Case Study: Cloud Living
How Tung Tran Made $28,329 in 5 Days with his first online course.

Tung Tran launched his first online course ever a few weeks back. The course is called AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp, and it teaches people how to build Amazon Affiliate websites.

He earned just shy of $30,000 in the first 5 days. 

A couple weeks after this was written, he sold 23 more seats in his course, bringing the total to $42,000 in about the first 6 weeks. He also plans to continue to market it to get more and more students every single month!

After checking in with Tung about 10 months later, his course has generated $8,000 – $12,000 / month in income, and between that and the launch will have generated a solid 6 figures in it’s first year.  

In this article, you will get all the behind the scenes information on exactly how he did it. Our Monetize Your Expertise team worked with him every step of the way, and so we will be showing you exactly what he did, and what we did, that allowed him to achieve this kind of results. It will walk you through the exact method we used to build the course (with templates), his actual launch sequence, and even the hourly journal he kept on the day of the launch. 

The goal is to give you everything you need to also be able to wake up and see this in your inbox:


Simply put, we went through 3 essential phases…

1. Validation and pre-selling the course

2. Building a world-class course

3. Executing an online course launch strategy


Normally in case studies there is some kind of a disclaimer stating how the results are not typical. However, in a way these results really ARE typical. How? Because we knew it would succeed from the very beginning based on the plan we created. And as you’ll see below, we run the numbers, and his results (based on industry averages) are not unusual. 

Simply put, while of course we can’t guarantee anything, if you do the exact same things that we did, and have a similar starting point, then you should get relatively similar results. 

If you want to learn the exact steps that we used to build and launch this course, then invest the time to read closely all the way to the end of this case study. 


The Brand Behind AMZ Affiliate Bootcamp 

'I’ve been building Cloud Living for a while, and currently have built it to about 6k pretty well engaged subscribers. I started Cloud Living in February 2013 just as a place for me to document my online journey. The blog grew pretty fast in the first year thanks to my public case studies on how I built and grew profitable affiliate sites. Since then, I let it sit and the growth stalled out. The blog was making only around $1k a month for about 2 years. I wanted to sell my own products but wasn’t very happy this first attempt. I tried to sell a PDF 3 years ago on the same topic that we ultimately made the course on for $99. I launched that ebook around February 2014 and made $7k in sales in 3 days – around 70 customers.The results were sub-par, and I wasn’t excited about the quality of the product so I discontinued it after 3 months. I didn’t feel it was good enough to charge a premium, so I wanted to build something better. Last year I decided that I wanted to focus on the blog and grow a business out of it. That’s why I decided to make a course. I know this is something my audience really want so it wasn’t a hard decision to make. For the course we built this time around, I’m extremely happy with the quality and feel totally confident to sell it at a premium. Without you and your service [having the course built by the MYE team] I wouldn’t be able to create this quality course myself. This time around, I was committed to make the best training course on the market and that’s why I turned to you [Monetize Your Expertise]'


Course Revenue Results 5 Days After Release 

  • Pre-launch revenue – $3,479 (7 sales)
  • 5 day launch revenue – $24,850 (50 sales)
  • Total first launch revenue – $28,329
  • (57 total sales) 


We tackled this project in 3 distinct phases

  • Phase 1 – Pre-selling and validation
  • Phase 2 – how we built the course
  • Phase 3 – how we sold the course


Let’s go through each phase one by one. 


Phase 1 – Pre-selling and validation

Note: Validation is mostly important if it is your first time creating a product on a particular topic. For example, if you run a blog and you want to create your first product for it. However, a lot of clients come to us who have been giving talks, offering services, workshops, books, on their topic for years. In this case, they already have validation – if you’ve had hundreds of people pay you $5,000 for a workshop, then you can be confident that you can find hundreds of other people who will pay you 1/10th of that for an online course version. 

As you read above, Tung’s goal for 2016 was to monetize his blog. He had made some decent passive income,  but nothing to get super excited about. It was time to take things to the next level. How? An online course selling at $497 a pop! 

Tung took stock of the things that he knew, and the different types of businesses he had built (for example he was making over $50,000 per month selling t-shirts at one point) and ultimately landed on helping people build Amazon affiliate websites in the same way he had done successfully. This was also a topic that he had written extremely popular case studies about and had even sold an ebook on, so he suspected a premium course on the same topic would be in high demand. 

Now, this sounds like a good IDEA. But in reality, ideas aren’t worth much without validation and execution. The next step was to test the assumption that people would actually pay for a course on this topic. This is something many first time instructors forget to do, and then end up with a course no one wants to buy. If YOU think “it would be so cool to make a course on XYZ” that is a very different thing than your CUSTOMER saying (preferably while drooling) “I would do anything to buy a quality course on XYZ – it would solve my exact problems”. 

Using the best practices of online course validation, Tung built a launch sales campaign. His entire blog campaign is included below. 


A KEY POINT: 

At this point in the process you should have NOT built the course. In fact you should have nothing more than an outline. This is important. 

Tung followed this methodology, so at this point he had not built any part of the course. The idea was to write blog posts around the same topic, deliver value, drum up excitement and see if he could get people to buy the course NOW in exchange for early access when he built the course later. 

If it failed, then the only resources wasted would be a few hours writing blog posts (versus several months producing a course). 

Here is his exact validation pre-sales campaign – it is simply 6 blog posts chronicling an exciting case study example of what he would teach in the course 


Tung’s 6-Part Validation Prelaunch

Piece #1 –   The $10k Case Study Challenge Piece

#2 –  $10k Challenge Update #1

Piece #3 –  $10k Challenge Update #2 <<< He announced the course is coming soon on this article 

After post #3 the course was considered to be officially validated and worth building. The reason is based on the way the first 3 posts were received and the conversions up to this point. Posts 4-6 were focused on building anticipation for the future course while it was being built. 

Piece #4 –  10k Challenge Update #3 <<< He keeps mentioning it on every new update

Piece #5 –  $10k Challenge Update #4 <<< He keeps mentioning it on every new update

Piece #6 –  $10k Challenge – Final Update <<< The case study site making $3k per month by this post, and Tung increases the emphasis on the course and urgency with each new update 

Results – Pre-sales revenue – $3,479 (7 sales) 

Now that it was validated, it was time to build it! 


Phase 2 – Building a world-class course

Originally, Tung had known he wanted to make an online course and had even made some initial steps towards building one. But as many first-time course creators find out…it can feel a bit overwhelming at first when you try to take on the whole thing yourself. 

Not even taking into account the validation beforehand, or the marketing after…to build a high-quality course you need to…. 

  • Be able to translate your idea/concept into a course curriculum
  • Turn that curriculum into individual lesson plans
  • Understand instructional design well enough to make your content effective an engaging
  • Create custom designed slides for your entire course (often 500+ slides)
  • Design and build workbooks and bonuses for the course
  • Record the videos with high-quality presentation skills
  • Edit all the videos to fix mistakes and improve the quality
  • Project manage the whole process (i.e. do all of the above steps for 40 different lessons, on a clear schedule)
  • Put up your content on a course platform (Tung used  MemberMouse)

Realizing that his time would NOT be well-spent trying to figure out all of this and do it all himself – that’s when Tung came to us. 

He turned to me and my team of course experts here at Monetize Your Expertise for this project to ensure the final product was worth charging a premium for, and something he could be proud of. We are both extremely proud of the results we achieved together. 

Here is the exact process we used to build the course. 


Step #1 – We mapped out product based on the goals

There are many ways to build a course. You can build a text-based course, a video-based course that focused on live filming, or on recording your screen while you teach someone to program, or by recording slides as you teach. Usually it’s a mix. You can also have courses 2 hours long, or 20 hours long. With or without PDF handouts. With or without bonus content (such as expert interviews).

Here is what we decided on: 

  • Ultimately 8 modules, with 8-10 lessons each
  • We would launch with 3 modules completely finished, and drip feed the rest (to maximize efficiency)
  • The lesson length would average about 8-10 minutes (although it ranges from 5-15)
  • The content style would primarily be a mix of recording well-designed slides, mixed with recorded screen walkthroughs 


Now at some point, you might have wondered… How do they build a course for someone else? How do they make a course on a content they are not experts in? How do they logistically do it? 

Let me explain the process, which also serves to illustrates the workflow of course content creation. Also, you can review our FAQs which explores these and other questions in more detail. 

Specifically here is how we do it…. 

Note: you can use a similar workflow to efficiently produce courses yourself. 

1. Organize and go through all starting materials. Usually, this is a published book, series of blog posts, or a live workshop that we will be turning into an online course.

2. We schedule around 4-5 Content Development Calls with you, where we interview you about your course topic and build your entire course curriculum. DIY version: outline your course as a whole, and then have a friend interview you, and have that file transcribed.

3. We take the course curriculum and break it down into lesson plans for every single lesson. DIY version: clean up the transcription, break it into lessons, and flesh it out.

4. We build you custom-designed slides and workbooks for the whole course. DIY version: try to use a really nice design template and possibly a design tool like  canva.com

5. Client records the materials from the slide decks and lesson plans we’ve built for them.

6. We edit your videos, project manage the process, and do internal quality assurance to make sure the final product is world-class DIY version: for project management, use  Basecamp. For video editing, don’t do this yourself, hire someone from  Upwork.

7. The client receives the completed course, and instead of  500-5,000 hours of work, they’ve just had to show up to the content development calls, and take a day to record from the lesson plans.

Keep reading to the end and you’ll get access to a free course tool I built I built for you, and a list of resources to maximize your chances of success with your project. 


AN OPTIONAL STRATEGY

It is optional but highly recommended to use every opportunity to get feedback and continued validation of the course you are producing, particularly by involving your early adopters. During this particular course project. we got a ton of feedback from customers every step of the way to make sure we produced the best product possible. Here are examples of real life feedback we got from the students (click on the arrows on the side to slide through them):


Note: the tool we used to do this was intercom.io

Phase 3 – Executing an online course launch

The structure of this launch might surprise you in its simplicity (and efficacy). Course launches don’t have to be sophisticated, especially if you have some kind of audience. You sometimes have to be a bit more crafty if you don’t have much of an audience to work with, however. 

The Strategy 

A 3-part content series on building a profitable Amazon affiliate site, posted on the blog and blasted out to his email list.

Here is a visual illustration from Digital Marketer that Tung found helpful:

Image from Digital Marketer – wwww.inspirechanges.com/portfolio/mini-class-launch-funnel/


Prelaunch Content #1 – Big Idea and Case Study

Prelaunch Content #2 – Step by step teaching

Prelaunch Content #3 – Addressing objections

Now you might be thinking: “Wait. That’s it?! Write 3 blog posts and mail them out?” 

I know this is a huge sticking point for a lot of people. When people submitted questions about this case study, it usually involved asking about where exactly the traffic came from, and what was the exact marketing strategy. 

Well here is the exact traffic breakdown:

Breaking down what this means:

  • 2,700 total visitors on the sales page
  • This converted to 50 customers (of the $497 product)
  • 1,300 from mailing the launch content (using Activecampaign)
  • 500 from Tung’s Cloud Living Facebook group
  • 500 from direct links on other places on his site
  • The last couple hundred from random anonymous sources


If you do the math for what this means to you: 

  • 1300/6000 = 21.6% click-through from his email list
  • 288/2438 = 11.8% click-through from the Cloud Living Facebook group
  • 235 other visitors from Facebook due to social sharing of the launch content and sales page


These are relatively modest numbers, especially when you consider that these CTR’s are not even on individual emails or links, but just somewhere during the whole campaign. 21.6% of his email list clicked through to the sales page at some point. 

That’s what I mean when I said this case study is by no means an unusual result. The metrics are normal. The strategy is simple. Your expected results will just involve doing the math based on the size of your own email list, social media following, etc. Your conversion rates won’t all be the same, but they can be used as a ballpark estimate.

While we kept this first version of the launch pretty simple, Tung already has big plans for the next round of marketing for the course that we are really excited about. JV partnerships, webinar marketing, PPC, etc. There are several great tools we are looking at to scale his marketing and scale his results. We’ve validated the quality, demand and results every step of the way and now it’s time to double down on those results.


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And that’s it! In just a few hours of your time we outline exactly what you want to build and how, and then we get to work producing it for you while you move on to more important uses of your time. After 1-3 months (depending on course length) we come back to you with the final product. You are free to have as much or little involvement in the process as you'd like.

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