When a money-making idea strikes, sometimes the best road towards making it a success is patience.
Shayna de Oliveira is one of those online entrepreneurs that has bucket loads of patience. Her online English teaching empire Espresso English took years to come into fruition, but it was because of this slow development that she was able to create a business model that works.
Shayna was originally born and raised in the U.S, but now happily resides in Brazil working as an online English educator selling eCourses, books and monthly lesson subscriptions to non-native English speakers.
So what’s the big deal you may ask? Well, her website gets over a million hits a month of organic online traffic.
For any teacher wanting to move their business online, the one thing you’re probably asking is, “How did she do it?”
On a recent episode of The Anomalous Educator podcast, she talked me through the initial stages of her business that carried her to where she is today.
It’s a Process – so Take it Slow
Usually, new entrepreneurs are looking to instantly pack in their current job, make it big and turn a profit overnight – unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen that way.
Shayna’s product that you see today took years to manifest, “I only went fulltime online, probably about three and a half years into it,” she explains, and even now, she still feels there’s room for bigger growth.
In the beginning, Shayna started her website after one of her time-poor learners who kept missing lessons, asked if she could send what was taught that day to her by email.
It was here that Shayna had a lightbulb moment and soon realized that she could reach a lot more people this way. On the bumpy bus journey home each day, she wrote and published the lessons on her new blog for everyone to access.
“Eventually, I started getting some traffic from other people who were searching for the topics and finding my blog.”
The slow first year meant she straddled working between two jobs and didn’t want to commit fully to working purely online until she knew that it was manageable and lucrative – which is something all new online entrepreneurs should consider.
Although at this initial stage she wasn’t earning via her online work, she had accumulated a cache of email addresses from her site visitors that would be used as a marketing tool for her eCourses and other learning materials later.
Transition from Free to Paid by Testing the Market
When you get the marketing and processes right for your online courses, you may be able to generate a generous steady income.
“In the beginning, I was just publishing these free blog posts,” Shayna explained but she knew that in order to make this a full-time option, she needed to make her efforts pay.
Six months into her venture, she tested the waters to see if she could sell a downloadable product. Using her notes, blog posts and older lesson plans, she designed the eBook “100 Common Errors In English.”
“I wrote it in Microsoft Word, saved it as a PDF and then I emailed my email list,” Shayna laughed, and although it wasn’t a smash hit right away, the feedback and small sales proved that with the right level of time, effort and persistence, turning online materials into paid eCourses can be a lucrative option.
Testing the waters before going in for the big leap is the wisest way to work. You can begin to weigh up which aspects do and don’t work, so you’re not focusing your energy in the wrong place.
Use Micro-Tasking to Keep Things Moving
In the early days, Shayna was often sapped for time, “I was short on time because of my three jobs,” she reminisced, “what I would do in the early days is I would work in snippets.”
Her bus journey home would be the perfect time to fit in some blog post writing, “if I had 15 minutes I would just try to come up with three new post ideas and then I’d put it away,” then bring them back out during her downtime, to pad these ideas up a bit.
“Later when I went more full time, I was able to put in more hours,” so she was able to dig in and generate more focused work.
Micro-tasking is the perfect way to keep things moving at initial stages of a business, particularly if you have a family to manage or multiple time-consuming commitments to contend with.
To get more useful tips on starting an eCourse business listen to the full conversation with Shayna de Oliveira here.