Teachable really is treating us! Yet another podcast diving into the lives of successful Teachable course owners, allowing us to learn from their experiences… Good and bad!
This week we were learning about the world of self-publishing from Mark Dawson. As you can imagine, he’s been quite successful in writing and publishing his own books, with 20 now released under his own publication leading to 20 million copies being downloaded! Mark is also now a podcaster, author and of course, a Teachable course owner.
So, how did this happen? As a child Mark was always interested in reading and, when he was a teenager, he wrote his first-ever novella with the help of a school teacher. Though Mark admits that this wasn’t some of his best work, he remembers this as the moment he caught the bug for writing.
Mark got a job as a lawyer when he left school but continued to write. He got his first book deal quite easily but was disappointed and disheartened when his first two books flopped with hardly any sales. He states that the publisher didn’t market the books and recalls a time where he walked into a book store to see his book on the bottom self — not great if you want to get your books sold. After this, he was dropped by his publishers and couldn’t get another book deal because of his bad record.
Mark stopped writing at 29 until moving to a job in the media where a work colleague informed him that he has had success from self-publishing through Amazon. Mark stated that he enjoyed the thought of there being no middle man and that he could be in control of the process from start to finish.
In 2012 Mark got back into writing and brought out The Black Mile through self-publishing with Kindle. He states that almost immediately he could tell the difference, with people leaving reviews for his book and getting emails from readers. His first cheque from Amazon was just $12, but this was enough to prove to Mark that he could go out and do it himself, he just needed a little more training on marketing.
Mark started to investigate how he could market his books more effectively (spoiler alert — this helped him massively with not just his book sales, but also his Teachable course sales). When asked how he conducted his research, Mark states that he joined a forum full of other self-published authors, but also looked at how other industries were selling other digital products online. Wherever digital marketing was discussed, Mark was there reading it and guess what? It worked! In January 2014 Mark was selling enough books to match his monthly income of $3,000 at his London media job and promised that if he sustained his success for 12 months, he would quit his job and started writing full time.
Mark put a lot of his success down to Facebook ads (though he admits it was a lot easier to sell using this method at that time). He states that he spent a lot of money and made a lot of mistakes at first with Facebook ads, but with every mistake, he learnt more and more and eventually, he was spending $1,000 a day on advertising and getting $4,000 back!
In November 2014 Mark quit his job and was earning $24,000 a month.
So, what does this success have to do with Teachable? Well, remember the spoiler alert before? Mark utilised everything that he has learnt about digital marketing for his books and used it to market his self publishing Teachable course.
Mark set up 2 core courses and invested a lot of money into them, though he states that you do not have to do this to be successful in the online course game. The first course is the bread and butter of self-publishing, whilst the second he describes as ‘rocket fuel’ and teaches the ins and outs of Facebook marketing for self-published authors.
But how did he make them the success they are today? With 10,000 students, it’s something that a lot of course creators can only dream of. Mark states that one of the main reasons for his success is the ability to be able to target your advertising on Facebook to reach people who will actually be interested in your product. Mark also credits his podcast for bringing students through his Teachable door. A free podcast allows the listeners to know that you understand what you’re talking about and when people have this trust, the sales start increasing. He also states that mailing lists are extremely important and advises that you utilise a lead magnet to get people interested and signed up to your emails (Blog post explaining how to do this here).
Another key aspect that Mark feels made his courses so successful was that they always delivered value. He is constantly updating courses to keep up with the ever-changing world of digital marketing and Facebook ads. He also states that if you sign up to his course, you’re in there for life, so you can go back and revisit anything you need, whenever you want. Mark also added that to get ahead, you need to be a good person — reply to emails, communicate with your students about what they want from your courses, listen to constructive criticism. He believes that this brings the one type of marketing that you can’t buy but is the most effective — word of mouth.
Here at Reachable, we really do believe that Mark is a great example of how research into digital marketing can really help to accelerate your business, whatever you sell.
We wish Mark and his students all the luck in the world with their future plans.