This is an interview with Krista Dickson.
Hey, Krista. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hey! Thanks so much for having me. My name is Krista Dickson and I run kristadickson.com. I help women entrepreneurs scale their businesses with online courses so that they can help more people, work less hours, and make more money.
On a personal note, I’m a big fan of 80s music, I love all things Harry Potter, and I rock a messy bun 24/7.
What’s the timeline of your online businesses so far?
I’ve been in business since 2016, but I originally started out as a Blog Coach and a Pinterest Manager.
I launched my first ever online course in June 2016. Since then, I’ve created 12 courses, launched over two-dozen times, and worked with more than 6,000 amazing students.
In 2020, I pivoted my business to focus solely on teaching other entrepreneurs how to create and sell online courses, and I’ve never felt happier or more fulfilled!
When did you become passionate about creating courses and what was the first program you launched?
Ever since I started my business, I knew that I wanted to create courses. I’ve always loved teaching (I used to force my sister to play “school” with me when we were younger and I was always the teacher).
I also knew that 1:1 client work probably wasn’t super sustainable for me in the long run. As someone who’s struggled with chronic health issues over the last few years, devoting 40+ hours a week to my business isn’t always feasible for me.
What I love most about online courses is that with a course, I can create the content once and then continue selling it for years to come without a ton of additional work.
The very first course I ever created was called “WordPress in a Weekend” and it helped beginner bloggers set up their WordPress websites in a single weekend. It was actually a pretty good course! I don’t sell it anymore because it doesn’t align with my current niche, but it was my first taste of the course-creation world (and clearly, I was hooked).
It wasn’t until early 2017 that I had my first five-figure course launch, so it took me over six months to make that happen.
With that said, I see so many course creators give up on their courses waaaay too early, instead of letting their businesses gain momentum over time (which is when the big launches start happening). Give it time and don’t give up!
When and why did you rebrand and pivot in your business?
I just recently rebranded my business to the name “Krista Dickson”, having originally opened my business under the name “Blog Beautifully”.
That name worked well when my target audience was bloggers, but I eventually outgrew it. It was May of this year (2020) when I made the full shift to focusing my business on course creation and launching.
How have you grown your readership over the years?
My main source of traffic to my website has always been Pinterest, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise since I mentioned that I used to be a Pinterest Manager.
I loooove Pinterest! With a small amount of work, you can drive thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of viewers to your website every month (for reference, I probably spend about 2-3 hours/month working on Pinterest).
Collaborations have been another amazing source of growth for me. Things like:
- Joint-venture webinars
- Participating in online course bundles
- Being interviewed on other people’s websites and podcasts
These collaborations have mainly stemmed from the relationships I’ve built and nurtured with the people in my community.
Business is not a solo game, and the time you put into connecting with other entrepreneurs in your industry will be so worth it, I promise.
Read also: How I Increased Traffic by 778% in 2 Months with Pinterest
How are your online sales strategies different from those of other entrepreneurs?
I have some pretty strong opinions about the best ways to create and make money with online courses. For instance, I always recommend that the first time you create a brand-new course, you launch the course first and then create the course content afterwards.
This is called pre-selling and it allows you to validate the topic, messaging, and price point of your course before you spend months and months creating the course content (only to find out that nobody wants it—which happens sometimes!).
I also personally like to blend intuitive business strategy with a more practical approach. I’m a pretty Type-A person, so I’m all for a good checklist and I love my day planner.
However, I always let my intuition lead the way in my business, whether I’m creating a new course, deciding on an investment, writing my sales copy, anything. And to this day it’s never steered me wrong!
You’ve had 5-figure launches without even a sales page. How did that work?
Yes! I love doing super low-key, laidback launches. This comes with practice, and it might not be feasible for your first ever course launch. But just know that it can be done.
For example, last year I launched a new program called the $5K Club. At the time, it was a small group coaching program with limited spots available. I didn’t create a sales page for the program—just a short audio clip explaining what it was about, who it was for, and how to get signed up.
I sent out a few emails to my list, had some great conversations via Instagram DMs, and by the end of the launch, the spots were sold out and I’d made over $10K.
If you’re curious, I have a blog post and podcast episode breaking down this specific launch strategy and how I did it! You can check that out here.
How much are you currently earning and in what ways?
I’m on track to have a six-figure year in 2020, and my monthly income is currently hovering around the $10K mark.
Over 90% of my business revenue comes from sales of my courses and group programs.
The only other way I generate income is through affiliate marketing, and my affiliate income is anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per month.
What percentage of your revenue comes from your email list?
I’d say the vast majority! I don’t have a specific number off the top of my head, because I know there’s a lot of overlap between my email list subscribers and social media following, but I’d definitely credit my email list as my #1 source of revenue.
The other main way I promote my offerings is on Instagram, and I see a decent number of sales come from there as well.
In my experience, it’s best to have a “double-whammy” approach—meaning your potential customers follow you on Instagram and are subscribed to your email list.
Then they’re getting all of your best content, seeing your face and hearing your voice on IG Stories every day, and they’re much more likely to purchase your offerings.
Tell us more about your email marketing course, The Hot List.
The Hot List is one of my favorite courses I’ve ever created!
I quickly realized that not having an email list is a big hang-up for a lot of new course creators, and something that stops them from having the success they want, so I set out to create a program to solve that problem.
However, The Hot List doesn’t just help people start their email lists; it also helps them create irresistible freebies to grow their list, send binge-worthy newsletters to engage their subscribers, and even start generating revenue with their email list through tripwire products, launches, and sales funnels.
Essentially, it’s an all-in-one system for entrepreneurs who want to build a profitable email list. It’s a lot of my students’ favorite courses and one they refer back to time and time again as their businesses grow.
What do most people get wrong about email marketing?
Ooo this is a juicy question. Here are the top mistakes I see entrepreneurs make:
- Starting an email list but then not sending any emails to their subscribers for months at a time (hint: choose a designated day of the week to be your “newsletter day” and stick to it).
- Creating freebies that are all information and not enough action. Make sure each freebie is super actionable and helps your subscribers achieve a small win.
- Crappy subject lines. If you don’t intrigue people or indicate the value of what’s inside your email, most people won’t open it. #toughlove
- Being afraid to sell their offerings. That’s what your email list is there for! Yes, you should be providing lots of value before asking for the sale — but if you aren’t ever asking for the sale, your email list isn’t actually an asset to your business, it’s just an expense with no R.O.I.
What are the first steps to creating a high-converting email sales funnel?
The first two things to focus on before you even get to the “selling” part of a sales funnel are:
- Creating an irresistible opt-in freebie
- Driving traffic to the landing page for your freebie
Your freebie serves as the entry point to your email funnel, so it’s super important that you get these two steps locked-down before setting up the actual funnel itself.
Like I mentioned earlier, I love using Pinterest to drive traffic. All you have to do is create 4-5 eye-catching pins for your opt-in freebie and then start sharing those pins all over Pinterest. Tailwind is a great tool to help you do this.
From there, you’ll write a series of 5-10 emails that work your potential customer towards purchasing your offer.
It’s also important to add some kind of time-sensitive incentive, like a bonus or a special discount, to instill a sense of urgency . You can use Deadline Funnel to set up this time-sensitive incentive inside your funnel.
What do your clients and students struggle with the most?
The first thing that comes to my mind actually isn’t strategy-related. It’s confidence. Confidence to create their first course, confidence to send emails to their list, confidence to promote their offerings. It’s a killer!
And while I do think confidence naturally grows over time, the one thing I always tell my students is that confidence is BUILT, not bestowed.
In other words, you aren’t just going to wake up one day and suddenly have Lizzo-level confidence. That’s not the way it works, as much as I wish it was.
Instead, confidence is built through action. The more you show up, share your stuff, and do the big scary things in your business, the more confident you become. Why? Because action creates results, and results build confidence.
So go do the dang thing! Even if it feels scary. Especially if it feels scary. The only person who can hold you back from building the business of your dreams is you.
Read also: Freelancer vs Blogger vs Course Creator: Which Business Model is Right for You?
What are the tools your online business can’t run without?
Here are some of my must-have favorites:
- ConvertKit for email marketing
- Teachable for hosting my online courses
- Squarespace for my website
- Basil & Bark design templates
- Audio-Technica ATR2100 microphone for recording podcast episodes and course lessons
- Asana for organizing my business and managing my team members
What’s your advice for aspiring course creators?
If I had to drill down to my top 3 pieces of advice, they would be:
#1. Just start. Don’t worry about making your course perfect. Your first time around, it won’t be perfect, and that’s okay! Courses are meant to grow and evolve over time.
#2. Invest in a good microphone for recording your lessons. It makes a world of difference.
#3. When choosing a topic for your course, make sure it’s a topic that your audience is actually willing to pay for (not just a topic that you’re passionate about). The best way to do this is by launching your course first, accepting students, and then creating the course content and drip-releasing one module at a time.
What’s next for you and your business?
In my personal life, I’m having a baby! My little girl is due in December, so I’ll be spending the next few months getting my business ready for maternity leave.
My goal is to set up as many streams of passive income as possible before she arrives so that I can take as much time off as I need to.
I’m also just about to relaunch my podcast, which I’m super excited about. By the time you’re reading this, it might already be live! If so, you can check out my most recent episodes here on iTunes.
You can follow Krista on Instagram and grab her free Course Launch Checklist here.