’s funny how . . . Like if I start an Illustrator course and but in-design training always does better than course. So the Illustrator course does really good, but in-design training does way better. Nobody calls it in-design course. I don’t know why, I don’t care, but I know. So I make sure I write down the right things and . . .

Andrew: So you know what? I’ve been using . . . I always called it Ahrefs but apparently it’s just called Ahrefs to do this type of thing, and I need them to give me some training on it, because I can’t . . . I get some of the basics but I don’t understand the difference. Look at this, cost per click on the word course is $6 versus the word training it’s only $3, and the volume is about the same.

Daniel: Yeah, those are just weird things where people are bidding on words that they haven’t done a good check, you know.

Andrew: Okay, so they’re all bidding up the word “course” but “training” is where the action really is, got it.

Daniel: And then there’s “tutorial,” and then there’s “learn.” There are kind of some long tail ones that do pretty well for this kind of stuff, and yeah.

Andrew: And that’s the basics that you were doing, you were saying, “Look, what are people more likely to search for? The word course or training? If it’s more likely to be training, then that’s what you jump on.”

Daniel: Exactly. But it’s different per software. That’s the weird thing, you can’t say “blanket courses” are better than “training” or “training” is better than “courses.” It was really depending on what the video was about.

Andrew: Oh, got it, got it.

Daniel: So I would have to check every time, because you’re like, “Oh, this one’s a tutorial. Or this one’s course, but last time it was . . . Something very similar was tutorial.”

Andrew: And look at this. Learn actually had . . . Now, this is where I as someone who knows Ahrefs better than me is going to say, “Andrew, you’re not really reading this right,” but it looks to me like learn has even higher volume than course in training but in higher clicks but lower cost per click.

Daniel: Yeah. But it’s also . . .

Andrew: And you’re saying that’s not enough.

Daniel: . . . a broader term, right? And also like if you do tutorial, it’s a bigger search term but people are looking for free tutorials often, where people are looking for a course they’re willing to pay for it. Like the mindset. This is in my head only, this is not . . . But I feel like I can waste a lot of money on ads, paid ads for tutorial and not get the same return from training.

Andrew: Okay. And so that’s how you are getting your customers, publishing it on there. How did you publish your course? What platform did you use?

Daniel: So like I built my own. Like I looked at the other competitors, Teachable and Thinkific. They’re not that great and there’s a bunch of other ones, but I just wanted to . . . I don’t know. I don’t know what it is about me, but I wanted to do it my own way. So I made this really bad version in . . . What was it? It was one of the old CMSes. It’s around now. I can’t even of think of it. It’s kind of like WordPress, but anyway it’s a bunch of plugins and I did it myself, which was cool. Worked it out. People started paying and then eventually got a developer to build out a proper version of it.

Andrew: For yourself? Is it because you wanted to . . . ? I know for me, I did something similar. I just published it on my own site with my own plugins and software and my own changes to the plugins. In reality, I think that was a mistake. In reality, I think I could have just used someone else’s off-the-shelf software and been much happier and not had to tweak things constantly.

Daniel: That is possible . . . That is probably highly likely. I still enjoy . . . I enjoy it as much as I feel like it’s a necessity so, I like doing it myself just because I like doing. I like the idea of kind of figuring it out and trying to work it out and do it all myself. Like yeah, it took a whole lot long and the site got hacked so many times the one that I built. Holy moly, it turned into a casino every kind of two months.

Andrew: Really?

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: I had that too. And so, since I interviewed Matt Mullenweg like a long time ago, I remember reaching out to him and saying, “Listen, Matt, you should understand WordPress is very hackable. Here’s what happened to me a couple of times.” Now that issue’s gone away. The one that I had, but I like that he actually went in and started helping me with the site and started to giving me feedback and suggestions and tell me, “This plugin is stupid. Go get that one.”
But it is a pain and in reality for me, I think that I had an old view of how to run a business, which was, “You have to just run it yourself. You have to have it on your own domain. You have to have everything in your control.” And the world has clearly changed from that. You could . . . Daniel, you do. You publish on YouTube, even though you don’t own YouTube. They send you way more traffic than if you publish on your own site.

Daniel: Yeah, we’ve got a big Facebook group and I worry about it, but I just make sure that it’s on Facebook and I’m doing stuff on YouTube and on Instagram and Udemy and Skillshare, so like I’d hate it if Udemy died, decided to kick me off the platform. Because that’s a huge big chunk of the revenue, but I’d still have Skillshare and my own site, like I feel like I’ve got a pretty good . . . And YouTube now pays pretty good with the amount of views that I’ve got, you know.

Andrew: Because the only thing now is they let you . . . They let you sell courses directly on their platform, right?

Daniel: I’m not doing that yet. I’m just taking their ad revenue and linking back to my site. They’re much more valuable on my own site, I feel at the moment, like their lifetime value is worth a lot more on my own side.

Andrew: Of what? Of having somebody come to your site and pick a course on your site?

Daniel: Grab them from YouTube and bring them to my site. But that, I might not . . .

Andrew: That could change and we have to be aware that that’s [a belief 00:34:00] that could change.

Daniel: I’m always looking for the next place to . . . because most places and most people don’t know you don’t have to have exclusive courses. Udemy, Skillshare, your own site, YouTube, they don’t . . . None of them want exclusivity. So you can have them all in all.

Andrew: I didn’t realize that.

Daniel: Yeah. That’s what most people are like, “Oh, I’m not going to Skillshare, I’m not going to Udemy, or I only going to have my own site.” Man, none of them want exclusivity, so it’s implied as in people think it is, but that’s what we do in instructorHQ, it’s like you don’t know what you course . . . And it’s probably not going to do well on instructorHQ straight away. It’s more likely to do better on Skillshare and Udemy because they already have an audience looking for them. You’re going to spend time building your own audience, but have them on all of them, have been on CyberU and Skillwise and SkillSuccess, and I’ve got a list if anybody wants them, it’s at instructorhq.com/placestosell and I just keep updating all the places I keep putting my courses, and like it’s on . . . It’s probably on about 20 or 30 of them now, all selling the same course. But yeah, there’s a couple of heavyweights selling them as well.

Andrew: And at some point, a friend of yours if I understand right, said to you, “Can I have whatever you’re using to publish your course for myself?”

Daniel: Yeah. It’s like, “Can I just use what you’re using?” And I was like, “Kind of, here’s a big dump of code,” that didn’t work or we tried . . . Like it was just too hard and enough people asked, and then we decided to kind of open it up to other people to use.

Andrew: And what were you doing? Were you giving them the free CMS, whatever that was plus the plugins that you had with your tweaks to the plugins?

Daniel: No. Originally it was . . . So I did all that stuff, built out a proper version with a developer and that’s the version people wanted.

Andrew: A proper version for yourself?

Daniel: Yes, exactly. I built a proper CM . . . I built instructorHQ. The thing that runs my courses, I built that.

Andrew: Just for yourself?

Daniel: Yep. Just for myself.

Andrew: Why? What did you want out of it that you couldn’t get somewhere else?

Daniel: Well, the places didn’t do . . . like I wanted a dashboard where I pulled into my Skillshare and Udemy and . . .

Andrew: Numbers, you wanted to know how many people watching your stuff on Skillshare and Udemy.

Daniel: Which videos are doing well, which videos are doing badly, which keywords are bringing the sales from YouTube, like I wanted . . . That was one of the big things.

Andrew: Which YouTube videos, which keywords were doing well on YouTube?

Daniel: Yeah. And bringing in sales, yeah.

Andrew: So, Daniel, you’re not a developer, you had to get somebody to code this up instead of doing, what? Spending five minutes going to three different sites every day?

Daniel: Yep.

Andrew: That’s it? You just said, “Look for myself, I understand that this is maybe . . . That maybe it’s not unnecessary, maybe it’s overkill, but I want one dashboard with all the data that I need and I could go to all these different places, I maybe even could merge it into a spreadsheet. Screw that, I’m going to go and do it myself, put it up in a big . . . ”

Daniel: Big screen above my office and put it up there, but also I’m a . . . Like I’m a UI designer, so I really wanted everything to be in the right place. And using other platforms, because it’s templated, it’s either a lot of plugins to make it all connect up the way you want it or you’ve got to go in and start messing around with the code anyway. So I was like . . . I don’t know, you make a very good point, I should probably go off and do something else, but it’s too late now, I made it.

Andrew: But did you . . . ? You know, one thing that I noticed about you and this is one of things that I admire most about you is, every freaking detail is so well looked after. Like the fact that your glasses are not, “Here is just what’s going to help me see better.” They’re interesting right now. I look at your site, I see three different pairs of glasses on one of your pages, each one of them has some interesting look but it’s clearly Daniel in each one of them. We’re not talking about like a drastic look. You got your personality, you’ve got your trademark but it has to be interesting. Everything has to have that look. I like it.

Daniel: I know, it’s like . . . I made a decision a long time ago, like the business in New Zealand is Bring Your Own Laptop, nothing to do with me, like I was one of the instructors there so that I could back out of that slowly and like have it fully managed, whereas the online stuff I had to make decisions. Is it going to be Dan the superhero or is it going to be Bring Your Own Laptop and I move into getting other instructors involved? And I went, “I’d be Dan the superhero.”

Andrew: And so you said from the beginning, “I’ve got to have all my sites be, I come up with the vision for them, other people will execute, create courses and so on.”

Daniel: Yep.

Andrew: But you know what? I did see on . . . Right now as I was looking on Ahrefs . . . I’m going to call it Ahrefs, screw it. I was looking on there. Your top pages are interviews. Are you doing your own podcast yourself?

Daniel: Yep, yep, I got a podcast. Yep.

Andrew: So that’s something that you still want to hold onto because it’s a lot of the brand it’s still connected to you? Okay, got it. So you gave it to your friend. You gave it to other people, this software for publishing their own courses. How did it do? Was it great? Did it work?

Daniel: No. It’s really hard to do if you don’t like make it properly. It was just like, “Here you go, here’s some code, try and make it work.” And that just didn’t work for the people that wanted it. So yeah, it was just . . . Yeah, it didn’t work. We couldn’t just hand it over the thing we made because it just wasn’t ready for multiple people to use or at least they weren’t capable of getting it going themselves.

Andrew: Why didn’t you give up on it at that point? Said, “Hey, look, I got my business.” My sense is, here’s why I’m asking these questions, I want to know how much of it was you in the back of your head saying, “This could be a thing someday. This could be software someday,” and how much it was it, “I just needed to create it for myself. A few friends ask for it. Fine, I’ll give it to them.” How much was serendipity, the world moving you toward something and how much was you saying, “I got a hunch. Maybe I’m letting myself be pulled in a direction”?

Daniel: No. It was totally wondered at myself and got to a point where it was so good, like it felt good to us, you know. And I was like let’s spin this off into its own thing. Yeah. But it was accidental that that happened. It just kind of grew into it afterwards.

Andrew: You told our producer, “Once I got started I went and got my first customer.” So our producer, Brian Benson produced this episode. He said, “Where’d you get your first customers?” And you said, “I guilted my friends, some of them are still paying and not even using it.” Is that true?

Daniel: Yep. Yeah. Everybody at the beginning, I was like, “Hey, would you use this?” And they’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” like I know a lot of instructors, I was like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” And lots of designers and people and different things. [inaudible 00:40:24]. I was like, “Great, made it, tada, now start paying for it.” They were like, “Yeah, I can’t wait.” And I still see them on the like monthly subs and I’m like, “Dude, you don’t have these . . . ” Like, “Oh, I’ll use it,” but I basically guilted them all into it and they’ve never used it. And they still pay.

Andrew: It’s such an awkward thing to go and ask your friends to sign up and to and to pay. What did you get out of it, beyond the money and a little bit of confidence and a leg up? Were they giving you feedback on it? Were they doing something else?

Daniel: Yes, so got user testings from them. Which was perfect. And no, I think they were just . . . It was more like a way to support me, I think. They’re like, “Yeah, that’s a great idea. Yeah. That seems like a good idea.” It was mainly just I think morale and encouragement than anything.

Andrew: I get that sometimes when I look at some of my old customers that they were just there helping me, and I felt such guilt that they were doing nothing but helping me that I didn’t properly thank them and show appreciation but I always felt it.

Let’s talk about going beyond your friends. How did you get other people to sign up?

Daniel: My strength is making courses. So I made courses on how to make courses. That’s kind of basically where we get most of our new subscribers, so I make a podcast about how to make courses, an instructorHQ show, and lot stuff on YouTube. And those same places where like Udemy and Skillshare, where I sell my courses, I now have courses on how to make courses, which is very hard to like SEO when you’re making courses on courses.

Andrew: Are you saying on Udemy you’ve got courses on how to make courses?

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: And the idea is, people are going to watch this course and say, “I need the software, let’s get the software that Dan told me that I should get.”

Daniel: I kind of folded in there, not at the beginning, but for the people that are more than half the way through, I start introducing what I use as a tool. Those people are committed to the course, and it’s not a sales lead that through there. And I just got . . . I guess I show the perks and comparisons to other things and offer them as an option. And I do that through all my training and YouTube videos. Yeah, for [inaudible 00:42:21].

Andrew: Yeah, it looks like on YouTube you started about a year ago to create an instructorHQ channel. That’s when you started doing all your content marketing.

Daniel: That’s it, that’s when the product . . . We now user testing and we started actually marketing it.

Andrew: I’m looking at your videos, you have under 1,000 views on these. There’s one here, Q&A, 82 views. Another one, “How to start a YouTube channel for online course creators,” 121 channels. I feel . . . Actually, I thought I would feel a lot of like shame when I started publishing stuff on YouTube and seeing only a few hundred people, but I feel nothing but pride. I used to ask people, “Do you feel embarrassed that the count is so low?” But I think I’m just so happy to be a maker and have something that I care about on there that I don’t worry.

But you as somebody who on your other channel you get as one free Dreamweaver course for 2018 has 371,000, 371,000 views. Do you look at this instructorHQ and say, “People are going to think I’m a fraud for having only 100 plus views and telling them how to be a course creator.”

Daniel: No, because I guess, for me it’s easy because I can point to this other channel and say, “This is what I’ve done, and this . . . ” You know, so it’s a nice easy. Like, I probably if it was my first go at it and, you know, I wasn’t doing well on another channel, I probably have a big chunk of impulses, but that’s the new channel and like, yeah. I don’t even know if YouTube is going to be a big thing. It’s more like the podcast is going, the course is on the other side, YouTube is going, Instagram’s going, just throw it at everything for this business and work out, you know. We don’t have enough volume now to work out what the best channel is. So just keep sticking out there.

Andrew: Just experimenting.

Daniel: And plus YouTube, you can make it work for you in terms of it being low effort, right? Like I take snippets of those courses that I made and they go up on YouTube, so there I’ve already made them for something else, and a lot of them are podcasts that I’ll do interviews with and they can go up. I try to make sure I get maximum value out of them all.

Andrew: Yeah. What is your process for creating? I do see some of it as podcasts, full podcast. There’s your interview with film animator Lucas Ridley. That was up seven months ago. That’s the whole thing on YouTube, the whole podcast is in there.

Daniel: That’s it. So my process is the interviews just go up to the podcast and to Udemy. Sorry, YouTube. But in terms of more like say, let’s say how to launch a course on Udemy, I’ll make it for the big long course that I charge people for, and then I will do a podcast version of it. Basically, me and another guy and Tayla Coman, we co-interview that. And we, you know, we just talk about what we talked about in that course, so the content is kind of there. Then we pass it on to Deane Patterson, he turns it into a blog post. And then we, you know, we just try and pick that one little topic and try and get as much out of it. But like we still . . . Because this only a year old. It’s hard to know where that’s coming from, so it is just put it out everywhere and it’s working, but it’s hard to know what’s working properly yet.

Andrew: But once you find a topic it’s, “I found a topic, I already did a course on it. Let’s just do an interview where we have a conversation, and we turn that into something. Let’s then have somebody put that into a blog post. Then you’ve got that.”

Daniel: That’s it.

Andrew: I wonder if I should be doing that. So if I do an interview with someone who created software for himself and started to sell it, maybe there’s a topic in there that I could turn into a blog post and a YouTube video. What would you suggest that I do?

Daniel: Yeah. So not all them, not every topic, it’s just I make sure I pick topics that has the scope to go across them all. The interviews are easy because I find interviewing easier. It’s not as much prep . . .

Andrew: It is easier.

Daniel: But things like I make the videos, and a lot of it it’s like saying of course videos, is I structure it out enough but is a lot of just kind of, it’s very colloquial and kind of conversational. Then I give it to other people who are just better at it, like I didn’t even want to make a blog post. I know what should be out there. I don’t read blog posts, but I found an amazing copywriter who fills out the blog post so amazingly, I’m like, “Man, I wish I spoke that well,” you know, but it is my content just fleshed out by amazing people.

And I’ve got a designer to help me design a page and then I’ve got a developer to get it up to the different sites we kind of share it around in. I try to do what I do is make, like these interviews like or make the videos and then that’s where I want to turn off. I want to . . . I set the systems going for those other things, but I don’t actually do them.

Andrew: So you might say, “Look, I see that one big topic for my people is somebody stealing their course.” If it’s somebody who never created of course, they’re worried, “What if I put it out there and someone steals it?” For someone who has created of course, no doubt, some of it it’s going to get stolen. We think, “Okay, that could be a podcast interview . . .

Daniel: That would be a great one.

Andrew: . . . which I will then turn into a snippet, that would be a great blog post. People are coming to me with this problem, I could answer it in one and turn it into all these different platforms. Boom. And every one of them . . . ”

Daniel: That as well works. You can do 30 seconds, like it’s hard to find the bytes but my editor goes through it and finds the little . . . I don’t even know what is the . . . ? How is it, 10 seconds you can do on Instagram Stories? Whatever it is, like he’ll find little chunks and just kind of do it and put them up there as well.

Andrew: I think it’s 14 seconds for stories, I could be wrong.

Daniel: Something like that. So it’s not the perfect format. And if you were doing it for Instagram, you wouldn’t do it that way but it’s kind of like, “Let’s just do this one course video and let that kind of system do its thing and it kind of ends up around the place.” And if Instagram becomes the place, make sure everything’s tagged, and if Instagram is the place, then we can start doing Instagram first things. But I just don’t know yet. So I’m just doing the stuff I like doing, which is making course videos and doing interviews and letting other people do those.

Andrew: And so just like you used to teach Adobe, now you’re teaching how to create courses and you happen to be highlighting your own core software and people can sign up for your core software if they want to learn more about how to create courses for themselves. Many of them can sign up and never use your software at all, they just learn how to create it, go to Udemy. This is the way that you’re thinking.

Your next step is to say, “You know what? I think I need to create a funnel with some paid advertising.” You told our producer you’re starting to do that. So your funnel is, what?

Daniel: Ads to webinar, webinar to live course, but in that live course you’re paying, so it’s, you know, webinar is free but the course is paid, and that course is the same fee as the hosting. There’s no . . . Say you’re paying $14.95 for your course to do it live, and with me. And then as part of that course, we’ll show you how to use the software. And you can afterwards just stop paying and don’t do, you know, you’ve got what you need but a lot of people because I’ve helped them into like getting their first test video up on instructorHQ, they continue on because they have to pick one of them and, you know, they’ve already [inaudible 00:49:04]. That’s my kind of pathway to getting people on, is education.

And part of that education is showing them how to use the platform in a known, and because they’re already paying, you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to then sell them up, so you to say, “Hey, it’s paying subscription you’ve got this thing.” Really what I’m trying to do is sell hosting. But what I’ve realized is actually it’s probably going to be [inaudible 00:49:26], it’s probably going to be a better revenue from the training part. But in terms of lifetime value, that’s what will come from the hosting, you know, you will continue on and selling courses.

Andrew: You know what? I think that the course world needs is producers. I’m going to toss this out. It’s really hard for you and me, as people who’ve been on camera for years to get on camera and record our own thing. It’s much easier for us to have a conversation like this and have someone pull it out. I find that for listeners, often it’s easier to have a second voice and not just listen to one voice for a long time.

I feel like one of the things that we do with our courses at Mixergy Premium is, I’ve hired a producer who will coach the ideas out of the guest, so that the guest has no preparation, just show up, if you’ve got a book, let us read the book. If you’ve got a blog, set a blog post, let us do it. We’ll put together an outline then we’ll ask you questions designed to have you tell us . . . I see you’re nodding like you’re appreciating this, right? Have you not . . . ? Tell us what you need, we’ll record it for you, then we give it to you. And now you’ve got your course material. And if it’s . . . If you say, “I do something on the screen, our producer in the past used to be me.” Let’s say, “Let me see your screen, do screen share here right now with me right now. Let’s just take a look. Record it. We’re going to record it. We got it. And then we edit out . . . ” You are going, “Oh, damn it. This was a stupid thing for me to have clicked on, I just happened to click it. Wait, where did I go?” Because a lot of times people don’t know where they click, right?

My wife sometimes asks me, “Can you tell me how to move this one thing in Keynote? Can you move over from your computer? I don’t mean to be like a big jerky mad about it, but I don’t know, I just sit here and I figure it out in a second. I get it. So it’s that too for the people who create courses.

I feel like there are people who are experts who need somebody to coach it out of them, and then they get their videos and now they can start going out and talking about it. And because someone else who’s created with them, it takes some of the imposter syndrome out. It’s Daniel Scott and his team created it. If it sucks, it’s not on me it’s on them. You’re smiling. You see this, right?

Daniel: Actually, I didn’t considered that side of it. I’m like I’ve written down every single good thing that you can do to support somebody making a course, but actually doing it with them, not doing it for them, is something I haven’t even thought about.

Andrew: Right.

Daniel: Because that was, basically, that’s kind of what I’m doing with the training without charging for it, it’s like you know, “Okay, sends us a test video of your microphone. Okay. These are things you need to go to fix that.” And then they come back and there’s a lot of toing and froing, but never with the . . . It’s always technical, it’s never with the concepts. And imposter syndrome is the crazy big hurdle, like that for every single person . . . we do a part of the courses, we get a psychologist and to talk about imposter syndrome and how it’s not just you. But the actual sharing the risk of it being shit, is a really good idea.

Andrew: That helps, and then doing it for them, it doesn’t take that much. I used to think it would be really tough. It’s not. If you have a set of questions for most people, you could just guide them to do it. And frankly, if you just have a babysitter for most of us, it’ll be enough, right? I can’t do my email by myself. I got a babysitter, someone on my team to do it with me, “Boom, I’m done, I’m fast. In fact, why are you even on a phone? We got to get out of here.” It’s really, it’s a game changer. It’s really helpful.

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: So let’s continue on here then. I think in a lot of the world we need someone who gets paid very little, who has a lot of clear direction to do the work with us. What’s this? We asked you what’s your biggest challenge and you said, “Look, we have a lot of advanced stuff. We’re trying to hide it.” Like how do you show what the software does, is one of the challenges. Am I right?

Daniel: Yes. So I built it for me. So it was always about an advance person using it. So we built it, released it and it does all the basic things, but that’s hidden behind . . . Well, it was mixed in with the real advanced stuff. So our biggest, like, user testing but we did it with people that are experienced because we figured that would be the best person to test with. But that wasn’t our audience. We want to help new people. So they got into this really complex looking thing. So we spend our time now reorganizing, it’s all in there, it’s just it’s how to layer it or turn it . . . Like hit milestones where you can turn things on and off without it being, here is like this huge amount of things you can do, you can do but probably for the first thing you need to do two or three, you know, it’s working that out.

That’s kind of our constant issue of trying to get newbies. We want people that are . . . We don’t want technical people, we want people who are like got a good idea, just want to make a course because they see it’s a kind of a cool industry to be in or a cool way to deliver their content. We just want to make it easy. So that’s our hard thing at the moment is how do we make it super easy but unpack it as they get more and more advanced or at least self-identify that are more advanced that can see things.

Andrew: All right. Let me tell you my big takeaways from this interview. Number one, obviously, go online if you’re teaching anything. Though, now I would suggest, I wonder if the world can now go to the other direction, if we’re all so accepting of going online that Andrew says, “Obviously go online,” there might be room to go in the other direction and go offline. But that’s one big thing.

The other thing that I got from you was, you went to platforms that existed. You did it with your free education where you went to YouTube and you started posting it. And then once you did courses, you also published to Udemy and Skillshare and a list of . . . Where was it that people can get that big list?

Daniel: instructorhq.com/placestosell.

Andrew: Right. So just go all these different platforms and accept that the world is platform centric. Unfortunately, it sucks. I would have preferred that it was all independent site centric, but if that’s the way the world is, that’s the way the world is. And the way that you told me that you limit your risk is instead of saying, “I limit my risk by putting things on my own site where I have full control of it, no one can take down my site.” You say, “I limit my risk by spreading my content on lots of different platforms, so if I get kicked out of Udemy for some crazy reason or Udemy starts to create their own course to compete with me and people switch, I still have Skillshare. I lose a lot, but I don’t lose everything and I don’t even lose a majority.” So that’s the next thing.
With software the thing that I took away from you was, that starting out with education and then giving the software for free is a nice way for somebody who’s in the content creation space to get into software, you say, “Look, I’ll keep teaching it to you, I’ll give you the software free, cancel whenever this course is done or just keep on going, don’t do anything and you’ll continue getting this software for free.” That’s a really nice approach.

Daniel: That’s the process. Yeah.

Andrew: And then also to say, “I created this thing for myself, maybe I can make it available to others,” is a really helpful thing. I think Pat Flynn did that with his podcast player, and I know, we at Mixergy paid him for his podcast player, and we love it. It’s been on our site for, I think, years now.

The suggestion that I had for you was, see if you can hire producers, like a real person who would just say, “I’m going to sit here and record this course with you. Here’s how it’s going to work. And at the end you’re going to get these video files or we can even edit them for you, and put it out and you now have your first baby course and it’s going to get you going.” We do that by the way on Mixergy. You like that, right?

Daniel: I liked that, because I, basically, I’ve got that infrastructure now because for my own courses, I’ve got an editor, I’ve got a subtitler, I’ve got all those things. All we need is . . . Like your producer, Brian, he was really good at kind of getting me ready for this to make sure I was aware of what was going on and what was going to be asked, and that was . . . I think that’s the only position missing. It’s probably the most important position for that idea as well.

Andrew: Yeah, and record the producer. So then you can give it to them. I think that that would help a lot. We do it, if you want to see what we do, if you’ve got a mixergy.com/more, you’ll get to see, you’ll see like Gabriel Weinberg, the creator of DuckDuckGo. He’s just talking to us via Zoom or Skype. Kurt Elster, he is a guy who runs Ethercycle. He’s just talking to . . . In that case, it’s not me. He’s talking to our producer. Anyway, it’s mixergy.com/more for anyone who wants to see it. And I think in general it’s easier to hire people now than it seems to create . . . yeah. .

Daniel: It’s crazy [00:57:19]. Yes, all the team together, that’s like . . . I work from a farm in Ireland, like I don’t know, I haven’t met half the team. Are just . . .

Andrew: Are you literally on a farm?

Daniel: Yep.

Andrew: So you’re farming when you’re done work?

Daniel: No. I’m on like a big . . . It’s a slice out of a farm, but there’s cows the other side, so it feels like a farm, like the back fence, cows, next door neighbor, it’s cows.

Andrew: So your neighbors all have farms. Your neighbors have farms but you don’t?

Daniel: Exactly. I’m surrounded by farms, so no, I have a slice of grass of the old farm but it’s . . .

Andrew: What do you like about that? Why you like that?

Daniel: I like that I got . . . I moved to Dublin thinking I had to like move to the big city to start this in-person training, then online courses came. And I was like, let’s move down to close to her folks. It’s got a nice big house for the same amount of money that we would have got in a tiny house in Dublin. I got a bit garage, life is good and I’m in. The kids get to go to quite a country school, so I don’t know, it feels like lots of perks down here.

Andrew: So you’re doing over $1 million a year in U.S. dollars, right?

Daniel: Yeah.

Andrew: So what have you gotten to spend that on? What’s a perk of being able to do that?

Daniel: So, my only . . . Like nothing yet. Like I’ll be able to pay my house off, like we only bought it about six months ago. So I’ll be able to pay that off now. And my big thing is business class flights, like that was like on my goal list, like when I am rich, I am going to fly business class. And I have for the last year, because like this thing’s really the million a year, it’s taking off maybe in the last two properly, you know, like before that I was earning pretty good. But it’s the last couple of years where it’s been bananas. In the last couple of years, business class flights. That was on my to-do list.

Andrew: To where?

Daniel: So I get to fly . . . I was in New York two weeks ago, I was in LA last week and for mainly Adobe conferences, I was at Udemy Live in Berlin two weeks before that. Like I get the freedom to go, but I get to go it in business class. It’s so much nicer. I went on these trips anyway, but it’s just nice to be able to . . . Yeah.

Andrew: To do what? Can you sleep?

Daniel: That’s my perk myself. Yeah.

Andrew: Were you able to sleep?

Daniel: Yep.

Andrew: That’s the big benefit, right, that if you take business class, you take first class, you sleep, you’re done.

Daniel: It’s business class, if you don’t feel like . . . It’s so good. Yeah.

Andrew: All right. The website for anyone who wants to go check it out is instructorhq.com. No more .co.nz.

Daniel: No. Dot com, we got a good one. Yeah.

Andrew: I want to thank the sponsor who made this interview happen. If you’re looking to host a website, really guys go over to hostgator.com/mixergy. Whatever your friends tell you is probably better, guess what? They’re probably owned by the same freaking company. And if there’s a feature that they don’t have on that website, I’m giving you the baby intro. You can call them up and you can say, “I’m ready to upgrade.” They’ll give you all the upgrade features that you need. But, start small, who cares? Go to hostgator.com/mixergy, it’s a solved problem, work on your business. Let them handle hosting.

All right. I think I’m done here, Daniel. This was great.

Daniel: Yeah, thanks for having me, Andrew. Cool.

Andrew: Is it formal that I’ve been calling you Daniel the whole time instead of calling you Dan?

Daniel: Doesn’t matter, I take both, like I introduce myself as Daniel and normally revert to Dan after a little while. You can call me Dan now, Andrew. I feel like we’ve . . . What are we doing? We’ve done an hour now. We’re buddies.

Andrew: We’re buddies. All right. Cool, Dan, thanks so much.

Daniel: Bye, Andrew.

Andrew: You bet. Bye everyone.

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