Darnell Brown has been using Teachable for nearly three years. The certified brand strategist and educator is the founder of Bulletproof Hustle. He offers his clients coaching and online courses to help them on their business journey, wherever they might be. So when the option to add digital downloads to his school became available he jumped at the opportunity.
“As of now, I’m a growth strategist and educator. And I give creative entrepreneurs, especially those who are time-pressed, the tools, clarity, and flexibility to do the work that moves them,” he said. While his work isn’t limited to entrepreneurs, he works with people who are at least similarly minded. People who have some hustle to what they do.
“I’m passionate about this audience. This is obviously a subset of an entrepreneurial type, who includes freelancers, and solopreneurs. But you’ve also got content creators, artists, digital marketers, anyone who’s creating things and is in business for themselves. I think would be classified as a creative entrepreneur,” he explained.
He’s passionate about helping those people, especially when they’re in times of stress or disorganization. He enjoys being the line between two points: The one where they are and the one where they’re trying to go.
Digital downloads and courses in one place
Even before Teachable started offering digital downloads, Darnell was using them as part of his business model. He hosted them elsewhere, so he would have to send his students to another site to access them. But with the new feature addition, he can make his school a one-stop-shop for his students.
Not only that but he can access all of his students and share those digital products with them directly. “My students are already on that platform. Right? These are people who have opted into my school already.” So they already know they like his products, and they’re already familiar with him as a creator. “I’ve got my whole student list right now. If I wanted to offer them a bonus right now, boom, it’s right there,” he said. Highlighting the benefits of being able to leverage his existing Teachable audience to upsell them or offer a bundle or bonus with his downloads.
Packing value into something as small as a download
It’s a real concern when considering whether to make digital downloads to sell: How do you create something valuable in something in something so small?
“From what I’ve learned over the years is that when it comes to things, such as digital downloads and lead magnets, depending on the transformation that you’re offering, that’s the starting point of it all.
“What is the result? What is the transformation that you are trying to provide?” he said. The same goes for your courses. Usually, with a course, you’re helping your students learn something new so that they can solve a problem or fill a need.
“You’re really kind of starting there with a problem to be solved, that you that you are uniquely positioned to to solve for someone. And I think when it comes to the value that you’re packing within it, you have to figure out, ‘Okay, well, what is this transformation is something that is, like what we call it a quick win? Or is this something that they’re going to have to work at for a while?’” he said. This should give you an idea of the format, the length, and some of the content that the digital download will require to hold value.
Darnell’s approach to downloads
The way he sees it, ‘A paid digital download should be more digestible, it should be lower hanging fruit,” he said, “That’s kind of how I use it.”
Part of what makes a download valuable is that it is something students can do more quickly than a whole course, or multiple coaching sessions. It saves them time which is valuable on its own.
With a download, “You’re going to get the transformation in a shorter period of time than you would like to of course because I’m designing it in a way that you can begin to apply it in a week, or sometimes within a day,” Darnell said. Then he follows up that download with a challenge, or some tips on implementing what the download taught, so that his students can integrate it as soon as possible with their current business approach. This method for his downloads is what he uses to balance the value of the product.
The best part of it all? “These things can work in tandem with your course. By bundling these two together, or offering it as paid supplemental material,” he said. That really makes it something that can take the course experience or what his students learned in his course to the next level. Or they can work as down sells and lead magnets. A way to get students interested and give them a taste of what a whole course might be like if they were to purchase it. The possibilities are flexible and can work to the creator’s advantage in a number of ways.
Watch Darnell’s interview below.
Read the transcript here:
Jonah Cohen 00:00
Let people know a little bit about you what your business is, and what kind of products you build. And also we talk a lot about transformation with creators was the transformation and the goal of your business and what you’re trying to help people achieve.
Darnell Brown 00:12
Yeah, so all great questions. My bio is always on a constant evolution is always morphing into what it needs to be in any given season, as of now, and it’s been this way for a while Jonah, I’m a growth strategist, and educator. And I give creative entrepreneurs, especially those who are time-pressed the tools, clarity, and flexibility to do the work that moves them. I’m passionate about this audience. This is obviously a subset of an entrepreneurial type, who includes freelancers, and solopreneurs. But you got like content creators, artists, letters, painters, digital marketers, anyone who’s creating things as a whole and is in business for themselves, I think would be classified as a creative entrepreneur. And then specifically, those who are going through a little bit of chaos in their business, especially when it comes to being time-pressed or their list having lists and things. So my work involves aiming to be the straightest line between two points where they are, where they’re trying to go and making the most efficient route as possible and kind of being the conduit, as well as the catalyst for for for getting over that hurdle. And making that transition successfully. And it’s a lot of work is it’s a very subjective experience it can seem and so the challenge I think, for all of us course creators is to find ways to systematize and create processes out of things that you are inherently a specialist on. So it’s not always as easy as that could. That could be especially when a lot of people come to us specifically for what it is that you have to offer. Making the transition into an educator and trying to make it more accessible. Trying to have a larger impact requires a strong degree of intentionality and purpose and testing and experimenting deciding how can I make this more and more digestible. How can I you know, leave this breadcrumb trail so that people know what they need to know at the natural and most organic step within their journey? And so that we’re respecting that that is done through a number of things, Jonah, hybrid programs, courses, of course, playbooks, guides, books, podcasting, blogging, sometimes it involves music and just strategy and ambiance and things to really create an environment where you can cultivate and continue to feed creativity, both for myself as well as the people that I work with, and the people I’m in business for,
Jonah Cohen 02:48
you have a very sobering perspective on it. And just very wise, you can be a specialist, but when you’re trying to teach that to people in a way that many different kinds of people will understand. It’s tricky. It’s really do you play music, you said music,
Darnell Brown 03:02
I need to lean into that and not have guilt. So I’m an artist. First and foremost, I always have been on my life. And one thing about the arts, when you are a student of the game, and you and you appreciate the arts, like you love it, and all of its forms, that includes music that includes performance arts, that includes culinary arts, like I can be watching a cooking show, and I can think about something for the course, by the way that a person describe something, or creating something that a person is going to salivate over with their eyes first before they taste it. And I’m like, I’m trying to do that with courses, like how to get you to salivate over the sales page for this before you actually take the course, man, I can go into a different tangent on that. But I love that. But this is great, because this is why I’m passionate about it. And this is why I got to this is why I bring in all of these different elements and influences from all of the arts, I often think about all these things in the arts. And I said, Well, this is a really, you know, it’s a passionate group of people and just creatives in general. But of course, creative entrepreneurs, because this is like two things that are at odds sometimes with one another, the creative and entrepreneurial side, right? We want to just create and do things, but you need to sell it, you have to figure out a way to make a living off it so that you continue to do more of it. You have to make those two things work together to be an ultimate success. And to continue that cycle Jonah where you can continue to do what you love doing, be paid handsomely for it, and leave the impact and fulfill and fulfill like yourself in your own creativity and your own dreams. As much as impacting the lives of others through your art. It’s a pursuit that it’d be like a lifetime probably and we’ll never be satisfied with our work. But how do we get to the point that we feel like it’s okay to hit publish on that. Yeah. And that you know, is good enough and just kind of respecting the process of it all and living in that
Jonah Cohen 04:59
era. Chad, something we’ve been talking a lot about at teachable and just a conversation in the in the greater field too, which is this balance of creator versus entrepreneur, if you have to kind of choose which one you identify with a little more, do you lean in one direction? Or do you think it’s impossible to avoid being a little bit of both?
Darnell Brown 05:19
That’s a great question. I think I think that entrepreneurship chooses you, you don’t choose it, like you might be a very, very much a person that’s kind of unemployable. For for a multitude of reasons, right? You could, you could not be a person that handles rejection Well, or, or criticism well, and so you, you have to design something that looks unlike any situation that you’ve ever been in before, because it’s like, either that or you go down a destructive path. So it becomes it becomes a choice, like the only choice at a certain point. But it’s a choice nonetheless, that’s a great question, I probably wouldn’t, I probably wouldn’t have to say, creator, that’s who I’ve been most of my life, including through now. And like, you know, creators, I feel like you had to come before an entrepreneur, in terms of that person probably existed forever, you have to create things that don’t yet exist anyway. And then I think the entrepreneur, the entrepreneur kind of came as a result of that, as probably a form of innovation. To a certain degree, once you have produced so much value that some someone is willing to exchange value to have more of you or to have more of what it is that you have been producing, Oh, I like so entrepreneurship, I feel like kind of chooses you. It kind of chooses you. Or it ends up feeling like the inevitable choice for your direction when it’s like, I mean, it’s an issue that you might scratch that you might satisfy. Or you’re going to be bugged by it for a while and always kind of live in with regrets. If you know, in your soul that, you know there’s a different path forward. And secondly, I’ve always just been a prisoner. As I’m thinking, I’m always thinking about responsibility and accountability in one’s life and being the driver in my own life, right not being a passenger. If I don’t like something, or I’m not going to endlessly complain about it, I’ll just be like, well, I’ll figure out a way to create the version of it, if it doesn’t exist. Like I’m gonna be ambitious in that way. Proud of that lean all the way into it. And just like you said, enjoy the process of it, there is no failure, but to have not tried anyway, that. So he’s always just feedback. It’s always just, there’s always just iteration. And as we talked about earlier, like, you got to find a way to have fun with it. So that’s the music or something, or through the ambiance that you create in your environment so that you are even like, man, if everything doesn’t work out, I have millions of hours of music that I can like, just sit and listen to and absorb. I can go like learn how to play an instrument or something, there’s always something else to be doing. If one thing doesn’t work out, yeah, wonderful thing
Jonah Cohen 08:00
I love. That’s how I want to ask you because even just the hints of how you think about it, it’s not a one versus the other. When you go in, you turn that into products, and you take the creator and you you want to help people or offer the joy you have in that other people and create a structure and you go and build products. How do you do that? And then also it at this point in your business? What Kind Of Products Do you have? And what purpose do they serve?
Darnell Brown 08:27
Yeah, so the how we answer the how before the wet, I think there are good systems in place and, and guides just in terms of how to like, kind of monetize either your knowledge or your skill set. You know, we talking about online courses being the most evident way of doing that as it continues to be on the rise for so many reasons. For both the creators and for the students that’s largely to house is figuring out a way to design like what you envision not only your life looking like but the impact that you want to leave after the fact. And it is always this strong element of really just living on purpose and being on purpose and being just highly kind of self-aware in that way and saying well, is is this in alignment with what I would what I want to be doing. I have surveyed a lot of creative entrepreneurs. One of my surveys is asking them like things that they’re struggling with and what did they secretly want the most out of their career trying to get these insights and stuff from them and there are these certain throughlines. The big thing that I learned was like impact mattered a lot to like creative entrepreneurs. Actually, that was that was hands down the common denominator. Impact means something different to you, every one of us I think that like the baseline definition is like this ability to to do more than you are doing or to have it affect more people, or a significant subset of people or for a cause, or something that you’re passionate about, then what you are currently doing. And so you always feel like you can be doing more, and you would, if you could, you know, like, like earn a earn of really good living doing what you love doing, like you would do more of that, like, how can I create a process out of this? Like, how do I make this more accessible? How do I create an easier entry point into what it is that who I’m about and what it is that I have to offer and be always thinking about that you’re trying to be with someone or serve your audience in a way that they are supposed to grow with you, but they’re entering you at all different, you know, phases of, of like, they they’re know, like and trust factor when it comes to you. So you got the coldest audience that comes in with a bunch of reservations have may have spent a bunch of money on other courses and things didn’t work out. And so they’re like really reluctant, but they might be a creative entrepreneur, and you got people on the opposite end who just like get it immediately. They’re all in there, like, you know, they were Pat Flynn calls like super fans and stuff. And all of those people in between. And I will say the last, the last part of that how you have to have an obsession, you have to you have to be as obsessed with it like, and nobody can teach you that you just have to care enough about something right? Your passion must be super, super driven and must come from an honest place. That’s how I do it is I create what I would have needed at that point in time and in the way that I would have liked to receive the information is a person that’s easy to imagine, I think all of us can do that. We can remember who we were Yeah, that’s that’s my how of it all is how do I be what I needed, what I needed before. And kind of time traveling your mind and go the opposite direction to when you when you have when you use foresight when you are thinking about things that you want to create in the future. But creating them today for for like who you already are now, even though you know that that course isn’t going to come out for like months from now. But you’re doing work at this point. So you’re always doing some level of time traveling at least kind of in your mind with things. And I think that I think all of us do that, even if we don’t realize that oh, so and yeah, and the other part of your question was the what you were talking about the what of it, but the products that I’m offering hybrid programs, courses, webinars, presentations and things like I get to combine like what I love about graphic design, and then like write all your own materials and kind of have it be in your own voice and things. So I have several products always out and in many different times. Because you want to be reaching people in different ways and figuring out ways to continue to nurture them continue to be a resource and more than one way. And it forces you to flex your muscles and helps you grow as an artist and as a creative as well to when you can bounce around in these in these different contexts and plot. Yeah,
Jonah Cohen 12:53
well, it’s so how do you use digital downloads? Whether they’re ebooks or guides in your business? Do you use them for lead magnets? Do you have ones that you charge for? How do they fit into your business from a more like structural product ladder or financial standpoint? And then how do you solve a problem in such a small product? And how do you wrap your head around making something that’s small and compact, but still has an impact?
Darnell Brown 13:20
Great questions? I think I’ll answer the last part first, from what I’ve learned over the years, Joan, is that when it comes to things such as digital downloads and lead magnets to a certain degree, depending on the transformation that you’re offering, that’s the what that’s like the starting point of it all is what is the result? What is the transformation that you’re trying to provide? Same exact thing with courses, same exact question, you’re really kind of starting there with a problem to be solved, that you that you are uniquely positioned to solve for someone, when it comes to the value that you’re packing within it, you have to figure out is this transformation something that is like well, we call it a quick win? Or is this something that they’re going to have to work at for a while? And is this meant to like kind of be a 50 page type of lead magnet for us. So the transformation should be guiding what this ends up becoming and how big that this digital download needs to become. I think in most instances, especially with the amount of information that we have out digital downloads give you an opportunity to kind of almost be like the anti-course even though it’s meant to work in conjunction with it in the sense of if your course is longer. With sections and lectures, perhaps a lead magnet even a even as a paid digital download should be more digestible. It should be a lower-hanging fruit. That’s kind of how I use it. And so I’m thinking about, okay, the value that’s within it. Well, the inherent value within it is that you’re going to be able to get through this quickly. It is not going to take you much time and you’re going to get the transformation In a short period of time, then you would like do a course, because I’m designing it in a way that you can begin to apply it like inside of a week. Sometimes within a day, like you can consume this within 1530 minutes. And then I’m gonna hit you with a challenge or something or some tips so that you can begin to practice that in your life. And these things can work in tandem with your course by bundling these two together or like it being supplemental material. Right. And I think that’s of course, great is we know that the teachable platform has had areas in there where you can, you can insert downloadables, like within each lecture model. And so now you can take, for instance, your handouts that were available in there, package those all together, and it can become its own thing, right? You can, you can make like the Quickstart version of your course even as, as a very, very attractive, like, lead magnet as well, too. Okay, you don’t, you don’t have time to take this eight week course or something. Here’s the Quickstart version of it. Here’s the version of it, like when you get that new vacuum, and it’s like, you’re human, this is the version like you ready to apply something manual? Yeah, Quickstart like, and that’s, that’s no new material that you have to create actually, like that would be, I probably will do that. And I didn’t have that idea, actually, until just now, like I have so many downloadables within my courses, just put all that stuff together, create a quickstart version of every course I ever created, that’d be awesome. That’s how I would use it personally, Jonah is what does a digital download offer me that a course doesn’t. And that would be one of the more immediate things like a course is not usually something that especially a pay course, Jonah that you can digest within a single day process which you need to know do your homework as a student for it and get the transformation promise that the course is delivering, like within a single setting. But a lead magnet could a digital download could theoretically either by becoming the Quickstart version, like we just talked about, of what eight courses, or by having a higher level of transformation that is a little bit more industry agnostic. And so something that you can do that is not your full course but is perhaps like the first chapter of what your course is, or the first, you know, lecture kind of dives into something regarding that on a course for instance, and you’re able to provide a transformation whereas they can say oh, you know, Jonah, he produced his lead magnet he promised that this lead magnet was going to do I did get this result I’ve tested it it worked I’m starting to know like and trust this guy subconsciously they’re thinking that they don’t they don’t talk in those terms. But subconsciously that starts to happen. And then they say okay, well yeah Joan is somebody I can trust like he he did what he said was gonna do it this was everything I thought it would be best that’s the value of it right the value is in the transformation and how I think quickly that can be derived when it’s in a digital download form that opportunities for me that was the other part of your your question Jonah, several men several, it’s a way to give high level as I said industry agnostic kind of value at a lower price point for sure. Because there are the more than likely always going to be lower than my course costs, lower hanging fruit, this is less risky for you to get this then like if you don’t know me that well then to do one on one consulting or something like that, or coaching, right? It’s a way to nurture my audience as well. Like through the allure of a lower priced offer so you making it irresistible and something that is hard to refuse and kind of the allure of that I use it also as a way John it’s a qualify and attract leads so that I can know what it is they need more of right? So if I have several digital downloads, what’s converting the most? Why is this converting more than others? What feedback can I draw from my audience and learn that Well, man, out of five of these, you know, one of these is concerning, is converting 37% more than the other. Perhaps my next course should be like the organic next step for what that lead magnet was like, because that already has that’s a hot lead magnet right there. That’s a hot product. I could be going more in that direction. Also Gemini it’s a way to test out several things at a with with like, way less, way less effort, I would say and see again what like what’s connecting with the most people of course as an additional revenue stream that’s always smart, smart entrepreneurship and I think anyone any any of the goats that you and I respect multiple income streams for sure. I mean, it’s one of the only ways to really like Grow, grow to wealth. And to be in front of people without you having to be in front of them possibly be earning money in your sleep like the law of all of those. I use it in the opposite way too as a down sell. Jonah, so you land on a high ticket offer page that’s not for you. Okay, well, maybe this will work or something for you then instead like maybe this will be more within your range. Because either I have and done an effective enough job Jonah at conveying the value of whatever I’m like whatever the upsell was, or whatever is the higher ticket offer, that prospect shouldn’t have seen that in their buyers journey. So I gotta like work on that a little bit. But you can always use a digital download as, as a down sell. If something else doesn’t work for a person, I’ve had many scenarios join where like, my one on one stuff didn’t work for people, they wanted to push that out for months, because like holiday season, for instance, like when now. But here’s some advice that I could offer you at a lower price point, obviously, the proximity to myself is going to be way different. Because you know, that’s an evergreen product, that’s not something that I need to touch. So I can, I can make that lower for you. And then keep that advice a little bit more high level, very digestible by high level when you really want the specifics, then we got to best when it’s time to get into a course or some cohort, some cohorting or something. And then finally, I use digital downloads as evergreen opportunities, right? So thinking of bundles, and bonuses, how can I add more inherent value for things that I’ve already produced? Just like we said, I had this idea during this call with us, I can credit you just by osmosis, for helping come up with this idea of saying, well, so how can how can I look at a course of something that created or blog posts and say, Well, can I package this up into? Can I pass package this up into a digital download? Can I create a series of videos or something that will work? Well for people that can be put into a PDF format, perhaps to educate people to sell your knowledge, so to speak, there’s so many different ways to do it, and to see what it is that people like of you, and how you show up? And so those Yeah, I just gave you like, yeah, in a ways that that downloads offer me a lot. I
Jonah Cohen 21:49
love that and especially the using it as a tool to test your efforts to kind of before you just go in assume that you know what people want? Do they want it? You know, do or do they want to in that way with that title with that name? Now that you have a product on teachable? Do you feel there’s an advantage? Or do you recognize advantages to having your digital downloads in the same place as your courses or your coaching or having it package together?
Darnell Brown 22:19
Yes, because my students are already on that platform, right? So that’s different from your email list. These are these are people that have opted in to your university or your school like structure of things. So they’re like really, they’re really like, looking at you. Any of us course creators Jonah as as educators, right as leaders and stuff for them. So I like I like one stop shop solutions, I like having things all in one place, when when that is an option, it is sensible to have a place where you got Okay, now, okay, boom, I could do my coaching here. Now, I got my downloads in one place. And I can do the courses, plus bundle all of this stuff up together in a nice, neat package way with students who have already bought in to the experience and transformations that I’m delivering. That’s a wonderful thing. Like I don’t like the burden of jumping back and forth between multiple platforms and to be able to like you got your whole student list right now, if you want to offer them a bonus right now, because it’s the holidays or something, it’s like, boom, it’s right there now is now it’s just it’s easy to do it in that way to offer value to your existing students, as well as attract new ones into your ecosystem,
Jonah Cohen 23:34
given joy or plan to utilize digital downloads more even just from the more transactional nature. Because courses can take a lot of if you’re doing cohort, or even just answering questions and stuff is like it can be a lot. It can be a life style, you didn’t predict if you just thought I will be a creator.
Darnell Brown 23:54
Yeah, and that’s the thing. That’s the thing, I 1,000%. Because it’s certain things that I like that I like to put in that format is certain ways to deliver information and kind of like the page by page process and how much information a person is seeing on each page. And then there’s the design element of it and you kind of guiding the eye. And it’s we’re all storytellers, right. So you’re still telling a story and you hope to hold the attention. So just like you said, of course it’s take a lot more time. I love Jonas starting out with the big idea with the big transformation and then parsing that out into like milking that for all it’s worth. So this high-level transformation, and then you are creating all of this content around this and Sam well, okay, yeah, digital download social media reels, stories, blogs, is so much that you can do around that topic. This is the process for a different type of win that organically feeds into this larger one that you know that you really want. And I don’t know why you’re here playing games, but I’m gonna entice you. I’m gonna entice you You’re not gonna be able to take it. So again, we respect the journey, we gotta respect the journey. So it’s like everything you earn is just, it’s always a cherry on top. Because your validation and your confidence comes from the fact that you did it, it was the fact that you hit publish, even if no one shows up. But like you said, at the beginning of this call, you don’t want to be creating this big old course that nobody ends up wanting, that’s like the wrong way to do it. So for sure, if digital downloads were available on teachable three years ago, I would have went that route before creating my first course, I probably wouldn’t have 10 of those out. Now I’m coming at it from the other angle, I’ll be producing digital downloads. And the first thing I’ll do is be bringing the downloads in that I have elsewhere first, and then for my new ones, I’ll just house them there pretty much exclusively after that point, because again, that school atmosphere, which is a different group, then your email list, because some of those people have never got anything from you. Nor do they want to be perhaps even educated in that way. And so
Jonah Cohen 26:03
that’s cool. Yeah. Thank you so much, Darnell. And before we wrap up, can you just let people know where to find you? Where’s the best place to follow you to continue to be involved? Learn more about you?
Darnell Brown 26:13
Yeah, you can learn about me at Darnell brown.com dar n e. L. Brown, like the color.com that’s the place that’s my main hub. That’s where you can find out about me you can find all my social links there as well too. I’m just trying to give you one link to leave you with. I got freebies got courses got playbooks got several different ways to, to add transformations in your life and new results to you. So hit me up on there. And check out my podcast bulletproof hustle with Darnell Brown as well it seems to be coming out next year. And yeah, let me help you with some growth strategies and you’re a creative,
Jonah Cohen 26:53
I love it. Thank you so much. Darnell, we’ll see you soon. Pleasure having you.