Kat Dunn founded the Kat The Coursebuilder brand in 2015 with the goal of “helping 1 million people teach 1 million” by providing turn key done for you course building and marketing services. Kat is a professional Instructional Designer with a Masters Degree in Instructional Design, a Masters Degree in Business and more than 20 years of experience building and launching courses for some of the most recognizable brands in the world such as Walmart, Verizon Wireless, ADP, The Federal Government and dozens more. Kat has assembled a team of more than 20 industry professionals to service her clients which includes coaches, speakers, authors, entrepreneurs and celebrities that are expanding their brands with courses. KTCB has launched over 17,000 courses since 2015, in 5 countries, on 3 continents.
N: There are probably a lot of people out there who may benefit greatly from courses, but don’t even know that this world exists, so for those people who say, “what do you mean by course?”, what do you mean by course?
K: That is a really great foundational question, so it’s great that we’re starting there. A course is an instructional pathway, so the full term that that instructional pathway can take is varied. So the three main types of courses are instructor led- that is where there is in-person instruction. There’s typically a classroom style setup and an in-person instructor. The second type of course is virtual instructor led training, also known as VILT. That’s similar to what we’re doing now on zoom, you see me, I see you, but we’re not in person, we’re virtual. And that’s what a lot of us have been doing throughout COVID, there have been a lot of virtual instructor led trainings. The third [main] type of course is asynchronous, self-paced, automated. That’s the kind of course you take when you start a new job and they have you go through training and you’ve got to watch all these videos, that is asynchronous and self-paced. It’s also the main type of course that is going to give entrepreneurs their time and freedom, because that is the only type of course where you don’t actually have to be present in order to serve your learners.
N: As far as the subject matter of courses, does is run the gamut, do you see any trends there as far as subjects that are more common or more in demand?
K: There are certain niches that are just going to get the riches. So, in our agency we’ve worked in over a hundred different niches, everything from horticulture, bee keeping, nail salons, it just runs that gamut. In terms of profitability, it’s not so much a matter of which one of those 106 niches are the most profitable, it really has to do with your willingness to talk about the fact that you know somethings that other people want to know.
In terms of the hierarchy of the niches, we know that the wealth niche is going to get the most attention in any situation. So, if you’re helping people to make money or save money, then you are in one of the most profitable niches out there. And if you can position your niche to help people make money or save money, then you’re definitely in the right place.
We have some people that are direct wealth niche people, they are coaches. We have some people who are indirect, wo what do I mean by that? That means that even if you are not directly helping people to make money, but you are helping them in the process and are in the supply chain of making money, then you can definitely profit from a course that supports their ability to generate wealth.
So, an example of that is copywriters. We work with a lot of copywriters who are teaching people to write great copy. Writing great copy in itself is not going to generate wealth, it’s a confluence of things that’s going to help do that, but copywriting is an important piece of that, so if you can be a part of the supply chain of wealth then you’re definitely in one of the most profitable niches, but there are lots. There’s also health and wellness, there’s personal development, there are hobbies- that’s another big one. So, lots of them are profitable.
N: How much time does it take to build a quality course?
K: It depends. Most people don’t come with a proven, ready-made course. If they already have a proven, ready-made course it means they probably don’t need us. Most people who come to us fall into three buckets: one is course content development for an online audience. They know their stuff, but they don’t know how to translate it into online course content. The second group of people that come to us are people who say “listen, I don’t want to deal with this tech monster”, they don’t want to try to automate it, figure out the landing page, how to connect payment, etc. And we just handle the tech for them. After the tech issue, it’s the marketing issue. It’s how am I going to sell this thing? How do I get it out there? What is a funnel and how do I build one? Those are the three primary things that delay the launch of most courses.
N: What kind of revenue can people expect to see when they create and release a course?
K: It depends on if they do it right or if they do it not right.
N: Let’s say for argument’s sake they do it right, what kind of revenue can they expect to see?
K: If they do it right from the start, they can be like my client Shea Cunningham, a personal stylist, who make $13K in her first 13 days of launching. They can be like Glendora Divine, a children’s counselor, she regularly has 5 figure launches in her business after working with us. Are these results not typical? No, they’re very typical, because they actually did it right.
So, what do I mean by doing it right? I mean that they had a system for selling it. They didn’t just throw a course together, put it on some third-party system, and think that automatically people were just going to find it and buy it.
N: What do you think entrepreneurs most need to know about courses that they don’t know when they come to you?
K: The course content dictates the length of the course. When entrepreneurs come to me, they’ve already got an idea in mind about how long they want the course to be. They want it to be 6 weeks, 9 weeks, 12 weeks, and so on. And I stop them right there because their course content itself may dictate something different. Sometimes they have WAY too much content and they’re going to overwhelm their learners, and if they’re trying to stuff it into 6-week course or a 12-week course, they’re going to have a lot of dissatisfied learners because they’re being asked to consume something that’s not realistic. OR it’s just the opposite, they don’t have enough content and they think it’s going to be 12 weeks’ worth of great content, but you’re going to bore your people to death and they’re going to say, “what did I pay for”?
That’s why we want to look at your course from a 360-degree vantage point. You want to look at your course from three different viewpoints: put yourself in the shoes of the learner first and think about what’s best for them. Second, in the shoes of the facilitator who is going to be teaching this course and decide what’s your best teaching style. Third, put yourself in the shoes of the business, separate yourself from the actual course itself and put yourself in the shoes of the business, and look at your business goals. And then we can see whether or not your course actually meets those business goals.
N: What are the signs of a good course? What do you look for in a course and how can you tell it has serious potential?
K: As an instructional designer, I have to look at it from that vantage point when I’m auditing courses. We’re looking at: does the subject matter actually meet the learning objectives. The promise of the course has to meet the objectives of the course and has to match the actual modules and lessons within the course.
The earmark of a great course: the promise of the course matches the objectives of the course, which matches the content of the course. That’s the first thing we’re going to look at. The next thing that are earmarks of a great course are courses that are engaging, you know? Courses that aren’t just rehashes of a book. A lot of authors think they can just take their chapters and speak it into a video, and that makes a module or a lesson or something like that. You want an engaging course that has activities and elements that are going to really engage the person through the screen, reinforces the learning, and gives them opportunities to practice what they’re actually being taught in a meaningful way and not just busy work.
N: What is the number one mistake people make when they try to do courses on their own without the help of a professional?
K: Well, I don’t know if it’s a mistake as much as it is going down rabbit holes that they’ll never quite get out of. For example, a lot of times people will try to script their course. Because they’re uncomfortable being on camera or talking about their topic, they’ll say “I’m just going to script it and read what I’m going to say in this lesson”. Well, people who know how to speak through a teleprompter usually have a lot of practice doing it. The average, everyday person typically does not and so it comes across as inauthentic, or it looks and sounds like you’re reading, and that is the best way to bore your learner to death.
Some people try to sell in the middle of an instructional course and that’s also a mistake. When someone has already purchased your course, they’ve already invested the $300 bucks or whatever you’re charging and then they get into your course and every lesson or every other lesson is about buying the next course, I see that sometimes and that’s definitely a mistake.
N: What’s the number one thing you’d say to entrepreneurs who’ve decided they want this extra revenue stream and they’re ready to create a course?
K: I would say get organized in your priorities in terms of what your learner wants to know and not just what you want to teach them. Step out of your shoes and step into their shoes, and if you don’t know what they want, then ask. Polls are great, surveys are great, sending out an email asking them what they want to know or what’s their highest priority would be great. Take the time to ask what your audience wants. That would be the first step.
Now is the time. You are the person. And your course is the thing that is going to change somebody’s life. People are looking beyond the checklist, the PDF, the infographic. They want something that is going to be transformative. That’s what’s going to make them get their wallet out and pull out their credit card, something that’s going to move their needle forward. Your course is what they’re looking for.
This is a more than 256 billion dollar a year industry and it’s only growing. It’s estimated to be around 350 billion dollars a year by 2024. Forbes Magazine says that 90% of all learning right now is informal, that means that people are looking for regular, everyday people to learn from. And that’s why this industry is the one to get into. Just do it. If you need help, get it, but don’t let somebody else teach the course that you’re supposed to be offering.