☹️My course platform DIDN’T work

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I had that problem this week, when the sign-up process for my free course ended up being way more complicated than I thought.

So I swapped platforms. Frustrating, but hey – you need to kiss a few frogs to find your prince, right?

And speaking of finding your prince, here’s the result of the marriage proposal we saw at the Trevi Foundation. So gorgeous!

Wedding proposal at Trevi Fountain in Rome!

And this is a short episode, for a very odd reason – listen to the end to find out why 🤬🤣

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Resources mentioned

I mention the following resources in the podcast when I talk about my software choices.

Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I will receive a commission if you purchase via that link (thanks!) – see my disclosure here.

Bluetooth foldable keyboard – this was a FANTASTIC purchase. If I want to write on planes and trains, or while I’m waiting in the car, I can connect it to my phone, and be typing within a minute. Plus it fits in my pocket and the battery lasts forever 😍

Heartbeat – it’s great for a community-first business, but I found out it’s NOT so great for hosting a free course. Totally my fault – should have tested it earlier.

Should I buy it?! episode – where I talk about the importance of having a great checkout, and how the features in Thrivecart converted into a big increase in income for me.

Podia – Course-first platform, with excellent onboarding of new students – it soothed my frazzled nerves very quickly 😆

6 Profitable Income Stream Ideas post – my overview of the different ways you can make money with digital products. There are quite a few so you can choose the one that suits you best.

Australian Homeschooling Summit – my previous business! I did two workshops this year (affording to homeschool plus a tech panel) and there are hundreds of other awesome workshops available. A must-have if you’re homeschooling.


Hey there! I’m Kelly Kotanidis, and welcome to Online Business from Scratch, where I’m taking you behind the scenes as I build my new online business from scratch to a full-time income, while making sure it’s a great fit for my traveling homeschooling life. I will be walking you through everything I do and why so that you can follow along and build your own flexible online business quickly and efficiently.

Now, this is the update for day 60 of my new online business. It’s 8 days since my last update, and I wrote this on a plane from Rome to Thessaloniki in Greece. I highly recommend getting a little Bluetooth keyboard if you’re a traveler. I can stick it and my phone on my mini tray table on a plane, train, or bus, and have my offline Google Docs ready to go and write away quite easily with a lot of battery life. It’s much easier than trying to juggle a laptop.

Business-wise, I’ve had an eventful week. I thought the Business Idea Blitz was all ready to go on Heartbeat, and then I tested it with my husband signing up, and it just didn’t work. There were lots of steps for people to get in there; it required downloading an app, which is an instant no for so many people. There was no way to send people directly to the course, so when they did log into the app, they had to find the course, and it was just all bad. There were so many barriers to people getting in there and actually starting the course that, unfortunately, it’s just not an option. The last thing I want people to do when they sign up for something is to make them jump through hoops and do lots of steps before they even get to the content. They’re going to get frustrated, ditch it, and have a bad impression of me. I would be ruining my business from day one and also have to deal with all the “I can’t get into the course” problems, which is too much pointless customer service.

I’m kicking myself for not testing this sooner. I assumed people could use a browser, and they actually can, but all of the automatic ‘create your account’ steps required downloading the app, and it’s a bit of a bother. So, when people sign up for something or have any interaction with your business, it really needs to be as smooth and easy as possible with minimal steps and very clear instructions and expectations. I mentioned this in the “Should I Buy It?” episode, where I talked about my ThriveCart purchase and how we need to make checkout as simple and straightforward as possible. It really applies to every interaction everyone has with you and your business.

When someone signs up for my freebie, I want them to be taken straight to the welcome page of the freebie, no further steps needed. They can start straight away if they like. I also want them to immediately get a welcome email with their login details and troubleshooting for any common issues, like ‘Here’s how to reset your password. Please reply to this email if you have any trouble, and I will fix it for you’. So it’s a really easy process for them, they can do it all independently.

It gives a professional impression, and they’re not abandoning the course or emailing me with all these issues that I need to fix. That is not my ideal, that’s actually my non-negotiable. Anything I use has to work like that. There is absolutely no point in me pouring dozens or hundreds of hours into a resource that is just too much of a pain in the ass for people to access.

I then did some investigation, and again, I should have done this much earlier. I found that this is a common problem with hosting courses in community platforms like Heartbeat and Circle. People are now starting to say that they just won’t sign up for courses hosted inside these platforms because it’s awkward to have all of those accounts. I think they’re great if your main goal is to have a membership with courses included, but not if courses are the main products. Really, that’s the way they’re marketed, so it’s not like I’ve been misled. I just assumed it would work a bit differently, but it didn’t, so I dumped it and have gone with Podia. I’ve mentioned it a number of times in the podcast because I have used it before for a couple of years, and it’s a great option. It has actually been a bit of a relief because it has all gone so smoothly. It’s set up for exactly what I need, and it just works.

So, I had to set all that up. My husband transferred the content, and we tested it. It worked, thankfully, and I’ve invited my testers to try it out. I’m waiting to hear back from them before sending everyone else who signed up over there. I haven’t done the videos yet, but they’re kind of like the icing on the cake. I figure they’re a helpful addition, but they’re not essential, and I just had to get moving. It’s been over a month since the first people signed up for this freebie, and I also knew that once I got people in there, that would be a lot of extra motivation for me to add the videos as well.

This week, I also finished my income streams post and published that. That one is a bit of an overview of all the different ways you can earn money with digital products and websites: what each one involves, and the pros and cons of each one. That should enable people to learn the options and work out which ones would suit them best in a bit of an introductory way.

I’ve mostly finished my Australian Homeschooling Summit Workshop, which is good news because it’s in only 3 days. I just have a few slides to go. I always forget how much I like writing and running workshops, and I seem to get good reviews, so others must enjoy them too. It’s definitely something that I want to do more often in the future, so I will need to make that happen.

So, it’s been a big week. I finished the freebie, I swapped platforms, I got Podia all set up, I finished the income streams guide, I got the testers set up, and we also ran a half marathon in Naples. I got a personal best, so yay for me! It’s good to see that all this training we’ve been doing has had some positive effects. Then we moved on to Rome and had a pretty intense 3 days of fun tourist stuff there, with lots of gelato, of course. We even witnessed a wedding proposal in front of the Trevi Fountain, so that was pretty fun. Luckily, she said yes! I’m really looking forward to having a slower week back in Thessaloniki, one of my favorite cities, before we start traveling around Greece.

Now, I really have to go because the guy sitting on the plane next to me has been chewing his nails and hands and inspecting the results non-stop for the past hour. It’s one of those things that automatically gives me rage. I’ve been giving him the death stare, but he just keeps on chomping and gnawing away. So now I just have to turn my back to him and read before I lose it. I know he’s probably just nervous; lots of people hate flying. But nail chewing is something that I simply cannot be rational about, so I’m going to turn my back to him, double layer my earplugs and headphones, focus on my book, and blank him out for now.

And on that rather strange note, thanks so much for listening. I will be back next week with the latest update, and hopefully, I’ll finish without any rage-inducing strangers. I’ll see you then.

Thanks for listening!

Got any questions? Feel free to to drop them in the comments below.

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