Can You Really Teach Online and Grow Rich?

As part of my own journey to teaching online I have tried a lot of things over the past two plus years, culminating with taking an online course in how to launch my own course from Jenna Soard. Jenna's program, The Course Launcher, was a 4 week program in May and June of 2016. I formally launched 50Plus Nation to the world as I was creating my successful Find Your Niche Online course in Jenna’s program. It is now available commercially on the 50Plus Nation Academy platform.

Because of Jenna’s class I use the Teachable platform for my courses. However, based on the 50Plus Nation business plan I have opted to create a multi-teacher school so that the members of 50PlusNation don’t have to launch their own Teachable sites to validate course ideas unless they want to. By gathering a community of like-minded individuals on 50Plus Nation there will be a built in audience of our own 50Plus brethren to test ideas on.

Using Teachable has pulled me into a broader teaching community that only it is in the unique position to foster. There are many fellow newbie online educators but also a number of very successful six and seven figure annual earners. I know of many of the big players by reputation, but not all. I became aware of some new ones during the recent second annual Teachable Summit which just wound down this month.

During the summit I was able to watch a number of my Millennial and young Gen X role models give solo presentations or participate in moderated panel discussions, as moderator in some cases and panelist in others. Pat Flynn, one of my original role models, moderated a very talented panel. Jenna Soard was a panelist on another panel and did an excellent job bringing a full supply of energy as she talked about a lot of things, not the least of which was her beta-test model for building successful courses. Her strong belief is that free beta-testing, which I tried with success, is the only way to go. However, there were others making the case for alternative course launching models.

Danny Iny of Mirasee, like Jenna, is all about testing, or in his case “piloting”, new courses with a select group of students. However, unlike Jenna, he is not a fan of free. He is all about what he calls discounted, but paid, “co-creation” citing research that demonstrates that people don’t mind paying a discounted price to be considered co-creators. This behavior has been labeled the IKEA Effect by researchers. I did not know of Danny before the Summit but he stood out for me on the Teachable panel he participated in. His performance drove me to explore his website where I found a plethora of free material as well as some reasonably priced e-books on the Kindle platform. It was Danny’s book, Teach and Grow Rich, The Emerging Opportunity for Global Impact, Freedom and Wealth that jumped out at me and triggered this blog post and its title.

In Teach and Grow Rich Danny reviews the broader history of the web starting with the first websites some of which made huge amounts of money for their creators because they were early in the game. From there Danny gives a very thorough tour of monetization schemes on the web over time up to the present. He points out that we are currently at a point where online education is generating a lot of interest among online entrepreneurs. However, he goes on to identify what he describes as a wide chasm in the market. This chasm is between the prices being charged for a lot of the material being presented as educational and what Danny believes to be its true value given that it is merely information, at best

Danny’s major point is that information served up by itself, without other forms of support, is not education. He makes it clear that, in his opinion, real education is much more than information. His concern is that today a lot of pure information is masquerading as education at inflated prices given that it is just information. His indictment of the current state of the market is that information providers are only interested in the sale, not the outcomes for students.

Danny’s view, which I can support given my three degrees, is that education has always been a relatively expensive proposition. Getting degrees, certifications or picking up real skills generally takes time and money. The question is how many of today’s online “educators” are interested in the outcomes for the students who are buying their expensive information-based courses with very little meaningful support. On his website Danny makes a very clear statement, “I am not going to publish videos and a membership site (another major sub-trend - my words). I am going to take responsibility for the outcomes of my students”. That is an incredibly bold statement to make. I don’t know Danny well enough to say for certain that he is delivering on that claim but just reading and hearing it in his promotional material really piqued my interest. 

I want 50Plus Nation to be about outcomes, not just promises. Even before hearing Danny Iny's story at Mirasee I have gone back and forth on whether 50Plus Nation should be confined, at least in the early going, to the niche of teaching members of the 50Plus community to deliver courses based on our decades of experience. That feels like a clear, tight mission. However, I can argue that other non-course product or service ideas can easily be validated by the same community on the 50Plus Nation platform along with course offerings. The question stands, should the niche for the help that 50Plus Nation provides be confined to teaching members how to deliver their expertise online in the form of courses exclusively or should it include other products and services from the outset or over time? I am still mulling it over. If you have thoughts please feel free to enter them in the comment section on the blog page or better yet take a quick survey.

I realize I didn’t answer the “get rich” question in the title. For the moment suffice it to say I believe that “rich” is a relative term. I will return to the answer in my next post.