Newsletter #1

Deep Dive: My Process for Finding Course Ideas That Make $1+ Million

written by

Jon Morrow


Let me guess… you already have some ideas.

But building a course is a HUGE investment of time.

It’s only natural to wonder… will it be worth it?

That’s why, in our first newsletter, I’m going to give you my exact process for finding course ideas that can make $1 million or more.

You can use this if you want new ideas OR if you already have an idea and want to verify it.

By the time we’re done, you won’t wonder if your idea is a good one. You’ll know.

First though, let’s get this out of the way…

The Normal Process for Dreaming up Course Ideas DOESN’T Work

It starts as a spark. An idea. 

You get excited, because you feel like it might be an opportunity.

But how do you know?

Here’s the truth: if this is your process for coming up with course ideas, you might never know. 

Here’s why:

Because the idea is coming from inside your head with no validation from the real world, the only possible outcome is anxiety and procrastination.

When we’re unsure about something, our brains want to mull it over and dissect it from every angle. We analyze. And then analyze some more. Until we’re sure. 

But what if you don’t know what to analyze? What if you don’t know where to look?

Well then, you are stuck in a loop of creativity, anxiety, and procrastination that never ends.

Specifically, there are three sources of anxiety. Let’s go through each of them, and then in a moment, I will tell you how to solve them.

Uncertainty #1: “Why would anyone listen to me?”

You’re scrolling through social media, and bam! Another self-proclaimed guru pops up. They have more experience or better credentials or a bigger audience.

Thoughts whirl in your head: “There are so many experts out there. How can I match up?” And so you never start.

Uncertainty #2: “I don’t have an audience. Who’s going to buy this?”

Yes, you understand the basics of how to create a course, but how are you supposed to start absolutely from scratch? Don’t you need to build an audience first?

And so then you go down the rabbit hole of all the different traffic strategies. YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook ads, blogging. It’s overwhelming…

And so again, you never start.

Uncertainty #3: “How do I make a sale without sounding like I’m selling snake oil?”

Selling. Even the word can seem daunting. “Will they think I’m pushy?” “What if they think it’s all just a money grab?” 

We worry about what our friends and family and professional connections will think. We worry about embarrassing ourselves and not even having enough course sales to make it worth it.

The Solution Is NOT More Self-Discipline

When I first dipped my toes into course creation, I procrastinated just as much as anyone. I thought I needed to be more self-disciplined, just launch it and see what happens…

But that wasn’t the real issue.

The truth is, uncertainty is paralyzing for EVERYONE. You’ll find it impossible to push forward until you resolve it.

My Process for Finding Course Ideas That Make $1+ Million

This is the exact process I follow.

1. Find the Influencers

Why This Matters:

In any field, there are people who set the trend, the ones whose words resonate and whose actions are emulated. They’ve cracked the code on engaging with the audience.

By identifying these key players, you’re not copying them, but rather understanding the landscape.

How to Go About It:

  • Sparktoro: This tool allows you to identify key figures in your niche. Input relevant keywords, and voilà, you get a list of influential personas.
  • Recommended Accounts: If you go to the profile of your favorite influencer either Instagram or Twitter, they will recommend similar accounts. It happens automatically on Twitter. On Instagram, you’ll need to click the person icon.
  • This is the best site I have found for finding influencers on Linkedin. They have different categories, but you can view a big list here.

Action Steps:

  • Make a list of the top 10 influencers in your field.
  • Regularly engage with their content to understand audience preferences and reactions.

2. Identify the Advertisers

Why This Matters:

Advertisers invest heavily in market research. They wouldn’t spend a dime unless they knew there was potential ROI. By observing them, you’re indirectly accessing this research.

How to Go About It:

  • Facebook Ad Library: A treasure trove of active ads. Search by brand or niche and see the advertisements they’re running, along with engagement stats.
  • YouTube: Watch videos related to your niche without an ad-blocker. Take note of the ads before and during these videos. What are they promoting? How?

Action Steps:

  • Keep a weekly log of the most frequent advertisements you encounter. Over time, you’ll discern patterns in strategies and messaging.

3. Play Secret Shopper

Why This Matters:

By purchasing some of the products of your competitors, you experience the customer journey firsthand. You’ll see what they sell and how they sell it.

How to Go About It:

  • Join Email Lists: Get a feel for their communication style, frequency, and content.
  • Screenshots: Capture sales pages, special offers, or any innovative tactics they employ. These screenshots serve as inspiration and benchmarks.
  • Purchase a Few Products: Nothing beats firsthand experience. What’s the purchase process like? How about the post-purchase communication?

Action Steps:

  • Maintain a folder with your findings. Over time, this will be a goldmine of information about market practices and gaps.

4. Ears Open: Listen to Interviews

Why This Matters:

People often divulge more in conversations. Interviews can provide insights into their strategies, thought processes, challenges, and more.

How to Go About It:

  • YouTube: Search for the influencer’s name. Prioritize interviews as these often yield nuggets of wisdom and behind-the-scenes insights.
  • A podcast search engine. Podcasts are intimate and often involve in-depth discussions on subjects.

Action Steps:

  • Dedicate some time each week to listen to at least one interview. Take notes, especially on points that resonate or offer a new perspective.

Remember, the goal of these steps isn’t to emulate or copy. It’s to absorb, understand, and increase your certainty about what works and what doesn’t.

5. The Golden Question

Why This Matters:

Now that you have a thorough understanding of the landscape, think about the strengths and weaknesses of each brand and ask this golden question: what can you do better?

How to Go About It:

In the beginning, the answer is often related to the course itself. Many course creators are good at marketing but laughably bad at teaching. Their courses are poorly organized, have no homework assignments, have no onboarding sequence, and really provide no more value than watching a few detailed YouTube videos.

You can change this. And then when you learn the marketing side, you’ll become unstoppable.

Action Steps:

  • Go through competing courses and make note of where they are poorly organized, incomplete, or theoretical instead of actionable
  • Ask yourself… if this was your course, how could you fix those problems?

6. The Maiden Voyage: Your Initial Launch

Why This Matters:

Many beginning course creators try to swing for the fences and make a bunch of money from their initial launch. In my opinion, this is a huge mistake.

For the initial launch, you are far better off getting feedback and testimonials.

How to Go About It:

Pilot Phase: Instead of a full-scale launch, consider a pilot version. Limit the seats and charge a fair price but offer to refund it when they complete the class and give you their honest feedback.

Example: you are going to teach a four-week class on Pilates for $200. Offer it to your friends and family for only $100 and give them a refund after they give you feedback at the end of four weeks. Ideally, record them on video for use in your marketing.

Action Steps:

  • Design a concise version of your course for the pilot phase.
  • Give an amazing deal to your friends and family
  • Refund them and collect testimonials for future launches

7. Building Your Tribe: Audience Creation

Why This Matters:

An engaged audience is the lifeline of any course creator. But it’s not about the numbers; it’s about the quality and engagement level of your community.

How to Go About It:

I recommend starting with an email newsletter like this one. Do it once per week and give away lots of value.

From there, follow the traffic strategy that seems to be working well in your market. Typically it’s either publishing on social media or running ads. After all of the steps above, you should know.

Either way, funnel people into your newsletter. The more it grows, the more money you will make.

Action Steps:

  • Set up your newsletter with a tool like Substack or ConvertKit
  • As you grow your audience, relaunch your course every other month to bring in additional sales.

… And Now the Uncertainty Is Gone

Let’s step back for a moment and evaluate how far we have come.

When you opened this newsletter, you were probably procrastinating because of all the certainty we have talked about. Now, you have a series of action steps you can follow to understand exactly what’s going on in your market and completely remove the uncertainty.

You’ll know how people are getting traffic. You will know what’s selling. You’ll also know what you can do better.

And guess what will happen?

You’ll stop procrastinating. You’ll move forward because you know exactly what to do and why it will work.

Problem solved.

The Best Links:

Your Next Steps:

Once you’ve done all this research, it will actually be a wise investment to pay someone to look over everything for you. If you’d like to do that, book a consulting call here.

Otherwise, I have a favor to ask:

If you got value from this, and you know anyone who is interested in starting an online course, please let them know about it by using the “share” buttons to the right (if you’re on desktop) or below (if you’re on mobile).

The more referrals we get, the more awesome content we can publish.

Until next time,

Jon Morrow
Founder & CEO