111 – The best right tech for your online programs (and why it matters)

Now, more than ever, this is a topic that is being brought up by a lot of people. Before we get into the episode, I want to take a couple of minutes to let you know how I’m feeling about the Coronavirus and COVID-19. Not because we’re not inundated everywhere with this content, but because it’s fueling an online revolution and it’s got me fired up to get content like today’s scheduled episode out.

Last Wednesday, after my teenager was home from school but before my 11 year old’s day was over, the school district announced closure for the following day for at least two weeks. My husband had already been home for a week at this point and I was mostly trying to make heads or tails of our new normal. I actually really like having him at home. Both of us working, but conversations during the day being over food or breaks instead of text and FB messages.

When the schools announced the closure, we were prepared. We already had an inkling that this was going to happen and I was prepared to have the girls home while we continued to work. We would have more time together because our schedules were more in alignment (since nobody was leaving the house.) So, on the home and work fronts, things were good.

Over the weekend gymnastics for my younger daughter was cancelled and Monday morning dance for my older daughter was suspended as well. Perfect, the decision to go to these programs was taken out of our hands. But there has been something simmering beneath the surface of all this… and that is freedom. We have all lost our freedom to live and work as we wish. That’s really what has been taken from us, no matter the course of the virus spread. Our freedoms that we have taken for granted for as long as we’ve been alive have all but disappeared and we are at the mercy of others. And we had to decide how we were going to maintain our sense of self and self-worth.

And, truth be told, my sense of self disappeared for a bit.

Fortunately it’s coming back – thanks to leaning on my support system. One member of my support system said, and I quote, “you are serving!” and another said “Breathe… you are right where you need to be.” She went on to ask me to name three positive things about where I am right now — and immediately I was able to respond “The work I’m doing, my family and I’m happy busy.”

The other way that I’ve been able to push myself through all the noise is reducing the time I spend on social media and instead having amazing conversations with experts on the upcoming Expand Online Summit which will be open for registration in mid-April and for viewing in May. If you want to be one of the firsts to register, make sure you’re on my email list by going to https://techofbusiness.com/onlineproduct/ and downloading the free Expand Online Getting Started Guide.

I don’t know what the next days and weeks will bring. What I do know is that more and more people are looking to translate something they have previously done in person into something they can offer online. And this is my jam. I love helping you take your genius and get it online so that you can expand your impact and exceed your goals.

With that, let’s transition to the main topic of conversation today… Online program tech requirements.

In episode 110 we went really deep into migrating an in person class into an online group program and in prior weeks we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on . So, this week, we’re going to go technical, because as you know, that’s where I gravitate.

And because I know this is often the biggest question I get from listeners and social media followers – what do I need to do to start selling an online program?

The free guide that I mentioned a few moments ago – The Expand Online Getting Started Guide includes a section on the tech requirements for an online product. We’re going to use that as the basis of what you truly need.

First up: somewhere to share what we’re selling.

This is essentially a webpage. I didn’t say website, just a webpage. A webpage is a single page that shows the product that you’re selling, who it’s for, what it does, the price, dates and times if they are relevant and a button to initiate checkout.

That’s really it. When we boil it down to the must haves. We just need to have an online home to direct our offline clients to so that they can see what our online offer is (and ideally invest in their art by signing up!)

The next thing we need is a way to take payments.

There are two main online payment providers that I use for myself and with my clients. These are Stripe and PayPal. With PayPal you need to have a business account not a personal one. You don’t need the pro level and there is no fee to maintain the account.

Stripe will automatically transfer your money to your bank account about 3 days after the payment is received. PayPal holds your money until you request to transfer it to your bank account and then it takes about a day to complete the transfer.

On the checkout page of a website Stripe comes across as credit card fields right on the page whereas PayPal is a button that takes purchasers to PayPal to complete the payment. I read somewhere that offering both options increases purchase rate by up to 15%.

Our next tool is the home base for the product.

I strongly recommend using MemberVault to start off with. Their forever free plan allows you to have 50 users without paying them anything. It also has native integration with both Stripe and PayPal and can serve as the webpage that I mentioned earlier.

I’ve talked about MemberVault a fair amount on the podcast already and I’ll continue to do so simply because I know it’s a minimalist tool that can do so much heavy lifting. Episodes 43 – 47 were my 5-part MemberVault series. And they are absolutely worth a listen to get a good idea how MemberVault works.

Depending on the type of program you’ve created, you’ll use MemberVault in one of a few different ways.

If you’ve created an online group program, you’ll use it to share samples, worksheets and guides with your participants. They will be able to answer questions and give you feedback along the way.

If you’ve created an online course or membership site, you’ll provide the training content inside your MemberVault account as well.

If you’re creating any video content (which you should be — and we’ll talk a whole lot more about that in a few weeks) then you’ll need to house the video content somewhere. My recommendation is a Vimeo Pro account, which costs $20/month but I can usually find a coupon code to reduce the fee. If you’re strapped for cash, you can use YouTube to house your videos to start with. But let me say this — the Vimeo Pro experience is far better for our viewers than the YouTube embed.

The next set of tools are those that create community. Zoom and Facebook.

Zoom Pro is the tool you’ll be using to host the live components of your program. It is a video conferencing app and I use it on a daily basis.

And Facebook, oh Facebook. Hosting a Facebook group as part of your online program is almost a necessity these days because we’re all craving connection and this is the most robust connection platform available right now. So you’ll find that embracing a Facebook group will be invaluable as you expand online.

There’s one other absolutely critical tech tool that needs to be in place before you start selling your online group program, membership or courses — and that’s an email marketing system.

I am a huge proponent of ActiveCampaign and if you don’t have an automated email system yet, it’s the one I most strongly recommend. It also ties in super well with MemberVault because that’s what they use for their business.

ActiveCampaign is going to be the tool you use to communicate with your participants — you’ll use it to let them know that new content is available, you’ll use it to remind them of live sessions, you’ll use it to ask for testimonials and feedback. And, in time, you’ll use it as you expand your online following to nurture prospective clients who don’t know you from your local work.

So let’s recap: MemberVault , ActiveCampaign, Vimeo Pro, Stripe, PayPal, Zoom and Facebook. That’s seven tools. And for most of us, it’s 5 or 6 brand new tools.

I want to give you permission right now to not try to tackle all these tools at once. It can break you. You didn’t learn how to do what you do overnight, it took you years, multiple teachers and loads of trial and error. So let’s make this clear — learning all the tools to make that a viable business doesn’t need to be done overnight either. You don’t need to become an expert at all the things to be successful…

And, I’m sure you’ve seen it too – out of virtually nowhere there are “experts” sharing how you can move your entire business online in a day and all this stuff — well, I’m telling you that is not going to create the impact and success you seek. Doing everything at lightning speed really is not practical. Are you really ready to take everything you’ve done in your business and find an online equivalent overnight, then throw open the online doors and have clients immediately take you up on your offers.

That’s just not how it works, and that’s why it’s so helpful to know that you don’t need to implement all the tech all at once. And that you need to feel supported by the tech and comfortable using it, but mastery — that does not need to be your focus.

I’m a technology strategist. It’s my job to help my clients find the best right tech to support their business goals online. The last thing I want you doing is getting bogged down by the tech, So while it is super important to have a strong tech foundation, and that’s why I listed 7 tools to use, it’s also super important to package your teaching in a way that will be best received by your students. Focus on the results you are helping your clients achieve and learn enough about the tools to use them effectively.

Time for my shameless plug — you’ve made it to the end of the shownotes and I would love to work with you to implement your tech so that you can focus on the important stuff ~ your clients! To get started, send me an email at jaime@techofbusiness.com or reach out on  Instagram @jaimeslutzky!

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