121: What does your audience want you to teach?


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Do you know what do your followers want to learn from you?? 

It’s different for everyone but there are overarching themes which is exactly what we’re going to get into and this is how you’ll be able to figure out what online educational product you’re best suited to create for your followers.

So often I have potential clients come to me and say “I’m creating an online course that teaches whatever it is they want to teach and I need your help with getting it all working inside fill in the blank platform.” And I’m excited for them because they have a really great idea and it could land really well.

But I always challenge them, and I’m challenging you, do you know who is actually going to buy this program and learn from you in this way?

It’s all well and good to have the best fill in the blank program online but if it’s not what your audience is looking for, it’s never going to make the income you want and impact you desire.

So, we need to take a step back and make sure we’re really truly listening to our followers and fans to make sure we create what they want. We can give them what they need, but we need to sell them what they want… and the single best way to find out what they want is to ask them!

This is why I’m always asking you to connect with me in my Instagram DMs, reply to my emails and join the Expand Online Community on Facebook… because I want to be in conversation with you. I just made the community easier to join, just go to expandonlinecommunity.com (and yes, I have that linked up in the shownotes)

I absolutely want you to feel comfortable and confident when you’re in conversation with your audience which is what we’re going to dig into for the remainder of this episode.

Our audiences are made up of a lot of individual people. Not a collective. They are individuals and each person is there because you’ve attracted them in some way. Understanding what brought them in and what keeps them there is going to help so much in helping them see their future success by working with or learning from you.

Some audience members are going to be people you’ve connected with in real life, others are going to be there because you used an appropriate hashtag or because your bio matched their search. People might be popping up because you participated in a group program or were on a podcast or on a panel or virtual summit or did some other kind of exposure within the greater community.

While we want to continue to grow our audiences, it’s critical to our business success to serve the people who are currently here. The easiest way to gain insight is to ask for it.

Let’s talk social media; specifically Instagram. On this platform, Stories are where it’s at and the stickers make your stories so actionable.

  • Use the slider stickers — you can ask a question to gauge interest and your audience can just slide it along.
  • Use the poll and quiz stickers where you can ask a question and your audience members can just pick from the options you provide.
  • Use the question sticker and get short feedback in your DMs.
  • Use fun emoji and gif stickers to point people to the DM and get into real conversation!

If you’re going to use the live feature of Instagram stories (which you absolutely should!) then prepare your audience that you’ll be going live. Share on your story. Share on your feed. Share on Facebook. Share in your emails. Help Instagram see that you want to have your audience connect with you on the platform — make it an event!

It’s all well and good to push content out, but that’s not how we’re going to find out what your audience wants to learn from you. The only way to do that is to be in conversation with them. Which is why I am saying this — it’s so much easier to just push content out and wait for people to see it, act on it and love it… but that’s not the way it works. We need to help our audience understand that we want them to engage with us and that we will reply.

One way I like to do that is to take screenshots of actual conversations and put them up on my story. I’ll just blur out or use a sticker to cover any information that I don’t think is appropriate to share publicly. But when you show people that you’re replying and really there, that will help them to connect with you on this platform.

So, there’s one way that you can gauge interest in your audience for the program idea that you have. Another way to ask your audience is within your emails.

If you don’t have an email list yet, what are you waiting for, it’s time to start growing one. This can totally be slow growth but start growing it and then use it for providing value. Provide as much value as you possibly can. The more you give, the more your audience will be able to see how working with you will truly elevate their skills and creativity. And when you’ve gained their trust and confidence, they’ll be more than willing to share with you what they want to learn from you!

While growing and using an email list can feel daunting, it’s one of the most critical pillars of expanding online. Without an email list, you’ll have a much harder time marketing and sharing about your online offers. Without an email list, you’ll be reliant on algorithms that are outside of your control — and who would have ever thought that the word algorithm would ever become commonplace? I mean, it’s a term that I learned in my computer science lectures, not something that I expected anyone in the arts to ever need to know. Wow, so much has changed!

Now, I have a lot of thoughts about email list building outside of what I’ve just said, so we’ll make that the focus of next week’s episode. We also ran a 6 part email marketing series starting back in episode 58 about a year ago on the podcast. That was before I narrowed the focus to  being of service to artists exclusively with the content (and when it was called the Tech of Business podcast) but the material we covered is absolutely relevant to you!

Let’s get back to asking your email list subscribers to better understand what they want to learn from you. These people have chosen to give you their email address in exchange for downloading a piece of free content from your website. They connected with you in some way, so now we need to know how to take them up a level and get excited about learning from you.

If it’s been a while since you emailed your list, this is a perfect opportunity to ask what they are looking for. You can have them reply via email or have them fill out a survey or form of some kind. Keep in mind that open ended questions will get less response than pick one or pick three type questions, which is why when I sent out surveys to the Expand Online Summit attendees, they were a mix of pick from the list and short answer questions. If I were creating your survey for you, I would probably list 3 – 5 things that you would like to teach and ask them to rank them in likelihood of wanting to take that class or workshop or course.

If you have been emailing your list regularly, then take a look at what emails get the most opens to see what type of content they are attracted to. You can also check out who opens your emails most often and do direct outreach to them. And just like with folks who don’t email regularly, you can ask for email replies or a survey.

Staying in conversation with your subscribers is a great way for them to feel invested in your offers and helps them see themselves having the results your programs deliver.

Thinking back to Ariane’s session on the Expand Online Summit, she created and continues to create what her audience is asking for. And that’s precisely why she’s had the success and opportunities that she’s had.

So those are two really great ways of asking your audience, now let’s switch to the overarching themes of your online programs… the themes are specific result programs, incremental improvement programs and exploratory programs.

Our specific results programs are those that promise a finished piece of work or the ability to do a specific skill. If you offer paint-and-sip soirees, then your specific results program is the finished piece of work that they will have at the end of the night. If you offer piano lessons, the specific result may be that they can play a certain piece.

The incremental improvement programs are those that take you from one specific level of proficiency to the next or teach a new technique or methodology to layer on top of what your student already knows. In my opinion, the best online art programs are these incremental improvement programs since there is a continual progression from one incremental program to the next. Here we can have our traditional level or grade progression or common terms like beginner, advanced, everything between them and I like to save mastery for the top level of our incremental programs.

And the exploratory programs are those where you throw caution to the wind and do something unconventional in the name of learning. So a piano teacher might explore percussion instruments and circle it back to piano playing improvements, or a still life painting instructor might explore landscape to understand how to bring some aspect of that technique into the creation of still life work, or an acting coach who generally works on the audition process might work with their students on script memorization tricks and techniques in order to give them something that will help in the audition process.

Here’s the thing though… without surveying your audience, you might not know what type of program you’re best suited to create for them. Are they wanting a specific short term result, or are they in this for lifetime or are they wanting to shake things up and love the way you think outside the box.

In truth, your entire lineup of online programs could be in just one of these styles, it doesn’t have to include all of them. It’s up to you to create what fuels you and serves the needs of your audience. The proof that you’ve created something that your audience wants is when they sign up for your programs. The proof that you’ve listened to their needs is when they sign up and pay you for your wisdom and expertise.

So, what questions do we need to ask and what should we infer from their interaction with you on social media?

Looking at the likes and comments on social media will help you see the type of content that resonates with your audience. If they are liking a lot of your content but not commenting, then you’re not quite there yet — we want comments and engagement not just “oh that’s pretty” or “oh that’s cool.” And like I’ve said, invite conversation… ask questions!

  • Ask them how proficient they are with a specific skill or technique or strategy
  • Ask them to share their greatest frustration with a specific skill or technique or strategy
  • Ask them what they are working on (and even better, ask them to share behind the scenes in real time what they are working on)
  • Ask them what “level” they are at
  • Ask them would you rather questions
  • Ask them point blank if they would be interested in whatever it is that you would like to attend

And then follow up… get deeper and get to know what drove them to answer in the way they answered. And this is really the best part, it doesn’t really matter how they answered! If they answer no they don’t want the program you’re thinking about creating, then find out what program they do want. If they answer that they are frustrated with a technique ask them what they’ve tried so far to figure it out. If they answer highly proficient or a mastery level of something, ask them where they want to take their art next.

We will be able to create a much better product for our audience if we truly understand their wants, needs and desires.

And this is where it comes back to you — what are your wants, needs and desires with respect to expanding your business online?

I have a lot of great stuff coming up on the podcast and inside the Expand Online Community on Facebook but I’m talking to each individual listener right now. If I could create a podcast episode answering your one most pressing question, what would that be? Send me a DM on Instagram, I’m @jaimeslutzky, I would love to know.

You have to be self-serving on social media, because you cannot serve your audience at the top level if you don’t know what they need…

Oh, and another thing that I get asked a lot when I go down this path with my clients is how do I know if they are actually going to buy whatever it is that we’re creating. The easiest way to get the proof that they are willing to put their money where their heart is, is with pre-selling. This is where you announce that your program is open for enrollment. Letting them know that it’s going to start in 4 or more weeks but that they can get the best price by enrolling now. This is a way to ensure that you’re creating for a live audience and that you get paid for your efforts.

In general, you only need to pre-sell your first online program. You can continue to survey your audience as you’re building out your products to make sure there is interest, but your previous successes will likely be enough for people to know that you’re going to take them to their objective.

So, let’s summarize — ask lots of questions and get in one on one conversations with your audience. Understanding the difference between incremental learning programs, specific results programs and exploratory programs is going to help you tremendously with positioning and standing out from other online art instructors and their programs.

Your audience is in your audience because you brought them in. Knowing what they want from you will help every step of the way to create what they are needing.

Let’s use my social media and this podcast as a quick example and then I encourage you to start having more conversations with your audience…

Why do you show up and listen to this podcast? What are you hoping to learn? Is listening on a weekly basis bringing you closer to your goal of expanding your business online? What about inside the Expand Online Community on Facebook? How is watching my live streams in there moving you forward? How is engaging with me on Instagram creating trust between you and me? Are you getting closer to seeing how you can truly expand your business online (with or without working with me)?

That’s the thing, I’m putting this content out on the podcast, on social media and in my emails because I want you to know that you can do this. Yes, I would love to work with you to make it easy from a logistics and tech perspective, but I’m giving first… and I know that when I ask the right questions and develop the right offers, that the right people are going to take action. And the same goes for you — when you put yourself in your audience’s shoes by having real conversations and getting their thoughts and feedback, you’re going to be able to serve at the highest level with your online offers.

Start asking questions. That’s your greatest opportunity.

And with that, I’m signing off. I’ll be back next week with an episode on growing your email list.

Go to https://expandonlinecommunity.com to join the conversation.

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