This is episode #3 of our 6 part Thinkific series. So far we have talked with Rob Balasbas who works for Thinkific. And Ariane Cap who had an established course that she brought over to Thinkific utilizing the platform for what she needed. If you haven’t listened to those episodes you can find them here.
Today we are talking with Mr. Mo. Mr. Mo uses Thinkific to share his storyboard class online. To him, it’s a great platform, because it really takes away all the coding and technology. Why is this important? Mr. Mo says it’s important because it allows you to focus 100% on creating content and adding value to your students.
Let’s back up a little bit.
Mr. Mo was born in Korea, grew up in Argentina, and now he’s living in Los Angeles. He’s been working as a storyboard artist in the entertainment business for 14 years. So then when you are in this field for that long, you meet aspiring artists. Often they come to you and they have questions. They want some guidance.
And of course, Mr. Mo is more than happy to help them all. But his time is limited. Like everyone else, he only has 24 hours a day. So then the best way to help everyone was to create an online course. And he says the experience so far has been phenomenal.
So he basically took what people were asking him for on the street, in coffee shops, and in a place of work and translated it into something that he could sell online.
And I think that’s great. It makes it so tangible. So because he knew he wanted to create the ability to teach in a “one to many” setting because he didn’t have hundreds of thousands of hours that he could give to each individual person.
So why did he choose to share his knowledge in such a competitive industry?
Mo shared that he really believes in adding value. And also, the whole fact of secrecy, he thinks it’s fading really quickly because of information is so accessible. Also story-boarding itself is a major and also a department that not many artists know. So he wanted to get the word out and let aspiring artists know that there is such an industry. And there is actually need for good artists to come on board and help with the production.
So then he thinks it’s a win-win deal for everyone. Even production studios win here because the demand for original content is growing so fast. They will need more and more artists to be available. And Mo cannot do all the storyboard work himself. He needs people and talented artists to. I’m sure the entertainment business also needs them. This is why it’s a win win situation.
Doesn’t that kind of thinking just speak to Mr. Mo’s integrity? And it also speaks to how he is a part of the production system. And he’s not just one person in there. It’s interesting to me that he can then watch his students as they develop their own story-boarding and their own craft. It definitely gives Mo the opportunity to find students that really has a knack for this craft. He’s kind of like a talent agent at some level.
So how does Mr.Mo interact with, inspire, and help his students beyond the classroom? Beyond the course?
Mr. Mo shared that once they sign up, he has a private Facebook page where he’s always in touch with his students. Because he believes keeping himself accountable. So he lets his students know that he’s there watching them. He’s not stalking them, but he’s watching their progress.
Every once in a while he will reach out to them privately. He will ask them personal questions. Because the beauty of teaching online is that you’re able to connect with people that are the other side of the world, right? And Mr. Mo shared that it’s been an amazing experience to see them grow and learn from him. So he wants to make sure that they get their ROI, because they’re purchasing the course. They’re putting their trust in him. He wants to make sure that they get their return.
The most important thing that I think for course creators to do is to provide an environment for their students to succeed.
It’s not good enough to just put out fabulous content, if you haven’t created and foster that environment for them to feel like they can truly get it, master it and use it. If you don’t create the right environment then you’re not doing your “full job” as a course creator.
Teaching online really taught Mr. Mo to care for students on a much deeper level. This is his first online course and the interaction that I have with his students and to see them grow brings so much joy. He really enjoys what he’s doing at this point.
As I said before, the most important thing is making sure that you’re living up to your promise to your students that they were going to learn this from your course. How does Mo help them make sure that they realize that they are getting that value?
For Mo, this is where Thinkific comes in because they have really amazing automation system for course creators. Which is awesome because it means you don’t have to be hands on all the time with repetitive tasks. It’s always great to automate. So this is one of the functions of Thinkific that he uses. His students get a weekly reminder of the progress. And if they’re not making progress, they get a reminder to help them really keep moving forward. Mo would like to thank Thinkific for these automations. I’m sure there are lots of others who echo that sentiment.
The function that Mo is talking about is the built in reminders that you can either turn on or turn off inside. It is turned on by default. It’s perfect. But I was curious if Mo has any external email solution that he uses to compliment things. Or does he just keep it as simple as possible, using as much as possible from inside Thinkific?
Mo shared that at this very moment, everything is done with Thinkific. If he does send them an email it is just through Gmail. He is utilizing direct messaging on Facebook as well. He makes sure to become friends with all his students on Facebook. He likes to keep it personal. At the end of the day, he’s creating an online course and then it selling online, but he’s dealing with real people. So for him, building a relationship is very important.
I have to say I love that. I think this is a really great approach to making this make sense for him and his students and cultivating that knowledge and culture of we’re all doing this. We all can leverage each other and we can learn new techniques. He’s saying to his students, “I can learn from you just as much as you’re learning from me.” And anytime that your students might have a question, that may prompt a revision of a module. It may prompt a bonus video or different things like that. So having that really tangible connection with his students makes great sense.
I was curious to know, since this is his one online platform, how did people start finding his course? And how is he actually getting it out there that this course is available?
The way this course got started was through pre-sale. Actually Rob and the people at Thinkific suggested that Mo should do a pre-sale. It would allow him to make sure that there was a demand. So he got the word out through his social media. On his Instagram account he has about 12k followers. Mo shared that the people that follow him do so not because of his travels or anything like that, but because either they like his words or they want to one point become a storyboard artist. So he really used his current social media to reach out to his followers and tell them about the course.
Also he has a good friend in Taiwan out of all places. And he shared earlier, relationships are very important to him. This friend was introduced to him through an online course. It’s funny how life works. You just meet random people. And this guy happens to be an art teacher in Taiwan. So he was the one that actually promoted Mo’s course to his students. There are a lot of students in Taiwan that are actually taking his course.
You see the way Mo promotes his course is very organic.
It is through his social media is, through people that he knows, and through new people that he’s going to meet in the future. He does also have an affiliate program. But he does have certain criteria to be an affiliate. Mo always like to work with either teachers or people that are the educational site.
I love that way Mo promotes his course is organic. It’s using an influencer market. Mo knows that teachers and art students are the types of people who would be most interested in this medium. So it doesn’t make sense for Mo to go and necessarily buy paid advertising to be able to hit men in their 40s who are sick of their 9 to 5 job. That doesn’t make sense, because they aren’t the ones who are passionate about art and getting it out there.
I love the fact that Mo is using his personal Instagram. Anytime that there’s fun Instagram feeds to watch. It’s just it’s a really great way of doing it. And I think that that’s the best way to make sure that you’ve got traction. The last thing I wanted to hear was for Mo to say, “Oh, yeah, I had a couple of people asked me at the coffee shop, if I could create a course for them. So I created it. It took six months for somebody to be interested.” I love that he went the pre-sale approach.
And let’s talk a little bit about that.
Story-boarding usually is done for either movies or commercials or video games. So then, he created a very short intro video of what he was going to teach and who he was is and added the link for the pre-sale. That’s the approach that he used. He uploaded it on Facebook and Instagram. And he got people’s interest.
He shared that he feels the reason that happened was because the people that follow him already enjoyed his artwork. It was also a great way to test the market and see if the demand was actually there.
I wanted to know if Mo had any thresholds that he was tracking to figure out that he was going to go through and actually create the course. Was it the number of click throughs? Or maybe the number of purchasers? How did he know after doing the pre-sale that this was really truly viable?
So for Mo, if he promises something, he was going to deliver no matter what. So if he said he was going to pre-sell and if even one student will sign up, then he’ll really put his heart into it and make it happen. But in reality, life is life. You have bills that need to get paid and such. So in the back of his head, he had a number that he needed to reach for him to dedicate his time for at least two months to create a course. But like I said, even if one student would sign up, Mo shares that he thinks he would have created it. But it would have taken longer to do so because he couldn’t take 2 months off to create the course for just one person.
Mo actually took a couple months off to create the course. Because story-boarding is actually a freelance job unless you are working for a production company. He was able to take about two months “off” to create his course. So essentially he took two months to freelance for himself and really create a course and make sure that he would set the level that he was happy with.
Mo has been selling the course for about a month now.
So we recorded this in August. So by the time this episode is live, it has been under his belt for about two months. I figured that he had been on the platform a lot longer. Just because when I look at what Mo has on there, it looks so professional. It looks like Mo is all in and that this is top notch. And I know that Thinkific makes some of those things easy. But Mo also had to spend the time to make it right.
So what’s the feedback that Mo is getting from his students? Are they getting stumped on anything? Has he modified anything since he launched?
Mo hasn’t modified anything. But some of the students are still going through the modules. He noticed that everybody has their own life. People are busy nowadays. So he understands that some students take longer. And some students have already finished and the last homework is actually creating a portfolio.
In that homework assignment, he gave them a realistic deadline. He told them they could take about a month to finish the last assignment. So he has students that are really putting the time and effort to create their own portfolio.
When those portfolios are finished and the students have officially wrapped up the course, what are they poised to do next? Are they going to come back to Mo for something more? Are they going to be able to submit for freelance jobs? What’s next for them? How is Mo helping them see that vision?
The way that Mo is doing it is whenever they are finished with the portfolio, they can send it to him directly. He will go over the portfolio and review with them. And he told him in advance that we have to be critical at some of the illustrations. So don’t take it don’t take personal. That’s the nature of the business. If you want to become a professional artist, you really have to learn to not take anything personal. Whatever the directors or producers are saying is towards the illustration is not towards you.
Mo thinks that’s the first homework for them to pass. They have to send him their portfolio, and he’ll give them direct feedback. And we keep on improving it until he reaches a point that he’s happy and they’re happy. And once they have reached that point, he gives them an email list of where they can send their works for consideration.
The way that Mo has created this course and is hand holding his students through it is really helping them. It’s literally a career launch. And it really truly has that much power. I think that that’s phenomenal. And really shows the power of an online course.
We didn’t spend a whole lot of time digging into the nitty gritty of Thinkfic because that’s not the point of this conversation. But I wanted to know what Mo’s favorite part of the Thinkific platform has been as he has been putting this course together.
For Mo, it was how easy it is to create a module. And how easy is to rearrange things. He likes the fact that you can choose either to go with video or with text or both or PDF. There are so many different options for customizing your course. Your imagination is the limit. Mo likes how easy the model creation has been set up.
**If anybody is interested in Mo’s course, it looks like there are a few preview units in the first module where people can actually go through and see kind of what Mo has created inside those modules. I cannot wait to get feedback on this podcast episode from the Tech of Business listeners and for them to be able to connect with Mo and to learn more about story boarding.
Be sure if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the podcast in your podcast app. And episode 4 of this series will drop on Wednesday. We’re going to be talking to another user of Thinkific! Thanks for listening to the Tech of Business podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe, share, rate, and review on Apple podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Overcast, or wherever you download your favorite shows.
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