How I Sell Online Courses That Make 7 Figures In One Year

  • Mark Webster quit his job at an insurance company after realizing the job was boring.
  • He then went on a trip – he met his future partner in a bar in Singapore.
  • Here’s how they run a business that generates seven figures per yearas told to Amber Sunner.

This narrated essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Mark Webster, a 36-year-old man from Aberdeen, Scotland, about scaling his online course business to make seven figures. It has been edited for length and clarity. Insider verified Webster’s earnings with documentation.

When I was 13, I would buy Pokémon cards in bulk and start trading with the kids in my neighborhood. I would then sell the higher value cards at car trunk sales. This is how I got my first taste for business.

I studied business at university and after graduating in 2007 I went to work for an insurance company in Southampton, England. I immediately saw how miserable the people who worked there were and thought, “Do I want my life to be like this?

I stayed at work for 18 months. After receiving my first bonus, I quit.

I decided to go on a trip to Southeast Asia.

In a bar in Singapore, a friend introduced me to Gael, my future partner. Gael was an intern at an SEO company there. We quickly discovered that we were both on our way to Kuala Lumpur, another city in Malaysia.

We went there together and became friends.

One night we were together and I mentioned that I was building a website for my mom’s friend. Gaël offered to do the referencing. We realized that we could start a business with our common skills. We bought a domain and started our first business, Higher Click, in late 2010. It was an SEO and website building agency.

We spent a few hundred pounds on software and tools. We had continued to travel and were in Budapest at the time of incorporation, so we decided to move to Hungary.

In our first year, we grew our customer base from zero to 80 customers

Between 2010 and 2015, when we sold the company, we made a lot of mistakes.

Gael and I aren’t really human people, so it was hard for us to make sales. Referrals from satisfied customers helped us reach our all-time high of 300 customers, but the customer turnover rate was very high.

The business became unprofitable. We hired too many people too quickly. It’s easy to hire people, but it’s hard to do it well. We started thinking about selling the business in 2015.

We were introduced to a small business broker and ended up selling Higher Click that year for six figures.

We took stock of our previous failures and refocused our business model.

Our knowledge of SEO, website building and clickable links was more profitable for entrepreneurs than providing it as a service. We started a new business by educating other entrepreneurs on how to build their own website domains at different stages of growth.

Authority Hacker, our new business, started as a blog where we shared cool digital marketing ideas and tactics

We monetized the blog by reviewing the software and tools we used. We also received small affiliate commissions.

We started to see traction for our content and created a training course that people could buy for more exclusive, hands-on SEO and domain building knowledge.

A year later, we’ve narrowed our business focus to building mailing lists, a useful way for a small business to generate sales. We created a mini-series on this specific topic for $9 that focused on opt-in pop-ups. We then created a $297 premium version that focused on doubling email leads.

We introduced it to people on our own mailing list that we had created, and it was very popular.

Seeing an opportunity, we set out to grow our reputation as an online training academy for building profitable websites.

The courses are a series of videos and presentations that are all digital.

We offer courses for beginners, called The Authority Site System 3.0, which range in price from $600 to $1,000. Our course for people who already have a website or blog they want us to work on costs $2,500.

We have been fully remote since 2015, so our costs are low. It is cheaper to spend money on equipment that our staff may need than to rent an office.

We learned from our previous mistakes and kept our team as small as possible. We have reached over 10,000 customers in 138 countries with just six full-time employees and 12 freelancers.

One of the biggest challenges is updating courses

Sometimes we save a course and by the time we are done editing it, one of the tools on the website it refers to has changed its interface. It’s a battle. The authority site system is populated every two years.

Although we are now making seven figures a year, we are still a relatively small player in our industry. There are companies 30 times bigger than us, and that motivates us to be better.

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