Like many website designers, I have a negative opinion about website sliders. At least half of my web design clients come to me with detailed ideas about all the slides they want on their homepage, and most of the time, I can talk them out of it. It’s not that sliders are hard to create; any web designer knows how to add a slider in a WordPress homepage.
The problem is that on your website homepage, sliders are just a bad idea.
Here are 9 reasons homepage sliders suck:
1. Website sliders slow down your website.
A website slider is a hefty piece of code. Unlike a text box with an image, a slider is a fancy section that can replace its own content with an animated transition. That transition takes some time to load, and your browser has to do it.
Each slide is a big image, and that takes some time to load, too. In a typical slider, the browser has to load multiple images, animated transitions, and the controls for navigating the slider – all above the fold.
2. A slider above the fold is not a lazy load.
‘Above the fold’ is a newspaper term, defining the content that is above the fold bisecting the first page of the newspaper. This is where you put your most important content, because it is the first thing that someone sees when they are deciding if they want to read further.
On a website, ‘above the fold’ content is what is in the browser window, without scrolling, when the page first loads. Ideally, this should be your fastest content, because you want to give your user something to see right away.
Many websites use ‘lazy load,’ or asynchronous loading, so they do not download (or display) images from further down the page until the user scrolls to that section. This is good for website usability, because if you have to wait for the entire long web page to download before you read what is on the top, you are sitting and twiddling your thumbs, waiting for the entire page to be delivered to your browser, instead of reading the top and waiting for the bottom at the same time. Sliders that are at the top of the homepage (above the fold) have to load first, and your user has to wait as soon as they arrive.
Pro tip: Put your website URL in GTmetrix.com to measure how fast your website loads, and see how big it is. You should aim for under 1MB and 5 seconds.
3. Your first page load looks bad.
At this point (maybe now is good) you may be heading over to your website in a new tab to take a look at your own website slider, to see if it’s doing some of the things I’ve mentioned. Keep in mind, you have seen your website slider before. This means that that your slider images are cached.
Your browser has already downloaded the big images in your slider before, and your browser, helpful servant that it is, has stored those images in the browser cache. This is great for you, as the user, because it means you don’t have to re-download the images every time you visit your website.
But that’s just you.
New visitors to your website will have to load your slider images from scratch, because they have never downloaded these images before. What they see may be different than what you see.
Pro tip: Clear your browser’s cache, and visit your website homepage. How long does it take the slider to load?
“Every second it takes to load a page past two seconds hurts the user experience, and has an impact on search performance.” – Harrison Jones
4. Slider images are big and take time to load.
Your slider images should be big, anyway. If you’re using a 300px wide image in a full-width slider, it’s going to be pixellated and look really fuzzy.
While I do love the look of full-width images in web browsers, they need to be optimised for the web. If your image is 1.4MB, you are already way beyond the recommended 1MB threshold for total page size that you want to aim for, with just one image.
Using a tool like optimizilla.com, you can easily and quickly optimize your images, reducing their filesize dramatically. As a practice, I always run my images through optimizilla before uploading them to the WordPress media library. Watch me do it here:
Pro tip: Replace some of your biggest homepage images by running them through optimizilla. This free tool reduces the filesize of your image without sacrificing quality. Re-run GTMetrix after this, and you can measure precisely how much your images have been slowing your sitespeed down.
5. Website sliders are vulnerable to hackers.
The popular Revolution Slider, which has some amazing animation features, is often a target for hackers, precisely because it is so popular. Unlike the WordPress core, this slider plugin is not nearly as secure, and not updated as frequently.
This makes it a tempting target for hackers, because if they can exploit a vulnerability in a popular slider plugin, they can gain access to many websites quickly, before a repair patch is issued and installed.
Pro tip: Install the free WordFence plugin to check your site for malware and clean up after attacks.
6. Website visitors scroll down for more information, they do not wait for a slideshow.
How often do you land on a new homepage, and wait for the pretty slideshow to finish its carousel?
Do you find yourself hovering over the navigation dropdowns, obscuring the slideshow?
Or do you scroll down to search for information, ignoring the slides entirely?
“The primary purpose of your home page should be to create a high-level map of the world for your visitors so they can understand the range of available products that you carry. The giant banner will take up all of the prime real estate on the home page and push this navigation off the visible top of the page – sabotaging the page’s primary purpose.” – Tim Ash
7. Multiple Slider CTAs split the user’s attention
One of the golden rules of landing pages is: give the user one option.
If you are sending a user to a landing page, through paid traffic (like a Facebook ad), you want this new user to do one thing, and only one thing. That is your Call-to-Action. Distracting them with other options (like your navigation bar or footer menu) will decrease conversions. In most cases, your homepage is not a landing page, but the same principle still holds true:
If you give your user too many options, they will select none of them.
On your homepage, you’ve already got your entire navigation menu, maybe a sidebar, and (hopefully) a Call-to-Action to subscribe to your newsletter.
If you distribute some of these CTAs through your slider buttons, you are diluting the effectiveness of ALL of your Calls-to-Action. According to KissMetrics, “of users’ first three eye-fixations on a page, only about 22% are on graphics; 78% are on text (headlines, article summaries, captions). In fact, people often ignore images entirely until the second or third visit to a page. So taking up the majority of your page’s real estate with images is ass-backwards.”
8. Information in sliders looks better in columns.
Most times, if you are expressing separate ideas in separate slides, they would be easier for the user to view all at once, in columns. Take a look at these two options below, and ask yourself which is more effective for you, as a user:
Here is a Slider:
Here is the same information, in columns:
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Which do you like better, when you are scrolling down a webpage? I’m guessing the columns were easier for you to scan and digest.
If you don’t have a website theme that makes columns super easy, then consider a simple Hero Image. As the Altos Agency suggests, “A well-executed hero image serves as the very first glimpse of your site most visitors encounter, and should combine everything from your unique personality to a laser-focused look at just what you offer and why users might want to learn more. Pair that with a powerful CTA and you’ve got a static header image that actually attracts more clicks than any slider.”
9. Sliders are not that important.
If there was really something you wanted your user to see, as soon as they land on your homepage, you would show them that one thing. (Identifying that one thing is extremely difficult – that’s why it’s so important to work on your Customer Avatars.)
As Michiel Hiejman says on Yoast, “What you’re saying with a slider is basically: ‘I really don’t know which product or picture I should put on display on my homepage, so I’ll just grab 10 of them!’ In that case, you really need to add focus. If you don’t know what to choose, how would your visitors or clients?”
With every lukewarm offering you have sprayed across your slider, your website visitor gets more distracted.
“Unless the image slider is the only thing on your website (bad idea!), it’s not a good thing. It means it takes away attention from everything else – the stuff that actually matters. Like your value proposition. Products. Content.”
– Peep Laja
Do we need to talk about your homepage?
If you have a website slider that is dragging down your sitespeed, I can design a multi-column section that conveys all the same visual and text information as your slider, but loads your website much faster.
We can have a complimentary 30-minute consultation, and I can answer any questions you have about your website or digital marketing. Schedule a time here.
Or, I can provide you with a free 10 minute video review of your homepage. Sign up here.
About The Author
Caelan Huntress is the father of 3 kids, and in his spare time serves as creative director of Stellar Platforms. He is also a writer, digital marketer, multimedia producer, and a retired superhero. He blogs about his adventures on https://caelanhuntress.com.
I built the wrong platform for myself, and that’s how this all started.
After years of working with successful authors and coaches, improving or creating their digital infrastructure, it gave me the opportunity to examine how a thought leader builds a successful business on their teachings.
There were a number of similarities. (I call them Cornerstones.) Once I identified what these similarities were, and how the most successful platforms worked, I resolved to make a platform for myself.
I made the wrong platform.
My intentions were noble, at least. I did some really deep soul searching, and I asked myself: how could I have the most positive impact on the world? Not just today, or in ten years, but in a hundred years – how could my work provide the most positive benefit to humanity, one century from now?
I settled on fatherhood.
If I could help men become better fathers, then they would raise better children. Better kids grow up to become better people, and better people make a better world. This was the area I identified as having the maximum impact for my life’s work, so I built a platform around it.
I made a logo, and a brand, and a website for BeTheBetterDad.com. I started blogging about the habits that make me a better father, and I made a free online course, the 5-Day Father Fitness Program. That gave me some customers, which meant I could ask them about the problems they face, and structure my offerings around solving those problems. I made Customer Avatars, and discovered, to my surprise, that I was in no way qualified to help this audience.
The problems that modern dads are facing – divorce, depression, having kids living in separate households – I wasn’t equipped to help them with that. I’ve got no experience with divorce, and I’m not a therapist or a relationship coach – I’m a guy who has a good handle on his habits, and I tried to share some of those.
But what this audience actually needed was not something I could provide.
So I went back to the drawing board. I asked myself, “What am I uniquely good at doing?”
I looked over the entire infrastructure that I created for Father Fitness, and I thought, “I can do that. I can make a platform.”
Stellar Platforms was created so that I can help people with what I do best: create the branding and automation infrastructure that financially supports a thought leader as they grow their audience.
The Four Cornerstones
Like many polymaths, I’m not an expert in any one thing, but I have a modest level of mastery in some very different things. It turns out this variety of skills is especially useful for the 4 Cornerstones of a Stellar Platform.
- My theatrical training gave me an artistic flair in creating characters, which I use when making Customer Avatars.
- My sales training has given me the psychological understanding of why people buy, which I use to make Sales Funnels.
- My time as a writer gave me the ability to produce and disseminate ideas clearly, which is a core component of Content Marketing.
- My freelance web design business taught me how to integrate complicated platforms together, which is essential for eCommerce.
I never thought these separate areas of my interests would combine anywhere. I only pursued the interests that appealed to me most at the time. Now I have the opportunity to use each of these areas of mastery as a Cornerstone to my own Stellar Platform. That’s why I started this business.
Stellar Platforms are for Rising Stars.
The kinds of people who need these four Cornerstones are the thought leaders and authors who have a message, and have an audience, but they don’t yet have a platform to enable them to make a living by simply spreading their message.
If you are one of the Illuminators of Tomorrow, let’s work together.
Would you like to fix a few things on your website before the summer ends? We can do that in an August Afternoon.
As you may know, I’m moving to New Zealand. While this transition takes place, I’m on a mission to clean up loose ends in my life and business. I want to help you do the same. If you’ve been embarrassed to send people to your website, or you’ve been avoiding getting needed help with technological issues, let’s get through these unfinished tasks together.
Our afternoon-long strategy and production session could include:
- Strategic coaching about your business, brand, or website
- Website troubleshooting and research
- Specific copywriting work on a piece of content
- Revision of your homepage or website copy
- Review of your website and media properties
- Suggestions for how to increase your sales
- Competitive research and analysis
- Project scoping for other contractors to carry out
- Brainstorming ideas for a new email autoresponder sequence, followed by an hour of copywriting, followed by review and revision
Normally my rate for working on digital strategy, website design, and content marketing is $150 an hour.
However, for the month of August, I’m offering a 33% discount off my normal rates for these strategy sessions.
For $300, you can have me all to yourself on an August afternoon.
- Is your website running slow?
- Does your about page need to be rewritten?
- Is a WordPress plugin giving you trouble?
- Do you have an idea for a new product to launch?
- Is there a lead magnet that’s 75% done, and you’re ready to finally make it happen?
Book your 3-hour strategy session today. Once all these spots are gone, getting my time at this rate won’t be available again.
(Unless I decide to move again to another hemisphere – we’ll see.)
I’d love to work with you during an August Afternoon.
Book your time here.
August Afternoons FAQ
If you’re in New Zealand, Caelan, will it really be a summery August Afternoon for you?
No, it won’t, not at all. If you are in the Pacific time zone (like 65% of the subscribers on this list) then New Zealand is 19 hours ahead. Wait, don’t do the math – trust me, it breaks your brain – because New Zealand is functionally five hours behind Pacific Time, but a day ahead. Still, don’t do the math – save your brain. Or use this converter.
I’ll be staying on Pacific time for my first few months in New Zealand, waking at 3am local time. The earliest starting time for August Afternoons(1pm Pacific) will be 8am my time.
So no, it may not be an afternoon for me, depending on where you are in the world. It also won’t be summer, it’s been snowing in Wellington.
My website has a lot of issues, can we fix all of them in three hours?
Maybe not all of them – but I can make a big dent. Many website issues can be solved quickly, and if you bring a list of improvements you would like to make, I will go through as many as I can in three hours.
For any issues I cannot fix during our August Afternoon, I will provide resources, tutorials, recommendations, and next steps – so even if it’s not fixed, you have a plan of action.
I want to improve my organic search rankings. Can you help me with that?
In 3 hours I can run a comprehensive set of reports on your website, detailing how you rank for relevant keywords. I can also perform competitive analysis, to discover what your competitors are ranking for, and offer specific suggestions on how to improve your own ranking for those keywords, as well.
I can also dramatically improve your sitespeed, which has become one of the largest factors Google uses in determining search rankings. By analyzing your site I can find the largest bandwidth hogs, and create a plan of steps for improving these specific issues. Some of those issues, I can fix right on our call.
Unless you have a very small website, then no, I cannot redesign it all in 3 hours. But I can rewrite a few of the important pages (like your homepage or your About page), rewrite your calls-to-action, or design a new version of your website in a sandbox.
Website redesigns need multiple revisions anyways, and you can get at least one out of an August Afternoon.
Can you plan my upcoming project, so that I can delegate it to my team?
Absolutely. Project planning is one of my specialties. Collecting all the different pieces of a project together, and identifying all the next steps (with lots of checklists!) will jumpstart that project that’s been languishing at the back of your mind.
How much time and money do I need to invest?
In addition to being present during our 3-hour strategy session, I will need you to describe your project to me in advance via email. I will review your materials before our call so I can come prepared with questions and ideas; your advance briefing will help me to be more effective for you during this project.
$300 will reserve 3 consecutive hours of my time. See availability here.
Can I purchase one of these sessions from you and use it after August?
The 3-hour strategy session is a discount off of my normal hourly rate of $150, and it is only available for the limited period of this promotion. Hiring me after August will only be in accordance with my standard terms, with a minimum purchase of a 5-hour block of time for $750. If your schedule does not open up until September, I’d be happy to work with you at that time under my normal terms.
What is the format of our meeting?
Ten minutes before our call, I will send you a short, funny, inspirational video to get your juices flowing. Then, we will each have an optional 1-minute solo dance party.
At the precise time of our appointment, I will call you via Skype, Slack, or phone, and we will bring up the agenda that I have sent you in advance.
Together, we will edit the agenda for our call for a couple of minutes, and then dive right in.
The format of our session is dictated by the needs of your project. We might talk for twenty minutes, and then break while I get into your servers and making improvements to your website. Or, we could be collaborating on a Google doc together, fixing your website copy and editing ideas together. We could keep the call going the whole time, call each other back and forth every thirty minutes, or talk once at the beginning and once at the end.
You’ll have your very own in-house outsourced marketing consultant for three hours; we can format this session whatever way we think is best.
I know my website needs work, but I don’t know exactly what it needs. How can we work together if I don’t know what I need?
I can help you figure it out. We’ll start by looking over your website together, and I’ll ask you a bunch of questions. Based on your answers, and what I see on your website, I will make recommendations for how to best meet your goals in the time we have. I will also provide you with a detailed plan for improving your website and platform after our meeting, which you can execute with any digital marketer.
“Caelan has a great way of taking your vision and making it a reality. He works really well with visionaries – I speak it, and he makes it happen! His website design for The Aware Show really captured my personality, and his project management skills kept my entire team on track. The beautiful summits he put together helped us to grow our list and expand our audience. Caelan is always positive and keeps a positive outlook on life!”
– Lisa Garr
I don’t have a website, just an idea. Can we work on my idea?
Brainstorming an idea is one of my all-time favorite things to do. As a coach and strategist, I can help you hone your idea and turn it into an actionable project.
I need a sales funnel for one of my products, can you make that in three hours?
While sales funnels are one of my specialties, they typically take me more than three hours to make. However, we can work through the Sales Funnel Workbook together. This way, we could identify what assets you already have that we could use in your Sales Funnel, and build (or outline) a few of the other pieces.
My email newsletter subscription isn’t working, can you fix it?
This is a perfect project for an August Afternoon. If you need to get one platform to pass data to another, and customize what users see at different steps, all I need are some logins and an idea of what you want, and I can fix it quickly.
Ready to go?
Book your 3-hour strategy session today.
To sell more of your product, reach a bigger audience, and grow your list, the single most effective thing you can learn is how to make a Customer Avatar. Having a good Customer Avatar will give you a near-superhuman ability to communicate powerfully with the people who are most likely to become your customers.
Note: A Customer Avatar is also often called an Ideal Client Profile, or a Buyer Persona. In this article I will use the term ‘Customer Avatar’ because it sounds much cooler.
Let’s face it: not every customer is right for your business. Your message can resonate really well with some types of people, but not with all of them.
Having a Customer Avatar allows you to identify the specific characteristics of people who like to buy what you’re selling. You can make your own Customer Avatars by following these 5 simple steps:
Customer Avatar Step 1
Find a template
A Customer Avatar Template is a document with blank spaces for you to fill in the defining characteristics of your ideal client. These templates are very useful, and I recommend you try a few different ones. You might end up liking one, but then find that another has better questions, or a better layout.
Here are three places to find Customer Avatar Templates:
If you use iWork’s Pages, you can use our own template for making Customer Avatars here:
Customer Avatar Step 2
Prepare your questions
There are lots (and lots) of questions you can ask while building your Customer Avatar. Read through the links above, and you’ll find dozens to choose from. (Be sure and use the “But no one else would” trick in the Digital Marketer post.)
We recommend you read through the templates and articles above, and collect a list of questions that you will ask about each one of Customer Avatars.
Some of them will be redundant, and that’s okay. Asking the same questions over and over forces your brain to dig deeper, to look past superficial answers, and discover something new. Something clear. Something definitive. That’s what you’re looking for with these questions, is tiny little characteristics that define this type of person.
Developing that list of questions will make you think how to get into your customers’ minds, and that’s a useful exercise. Don’t skip it. If you’d like to see the questions we use with our clients, try using these forms:
Customer Avatar Creation
Make Your Own Customer Avatar
Customer Avatar Step 3
Set the space to work
What you are planning to do is some of the most fundamental, introspective work you will undertake this year. This work could have dramatic positive results for your business. So, don’t throw it together on your lunch hour. Set the space. Decide for yourself:
- Where will you physically do this work? At your normal desk, or somewhere else?
- What time of day is best for you to do it?
- What kind of music, beverages, and/or snacks do you want to have available?
- Would it be better to do this alone, or with a partner?
- Will you print the templates, and fill them out by hand? Or type your answers into a computer?
- What day will you do this work?
Answer these questions thoughtfully. That’s what this exercise is, after all – it’s a series of questions answered thoughtfully. Start off right by asking yourself how to best set yourself up for success.
Customer Avatar Step 4
Answer the questions
You’re at the appointed time and place. You have all of your materials. The rest of the world is put on pause for an hour or more. Do the work.
While you are here, think of your best customers. Think of who they are, why they came to you, and in a hazy, non-distinct way, think about the type of person that person is like. Think about someone famous that you would love to work with. Don’t define these people in your work, define the group to which these people belong.
Customer Avatar Step 5
Edit and review with friends
Your first draft of your Customer Avatars are just that – your first draft. Show them to colleagues, friends, and even competitors, and ask them for feedback. You will likely have a few surprising responses that make you say, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!” This feedback is just as important as the work you put into it, and you can see dramatically positive results in your business if you are open to receiving feedback from others.
Revise your Customer Avatars regularly. As you grow with your business, you will learn more about the people you serve. Incorporate that knowledge into these foundational documents, and your business will continue to improve.
Who else can give you feedback on your Customer Avatars?
We can! Schedule a free, no-obligation 30-minute consultation with us, and we will be happy to give you feedback on your Customer Avatars.
A professional WordPress website design provides three major advantages to your digital platform:
WordPress Website Design Advantage #1:
Updating your WordPress Website is easy.
Getting an update to your website doesn’t have to involve lengthy (and expensive) back-and-forth discussions with the one designer who knows how to change the website without breaking it. If you need to change a photo or some text, you can log in to the back end of your website yourself, point and click, and it’s done.
WordPress Website Design Advantage #2:
People know WordPress websites.
Web designers the world over understand WordPress – at last count, this open-source platform powers 25% of websites worldwide, and no competent web developer nowadays can look at a WordPress site and get lost. Whoever handles updates to your site in the future, it will be in a common language that anyone with IT skills can understand.
WordPress Website Design Advantage #3:
Your software license will never expire for a WordPress website.
The building blocks of your website will never be recalled, and customer support will never disappear. Too many people speak this language. When we build a website in WordPress, we are standing on the shoulders of the immense programming community that uses and loves this platform. We can start out with a quick, easy method of creating a cutting edge website, because the plugins and themes developed by other programmers are available for our use.
Your website is your digital storefront.
The virtual territory that you have claimed and made your own, crafted according to your aesthetics and tastes, a place where you can receive your friends, your audience, and your customers.
Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. – Steve Jobs
New website visitors make instant decisions about the character of your business and your brand, based on the first few seconds on your homepage.
Returning customers will sift through your pages, and their experience will leave them feeling one of two ways – better or worse. A good web design can sway that decision.
Working with a professional web designer can make a lasting impression on the people who visit your website. Your website is your soapbox, where you can showcase your expertise and establish your authority in your industry.
A professional website design improves the image of your company, engages your audience with your message, and can help to increase customer inquiries and boost revenue.
3 Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Website
Website design is more than just the “look and feel” of the site. Like Steve Jobs said, design is ‘how it works.’ So, how does your website work?
- How does your website encourage the flow of visitors from one step to the next?
- What is the ultimate conversion goal for each website viewer?
- What action do you want your new website visitors to do?
Your website is the foundation of your online marketing strategy, which is why it is essential to work with someone who understands the psychology of web design.
Are you thinking about making or redesigning a website?
Click here, and let's talk about it.
Let’s talk a bit about what a new website design can do for your future.
Answer these questions thoughtfully, and it will assist me in translating your vision into a happy website visit.
I want to know more than just what your new site will look like; I also want to understand what the new website will do for your business.
“I’ve had many sites built over the past 10 years. This was, hands down, the best experience in regards to efficiency, design, and back-end mechanics. Caelan is easy to talk to, patient, knows what he’s doing and can execute in a timely manner. It was a pleasure.”
A Responsive Website Design changes the layout and sizing of your website elements, based on the size of the screen upon which it is viewed.
In the old days, websites had a defined width, and sometimes a defined height. If your screen resolution did not match those exact numbers, you would have to scroll left-to-right to see the entire website.
Users are used to scrolling up and down, to see the parts of web pages that are ‘below the fold,’ but scrolling left-to-right provides some real usability problems. Now that devices are built with resolutions as wide as 2560 pixels, and as small as 300 pixels, having a defined website width creates a bad browsing experience for most people – unless the website is responsive.
Responsive websites are often 100% width, meaning that they take the full width of the browser, wide or narrow.
To see Responsive Website Design in action:
Responsive Website Design Example On a Desktop:
- Bring the cursor of your mouse over to the right hand side of your browser window.
- Click and drag the side of the browser window to the left
- Notice how the columns below shift their size and appearance
You can even set some elements to only show at certain browser widths, meaning: you can have elements that show only for tablets, only for desktop, or only on mobile.
Responsive Website Design Example On a Tablet or Mobile Device:
- Turn your device 90˚ to one side.
- Notice how these elements change their position? That is responsiveness.
“If you are willing to do only what’s easy, life will be hard, but if you are willing to do what’s hard, life will be easy.”
– T.Harv Eker
“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away. ” – Chuang Tzu
Responsive website design is essential for SEO
Responsive website design makes it easier for customers to connect with your brand on a device they use all day long: their mobile phone.
Making the effort to build a beautiful website won’t matter, if the website can only be easily viewed on one type of device. Your website needs to look good on desktop, tablet, and mobile.
Many people search the internet on their mobile phone or on a tablet, and older web designs don’t look good on those little screens.
Responsive web design shifts the elements of your website depending on the size of the browser that is viewing it, so it looks good on every device.
Mobile friendly websites are more likely to show up in local search results, and good local search rankings give you the opportunity to connect with more customers in your area.
“Throughout the entire process of updating and re-designing our website, I was thoroughly impressed with Caelan’s work. He was consistently available once weekly for a phone conference to discuss ideas and progress, and was always available to field any questions I had. He also offered a lot of creative suggestions for the website design, and coaching and guidance for future ideas I have for our business growth, as it relates to our website. His willingness to offer further training to myself and my assistant for continued content updates to out site was a very nice bonus. Ultimately we are very pleased with his work and excited about the new website.”
Joshua Phillips, ND
The advantages of a WordPress CMS are huge – you can easily upload new content, categorize it in your page structure, and organize pages and posts via tags. For premium content delivery, you can protect your best content from the general public by creating a membership site with WordPress. Membership websites create a members-only section of your website, where only your customers and registered users can read, watch, and download your best content.
Membership Website WordPress Overview
If you have a WordPress website, you know how to login to /wp-admin – you enter your username and password, and gain access to the back-end of the website.
There are many different permissions levels in WordPress. The 4 standard levels are:
Each of these permissions levels gains access to different levels of functionality within your website. Admins can do anything and everything, including creating new users, changing core theme files, and more. Editors can publish content to make it live on the website, while Authors can create content, but cannot publish their changes.
You can use the Subscriber level to protect your premium content, or create another level for ‘Customer’ or ‘October Mastermind’ or ‘Community Member,’ and assign access to specific pieces of content in your website based on the user’s permission level.
What this means: You can designate any WordPress post or page as ‘private,’ meaning it is only accessible to logged-in users. You can designate which user levels can access certain pages, meaning that if you have a different user level for every product in your library, you just need to assign a specific user level to an account after a product is purchased in order to unlock access to that content.
How To Build Membership Websites
The easiest way to create membership websites is to download a membership plugin. Here are three good ones:
- Paid Membership Pro
- WooCommerce Memberships
These out-of-the-box solutions allow users to register and gain access to select areas of your website, but they do not integrate with your shopping cart right away. It takes some work to get a specific membership level to co-ordinate with a specific product purchase, and getting the plugin to automatically generate a username and password, that already has the right login level, is the tricky part of the automation.
Easy Membership Website Trick
Do you have some premium content you would like to protect?
There is an easy way to make membership websites, baked into the WordPress CMS itself. It won’t create logins for users, but it will protect your content with a password.
Publish your premium content on your WordPress website as a standalone page. When you publish it, under Visibility don’t select Public (the default) or Private, select ‘Password Protected.’ Enter the password that users need to enter to access your content.
Now, if you want to deliver some premium content to your email newsletter subscribers, for example, you can send them the link and the password. It won’t be available to everyone on the internet, but only to those with the password.
Here at Stellar Platforms, where we work with the Rising Stars of Tomorrow, we like to make things look beautiful with professional graphic design.
You can tell at a glance when someone has professional graphic design, and when they don’t. It can attract or repel you from a brand, with a glance.
Cohesive graphic design is essential when you have multiple media channels, and many different ways to present your media online. Aligning all of your brand assets with a curated branding styleguide is one of the best practices we recommend.
Professional Graphic Design & Logo design
The most powerful visual representation of your brand is your logo. Your logo is everything you do and everything you are, all distilled down into one symbol.
Getting the logo right can make the difference between a long-term business and a short-lived one.
Multiple logos under the same branding umbrella require special considerations, and placing this logo in the right locations – on your shareable media, in watermarks, and in your premium content – takes finesse.
Our logo design process is a 3-revision cycle. After filling out our intake form, we provide 3 possible directions for the logo to go – 3 distinct logo comps. After describing what you like and dislike with each of these, we will select one direction and go through 2 subsequent rounds of revision.
All logos are delivered in standard filetypes, with a complete branding styleguide.
Social media shareable image design
The most effective way to elevate your brand presence on social media is to create custom designed shareable images.
We can select 30 of your favorite quotes, or quotes relevant to your brand or mission, and make uniquely designed images formatted for the sizes of the platforms they will be shared upon.
With your logo and website discreetly (but visibly) placed on the image, it will be clear to all who share these quotes who is thinking about these thoughts.
Facebook Ad, Google Ad, & Affiliate Ad design
When you have a product launch to promote, or a sales funnel to fill, a standard suite of advertising images can get you started in an Adwords campaign. Our advertising images are customized to create impact, get seen, and get clicked. We use the finest stock photography libraries and professional copywriting to create compelling advertising images that get clicked.
Print collateral – brochures, book layout, postcards
We have access to the best graphic design programs on the market – Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. We can make your files printer-ready, with all the right bleeds at 300 dpi.
“Caelan is one of a kind. He has an amazingly active mind and is always putting it to good use. I hired him for a project that had a fairly ridiculous deadline, and he came through like a champ! We had one creative meeting where I explained what I was after, and he had mock ups ready to go within a day or so. The end result was better than I had expected, and we came in exactly on budget.”
Professional image editing
can save you hours of time figuring out new graphic design programs.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need:
- The background removed from your headshot
- A compelling graphic for a Facebook Ad campaign
- An eye-catching header for your homepage banner
- A cover designed for your ebook or self-published book
- A suite of images to share over social media for a few months
Contact us for a customized proposal detailing how we can save you time and energy by producing these images for you.
Professional Image Editing Advantages
- You provide the idea, we create the work
- You provide feedback over email at your convenience, we revise within 48 hours
- Brand cohesion across multiple types of media
- Permanent digital assets that promote your message and your brand
- Higher clickthrough conversion on advertisement graphics
How to Make a Social Media Image
The best program for professionals to use for image editing are in the Adobe suite of products: depending on the specific details, Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign may be best suited for the project.
For amateur use, the best browser-based program for image editing is Canva. It is easy to use, very high quality, and they have pre-formatted templates for every social media platform. If you want to make a Twitter image, click on the Twitter image and your canvas will be formatted with the right height and width dimensions.
Select a great background image (Canva has plenty to choose from), pick a text layout, and you’re done.
What makes Canva exceptional is the upload process. You can upload your own images (including logos) and drag and drop them anywhere you want on the image. With Google Font integration, you have a lot of flexibility in how you want your image to look.
Drop a URL on the bottom of your image, and it will travel as far and widely as your image is shared.
Social Media Image Examples
“Caelan is very resourceful. Not only does he offer great services but goes beyond the services he offers to help others have success or build connections. Caelan is fun, energetic and knowledgeable. I recommend Caelan as a friend, business partner and the services he provides.”
Video production creates a quick, digestible overview of an idea. Video marketing allows you to share your message on the platforms where your customer is already connected.
A high-quality branded video will provide a professional image for your company, and establish you as an authority in your industry.
Videography is one of the most powerful mediums to create an engagement with your audience. While it is now amazing, that you can record a live video from your phone and distribute it to the world on YouTube, for professional brands, videos require a bit of polish. A simple video editing workflow can elevate your videos from amateur to professional.
And no matter how good your video production looks, without good storytelling, it won’t connect with your viewers.
Video production is important. Storytelling matters.
Boring videos don’t get watched. Entertaining videos get shared.
Video marketing is more than just uploading your video to Youtube and sitting back to wait. Your video should appeal to people outside of your immediate circle of influence. When a quality video gets shared, your audience will spread the message of your company.
Online video viewing has boomed in recent years, and there are now over 1 billion users on YouTube each month. A quality video will stand out from the rest, and capture the attention of your ideal customer.
Why video marketing is effective
- Videos inspire, educate and entertain your audience
- An evergreen video production can be used for many years
- Videos can be easily optimized in the search engines, bringing more customers to your website
- You can receive real-time interaction and feedback from your clients with video marketing
- Studying video analytics can help you to see how successful your marketing campaigns can be
- Videos are easily shared, so that your customers can effortlessly refer their friends
- Your competitors are using video marketing, and potentially taking your customers
- Videos can be easily viewed on any type of device, including mobile phones and tablets
Marketing your video to get results
You want to make sure your video is viewed online. Video marketing strategically places your videos in the sight of your potential customers.
Without proper video marketing, it is easy for a video to get lost among the “noise” online. Working with a professional video marketer will help your video to be seen by the people who matter most: your ideal customers.
Stellar Platforms provides:
- Conception and Scriptwriting
- Shooting and Lighting
- Editing and Post-production
- Special effects
- Motion graphics
- Logo manipulation
- Youtube, Vimeo, and Wistia channel uploads
- Social networking on video sites
- Promotion on fan pages and websites
Every one of our videos is a custom solution. We work with all budgets and timelines.
Interested? We would like to hear about you and your project.
Please take a few moments to fill out this form, so that I can come to our conversation prepared with ideas and strategies.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is making your website easy to read by search engines. I wouldn’t go so far as calling Google stupid (it is, quite likely, the largest artificial brain on the planet) but it thinks in very different ways than we do. Part of the reason Google think so differently is that it has massive amounts of data to sort through, in its unique thinking process. You can’t just ‘tell’ something to Google. You have to spoon feed it.
SEO is how you spoon feed the search engines.
When someone is searching for red tricycles, Google will ignore a site that is dedicated to the history and development of the Radio Flyer company, with detailed specs and blueprints about the carry load on different models, if the site has no SEO. Thats why you often see annoying sites at the top of your google search titled “RED TRICYCLE WHEEL RED TRICYCLE PEDALS SEATS NOW.”
That website spoon fed to Google everything that the site was about. Google ate it up.
Here’s how you can do it:
Easy Search Engine Optimization Tips
- Get bold. When you bold a word, Google assumes there is more importance about it.
- Find the keys to your words. A ‘keyword‘ is a word that people use to search for your subject. Pepper your content with keywords that people will use to find them, and then – use them on your headings.
- Make Headings. Keywords in the headings of your content (h2 and h3 tags) are seen by search engines as especially important. You can write your post with keyword research first, headings second, and content third.
- Alt your images. Put your keywords into the Alt Text of your images – Google can’t read your image, but it can read your alt text. (My tricycle up above – hover over the image with your mouse to see what it says.)
- Get backlinked. When someone else on another website links to your site, Google thinks you have valuable content, too, and you’re not just screaming your head off in the wilderness. Some search engine optimizations specialists make their living just on backlinks. (Be careful, though…many of them wear black hats.)
- Get deeplinks. Don’t just link to your homepage. Link to sub-pages, or specific posts. It shows that you have a wealth of information all over your site, not just a good homepage.
- Trade content. Those other websites that do what you do? Or do something tangentially related to what you do? They like SEO, too. Guest post on each other’s blogs, and link back to each other.
- Get shared. There are fantastic, automated plugins you can use to allow readers to share your content with the click of a button. Use them, so your content can be used by others.
- Tag your pages. Not with graffiti, but with meta tags, alt tags, and other techie stuff that should be easy if you’ve got search engine optimization plugins like Yoast or All-In-One SEO pack on your WordPress-powered website.
- Don’t be dense. For a while, ‘keyword density’ was sooooo important that thousands of websites repeated their keywords every keyword other keyword word in their keyword article. Google is not stupid. (Biggest brain on the planet.) Their algorithm was modified, and now frowns on sites that attempt to spoon-feed it garbage.
- Do some research. Use Google’s own free keyword planning tool to find out how people are searching for sites like yours, and write new and interesting content about those subjects.
- Get friendly. Do an unexpected favor for other website owners in your sphere. Comment on their blogs. Participate in their conversations. You will find them returning the favor, because we all like to have friends.
“Caelan has done a phenomenal job on our SEO. We are the number one site that comes up in our area for any alternative health related search. We are also coming up on the first page of results for conventional medical searches! We love Caelan and his thoughtful, conscientious work on the design and the SEO of our site, thanks Caelan!”
At its core, the purpose of your website is to help strangers become customers. The transaction where this formally happens on the Internet is usually in eCommerce shopping carts.
The moment a new customer pays you for the first time, that is when they are putting their money where their mouth is; they know, like, and trust you, and believe in you enough that they are willing to invest their hard-earned dollars and purchase your product, your service, or your mission.
This is a crucial transition point, because if your digital infrastructure fails them here, they may never trust you again.
What are the best eCommerce Shopping Carts for small businesses?
There are many variables that factor into selecting the best ecommerce platform for your small business. You can schedule a consultation with us to get customized recommendations on the best shopping cart for your website; generally we find that the platform you want corresponds to the level of your business.
Amateur – Gumroad
Professional – Freshbooks
Rising Star – Woocommerce
Illuminator – InfusionSoft
If you’re just starting out, don’t bother with the difficulty and challenges of internet security. Gumroad has a really simple set-up process, it looks great, and it lets you sell digital products easily.
If you’ve been doing this for a while, Freshbooks is the best online accounting and invoicing software on the market. You can add clients and send them invoices with ease, which they can pay with PayPal or a credit card.
By the time you are ready to start handling transactions on your own website, it’s time to look at WooCommerce. This extensible plugin has a myriad of integrations, and can support sophisticated shopping cart functions on any WordPress website.
When you are ready to scale, InfusionSoft provides the complicated post-purchase nurture sequences of the best marketing automation platforms. Be warned: it’s not easy to set up or use, which is why it’s nickname is ‘ConfusionSoft.’
Can I set up an eCommerce Shopping Cart myself?
The short answer is: yes, if that’s really how you want to spend your time.
There are so many perils and pitfalls, though, that most people find it best to hire an expert to handle the technical installation, SSL encryption, payment gateways, and merchant accounts.
Each one of these components could take you a week or more to figure out, and you may run into issues that take experienced programmers many hours to overcome.
If you are growing your business, your time is best spent leveraging your greatest genius. If programming shopping carts is not where your brilliance is, build your team with those geniuses – or at the very least, get some good advice.
Schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation and we will help you figure out your next move.
“Caelan is a talented digital marketer who is always in beast mode – always zoned in, every pixel, every letter, every plugin, every line. He will help you discover the online success you’ve been hunting for.”
Third party integrations can be confusing, but any website that is more than brochure-ware needs to manage multiple platforms by using them.
What is 3rd party integration?
Third party integrations with WordPress websites are when you sync another platform or account with your website, allowing a free and open exchange of data between your website and the third-party platform.
You have an ESP (Email Service Provider) that sends out your email newsletter. People can sign up for your newsletter on your website. When they do, a 3rd party integration allows the newsletter form on your website to seamlessly pass the data to your ESP.
How does a 3rd Party Integration work?
Usually, a third-party integration passes data along an API, an Application Programming Interface. This is a set of programming commands that define what kinds of data is communicated between applications, and how that data is formatted.
The most common time that website owners interact with an API is with their API key. This is a random string of characters that verifies one program to pass data onto another – for example, your ESP has an API key, that is unique to your account. When you install their plugin onto your sidebar, so people can signup for your newsletter, it is the API key that tells the signup form how the data is to be formatted, which ESP it is going to, and to which account within that ESP the data needs to be delivered.
Many 3rd party integrations, especially in eCommerce websites, require customizations of arcane settings in order to get them to function smoothly for the user. Spending lots of time trying to figure these myriad options can be frustrating to even computer programmers; if you are not a programmer, and you find yourself spending hours fiddling with the settings of one of your WordPress plugins, it is time to work with someone who knows these plugins inside and out, so you can get back to doing what you do best.
Third Party Integrations With WordPress Plugins We Use Frequently
- iMember 360
- Constant Contact
- Google Analytics
- Amazon Web Services
- Gravity Forms
- Contact form 7
Do you have a complicated 3rd party integration with your website that we can help you with? Contact us today to tell us about what you’re working on.
The best landing page design has one (and only one) clear goal for the user to take. The best landing pages have simple goals:
A landing page is optimized to make the user take one action – and if you provide distracting alternatives to that one action, you dilute the effectiveness of your landing page.
Landing Page Design Best Practices
- Only one Call-to-Action
- No navigation bar or footer menu
- Solution to a pain point promised in the headline
- Test the entire sales funnel start-to-finish with a dummy user
- A/B test the landing page design monthly
Landing Page Design Checklist
If you are designing your own landing page, ask yourself these 12 questions:
- Does your opening quickly offer or clearly imply a strong benefit?
- Is everything instantly clear? If it’s funny, clever or obscure – beware.
- Have you told the whole story? Unless you give every sensible reason to buy, answer obvious questions and overcome all reasonable objections, you’ll lose conversions.
- Is what you sell fully and clearly described?
- Is the tone right? Don’t be funny about serious things (e.g. charity, business or money).
- Do you demonstrate the benefit – give examples, quantify it, compare it to alternatives? People want to know how and why you are better.
- Do you prove your claim is true? Testimonials? Independent figures?
- Do you ask firmly enough for a reply, telling people precisely what to do? Repeat your arguments at that point.
- Is the coupon, order form or request to reply big enough, clear, simple and easy to use?
- Does your copy, when read aloud, sound like someone talking? Good!
- Have you shown it to someone uninvolved, preferably a likely prospect? Ask if they understand it – and if they would buy.
- Do you have a plan in place to regularly test and modify this page? What converts well today may not convert in six months, as technology changes.
Best Landing Page Design Inspiration
These websites are good places to go when you are designing a landing page. Browse through the best of the best, notice what really grabs your attention, and take notes on how they structure their layout or their content flow.
Recent Landing Pages Produced by Stellar Platforms:
“Caelan, I have to say….you are AMAZING!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you have done! I am so thrilled, Thank you a million! This is all really coming together – WOW – its like watching my dreams come to LIFE!!”
The best sales funnel strategy helps a stranger become a customer. That’s the purpose of your website, after all; if your website helps a stranger become a customer, it doesn’t matter how ugly it is, or what fonts you use, or what kind of CMS or fancy plugins you use. If your digital platform helps a stranger become a customer because of a solid online sales funnel strategy, your website is a win.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is a series of steps that communicate to your customer in the language of the different stages that your customer goes through, from discovery all the way through to purchase.
Your online sales funnel strategy is a map of all the digital infrastructures that guide a stranger through the journey to becoming your customer.
How to Make an Online Sales Funnel Strategy
There are many different ways to map your sales funnel, based on the stages that your prospective customer goes through. Three typical methods we use at Stellar Platforms to map out these stages are:
- Actions the user takes
- Website URLs for each stage
- Emotional reactions that cause them to progress to the next stage
You can use any of these methods individually, but I like to look at my funnel through the lens of each of these three. The action, the page, and the emotion are all relevant pieces of each stage; by looking at the continuum of the sales funnel, from start to finish, through these frameworks, you can identify ways to smooth the transition from one stage to the next.
That’s the ultimate purpose of a sales funnel, in the end – identify and remove any friction that could keep a stranger from becoming a customer.
Stages of an Online Sales Funnel
Many digital sales funnels look like this:
- Landing page
- Opt-in incentive
- Thank-you page
- Email autoresponders
- Sales page
- Purchase page
- Access page
As I said before, there are infinite variations on this framework, but this is a general the outline to get you started.
If we are building a brand new website, the pages of the online sales funnel would look like this:
Website Pages of Sales Funnel Stages
Blog – Someone clicks on a link on social media, and they end up on your website, reading an article you’ve written. This is not the place to sell to them. This is the place to gain their interest.
About – When they are interested, they go the most highly trafficked page on your website – the About page. This is where people go when they wan to know more about you, and what you do.
Subscribe – Your qualified prospects find your call-to-action intriguing, because they face the major problem that your product or service solves. They agree to let you into their inbox.
Thanks – Whatever free PDF or opt-in incentive you’ve offered is delivered to them. This is the best place for introducing yourself in a deep and meaningful way, setting the stage, letting them know how often you will email them, and how to find and follow you on social media.
Services – after a few educational emails that deliver good value, they have a hunch that they could work with you. They open an email from you about your gateway offer, they decide to research you, and they read the specifics about your rates and terms.
Checkout – This is where they buy. Please note: they do not buy from you at earlier stages in the online sales funnel, so don’t sell to them there. You should reserve your sales messages for people who have advanced far enough in your sales funnel that they know, like, and trust you.
Online Sales Funnel Platforms
While you can make a sales funnel in your own WordPress website, there are online platforms that make page creation, email integration, and lead magnet delivery a breeze.
Here are three of our favorites sales funnel creation tools:
“Marketing my personal business has a new direction and focus thanks to Caelan. His talent for listening and understanding combined with his skills for painting the big picture really helps me to spend my advertising budget most effectively for getting the best results. Not only does he see the big picture from a unique perspective, he is able to map the steps to take my business in the direction that will be most beneficial for me and my clients.”
The top of your sales funnel offers a lead magnet to incentivize people to subscribe to your email newsletter, or to create an account on your membership website. A free ebook, an mp3 download, a whitepaper, or access to the resources section of your website, are all ‘opt-in incentives’ that encourage people to exchange their email address for the valuable information that you can give them. We call them ‘lead magnets’ because they attract the leads you want to put in your funnel – if your lead magnet design process was done correctly.
Let’s face it, you can stuff any kind of lead into your sales funnel, but the leads that you want are the ones that have the highest chance of becoming your customer.
Free lead magnets are opt-in bribes.
You are building your list, and the free ebook you offer above your email subscription form is your bribe to get people to subscribe.
Be sure you are bribing the right people.
Lead magnet design checklist
- Your lead magnet addresses a problem your customer avatar is facing right now
- The title is clear and descriptive (and maybe a little clickbait-y)
- The medium is digestible quickly (a 5-page report is better than a 7-hour video series)
- Delivery of the lead magnet is automated through your email service provider
- A professional graphic designer was either involved in the production, or was asked for their opinion about the lead magnet design
- The lead magnet ends with a call-to-action to move to the next stage of your sales funnel
Typical Lead Magnet Ideas
Being a lead magnet creator does not mean that you have to become a copywriter, graphic designer, and sales funnel strategist all at the same time. All you have to do is offer to solve a problem that would make a stranger thank you for providing them with an easy solution to the challenge they are facing.
Here are some ideas for creating a lead magnet for your website:
- A guide, report, or handbook converted from one of your longer blog posts
- A cheat sheet for easy reference
- A worksheet they can print and fill out, with questions that will give them valuable perspective on the biggest challenges or pain points their audience faces
- A resource list, with links and descriptions
- A video training or webinar replay you have given in the past
- A free trial or discount code to sample your service
- A survey, assessment, or quiz, to give them an interactive experience that leads to a customized recommendation
- Your pricing, rates, or service directory
What Makes The Best Lead Magnet?
After studying many digital marketers and sales funnel specialists over the years, I’ve found the most successful lead magnets have these attributes:
- The design is consistent with the overall brand strategy
- The material is thorough and in-depth
- There are many insider’s resources that are collected all into one place
- They are filled with affiliate links
Affiliate marketing has a questionable reputation in online marketing, because it is so easy to do it badly. The typical smarmy salesperson who everybody wants to avoid – they can get online and get real loud with all of their affiliate links, and drive potential customers away by brazenly pushing their affiliate links on everyone.
But when affiliate marketing is done well, it’s easy and seamless, and provides a solid revenue stream that can support your business.
Your lead magnet is the best cornerstone for your affiliate marketing strategy. This is where you can collect resources that you have spent time vetting, comparing, and studying; and if you use that opportunity to suggest a resource that your target customer would love to know about, an affiliate link isn’t unexpected, it’s the right and proper use of affiliate links.
For an example of lead magnets and list building done well, read Pat Flynn’s email list strategy and get his ebook, Ebooks the Smart Way.
You can also read ‘How To Wake Up Early (And Like It)‘ by Caelan Huntress. Note the CTA at the end – it’s the entire purpose of this ebook.
Breanne Dyck has quickly become one of the most highly regarded business and learning strategists in the online marketplace. She’s one of those experts that the “big names” go to when they want to get their business and their online courses to the next level. Her Beyond Satisfaction book launch this week has brought many of those big names out to talk about why her work is so transformative.
Over the past few years, she’s worked with lots of big-name influencers you’d probably recognize (Chris Guillebeau, Natalie Sisson, Tara Gentile to name a few) to help them create courses that aren’t just profitable, but actually change lives. And in this new book, she shows you how to do the same.
The Problem With Online Courses Today
The online course marketplace is getting crowded. Now that publishing is easy, there are many low-quality courses out there, diluting the effectiveness of online education.
Breanne’s Beyond Satisfaction book helps course creators aim higher than average, by designing the course around the transformation that happens to the student.
The Beyond Satisfaction book is not just about crafting a highly profitable online course, program or workshop, but also provides the strategy for how to create an online course withou having to settle for less-than-transformational results. It’s full of case studies, research and case studies about how you can create a course that truly gets results.
Stories of people who have cracked the code on leveraged products that are extraordinarily profitable … and incredibly transformative.
Stories like Tara Gentile. Tara had been offering her flagship group program for years, and it got solid results. But as time went on, Tara found that her customers were less and less willing to buy. They were getting jaded about online courses, and had put themselves on a course buying moratorium. They were afraid that if they did invest, they wouldn’t ever use it.
Despite all of this, Tara was able to adjust and adapt her program so that it’s now selling more easily than ever — and getting better results, too.
If you want to know more about how Tara did it (along with several other great case studies and success stories), you need to read Breanne’s new Beyond Satisfaction book.
Exclusive Interview with Breanne Dyck, author of the Beyond Satisfaction book
Who did you write this book for, specifically?
This book is for the online business owner who is tired of courses, workshops and programs that may look good on the outside, but fail to deliver customer results. Whether they’ve offered courses before or are preparing to offer their first one, they recognize that just “having a course” isn’t enough. Their customers — and their business — deserve better. If you are a course creator who wants to have a massive impact on your students’ lives, this book is your guide to doing that.
What is the most surprising thing about people who make online courses?
It never ceases to amaze me just how little most people think about what they’re actually creating. They’ll think about sales, they’ll think about marketing, they’ll think about what tech to use … but they won’t think about how people learn, and how that impacts what they end up creating. In fact, some are downright dismissive of the idea that there could be a better way to deliver training products and get their customers taking action. That blows my mind — if there was a chance that you could create better results for your students, and thereby your business, wouldn’t you want to take it?
What are your predictions for online education over the next 5 years?
The market is going to get more and more crowded, and as such, more and more jaded. We’re already seeing the start of this, and the results are that many course creators are finding it harder than ever to sell out the very same programs that used to “sell themselves.” So they’re looking for new revenue streams, and new ways to deliver their training: membership sites, masterminds, certification programs, intensives, and more. Plus, let’s not forget the impact of changing technology. The first business to capitalize on virtual and augmented reality in a way that is natural and authentic? Will have a gold mine on their hands.
Who do you really look up that is teaching online courses right now, and why?
The easy answer here is for me to say Tara Gentile, but I feel like that’s somewhat of a cop-out given that I’ve had a hand in crafting those learning experiences. But the people that I really am paying attention to, right now, are the ones who are experimenting with new forms of delivery other than the same old “8-week video course” as well as those who are actually looking to break out of the online-only world and do online/in-person hybrids. I can’t really give you names, because those products aren’t public yet, but be on the lookout for them. They’re coming.
When someone is just starting out with teaching online courses, what is the advice you always give them, that they don’t even think about until they hear it from you?
There’s two things, depending on where they’re at with their business. The first is that an online course shouldn’t be your first product. Unless or until you’ve worked with people one-on-one, you really shouldn’t be rushing into creating a leveraged product. After all, if you can’t find one or two people to sell to now, how on earth are you going to find ten, twenty or more that you can sell to as a group? For those who already have a service or product that they sell and are wanting to turn that into a more leveraged product / learning experience, you need to obey the 80/20 Rule of Curriculum. 80% of your participants’ time should be spent DOING the work, and only 20% consuming content. It’s really contrary to “common sense”, but the less content you include … the more likely your participants are to see success. Provided you’re giving them the right 20% content (and activities), that is!
How To Get The Beyond Satisfaction Book
Go to http://beyondsatisfactionbook.com/.