One question I’m always trying to answer is: “How can you make more with your online course?” The simple answer is to raise the price of your course. But to justify that price bump, you’ll need to increase the course’s value.
There are two obvious ways to do that:
- Improve the production quality. You could record live demos for your tutorials instead of relying on screenshots.
- Add valuable content. You can add bonus content that helps people achieve their goals in the course.
Improving the production quality can be costly and time consuming, whereas adding valuable content is often simpler for you and more valuable for your students.
In this post, I’m going to show you how interviewing authorities for your course can allow you to charge premium pricing and earn more money from your course sales.
- Why you should interview authorities for your online course
- How to determine the value an interview will add to your course
- How to find authorities to interview (and get them to say “yes”)
- Tips for structuring your interview to get the most out of it
Why include an interview with an authority?
Including authority interviews in your course builds trust with your audience, increases your reach, and allows you to charge more for your course—without investing too much of your time.
When you interview an expert, you can use language like this in your marketing: “But don’t just take my word for it, this super cool and important person in our field agrees.” Including advice from someone who is already respected means some of that good reputation trickles down to you. Basically, it makes you look legit and that allows you to charge more.
And when an authority is featured in your course, they’re likely to promote it, sending their highly qualified audience straight to you.
In addition, it allows you to add more value without doing a lot of research and content creation. It can be way quicker to interview an expert than create a brand new resource from scratch, especially if you’re new to the topic.
How much value can an interview add?
This is a tough question because it depends on several factors.
- Does the expert have a course of their own?
- How large is their fanbase?
- Do they do a ton of interviews? (Is this exclusive?)
- Is it a video interview or a text interview?
- How much does the expert charge for their own resources?
Really, the value could range from $20 extra dollars to a few hundred extra dollars just depending on exactly who it is you’re interviewing, and how highly your audience values their opinion.
Use your best judgement in deciding just how much influence your authority has and how much people would be willing to spend to get their perspective.
Keep in mind, for your course most of the value should still be coming from you. The authority adds an extra layer of value but they shouldn’t be the key to doubling or tripling your pricing.
If I were creating a blogging course I would try to interview my favorite bloggers and a few key players in the industry who may not necessarily be “the names,” but still have some clout.
For example, if I were able to interview Amber Fillerup, a blogger with millions of followers, I could probably add an extra $150 on the price tag of my course.
If I were only interviewing a campaign manager at my favorite blogging network it’d be valuable, but it wouldn’t have the same impact my hypothetical interview with Amber would have. I’d probably only tack on an extra $25 to the price for that.
Finding authorities to interview
It’s likely that you already know who the top dogs in your niche are. These are the people that smaller influencers are constantly talking about and the ones who are featured in publications. And they probably inspired you to start your business or create your course.
When you begin your hunt for influencers, start with who you know. The big names may be harder to nail down for an interview, but they’re also going to be the ones that you can build the biggest buzz around.
If you strike out finding a huge influencer in your niche willing to do an interview, then you can start investigating to find the next tier of influencers in your niches.
Finding influencers on social media
Social media is the obvious place to turn when looking for influencers, because no matter the niche, the most influential people will be on social media somewhere. If you don't already know who the major players are in your niche, social media will be a good place to start.
Depending on what niche you’re in, the social platform you have most luck with will vary.
Twitter is a great place to find influencers, because it’s got a super cool advanced search feature that gives you a lot of control when narrowing down the search results.
Using the advance search feature you’re able to get really nitty gritty and find very specific users.
In the above example, I’m looking for people who have recently tweeted the words “content marketer” in NYC. After I hit “search” I was presented with a lot of the thought leaders in the content marketing space.
If I were working on a real project, I’d follow them and begin to engage and take notice of who was providing value.
Instagram hasn’t caught on in all niches yet, but if you use Instagram for your business, it’s safe to assume that the influential people in your niche are doing the same.
Instagram’s search feature isn’t as robust as Twitter’s, but the hashtag results tend to be a lot more well rounded (as hashtags are more prevalent on Instagram).
When I’m looking for an influential person on Instagram, I’ll turn to the hashtag search first.
Find the relevant hashtags in your niche by simply typing one word to describe your niche. For example, by typing in “#contentmarketer” I found “#contentmarketingtips.” Clicking that took me to a page featuring the top nine posts from the last few days.
Clicking through each of those posts took me to accounts of influencers with 100,000+ followers.
Many of them had their contact information directly on their profile, so to keep tabs on them I added them to an Instagram collection by hitting the flag on one of their recent posts.
To find your collections, you can go to your profile and click the tab on the far right.
Finding influencers on Facebook is a little trickier, because I’ve found that once an influencer reaches a certain level of fame they stop engaging in Facebook communities.
If you’re targeting a micro influencer, though, Facebook groups could be the right place for you.
We’ve talked about finding Facebook communities in the past (link), and if you aren’t already part of Facebook groups in your niche I recommend checking them out.
Once you’re a member of a few mid-sized to large Facebook groups, you can start looking for influential people within them.
The first tactic would be turning to the moderators of the group and seeing whether they themselves are influential in your niche. I say to check there first, because many people struggle to grow a Facebook group unless they already have an audience.
To find the moderators, simply click on "members" within your Facebook group.
By doing a bit of digging in your community, you may find that the people running some of your favorite Facebook groups are actually big names in your niche.
If that doesn’t work, start looking to what people are posting in the group. If there are one or two people that seem to be answering everyone's questions, they are probably an authority in your area and may even be an influencer that you want to interview.
Reaching out to authorities in your niche
Before you can do anything else, you should hunt for the influencer’s email address. Sure, you could tweet them or slide into their direct messages, but depending on how large their following is, your message may get lost in the noise.
Emailing is more professional, and you won’t be limited by character restrictions.
That said, it’s a good idea to build a bit of rapport before reaching out. This could mean retweeting a few of their posts or commenting on a few of their Instagram pictures. When they see your name in their inbox, you want them to have at least a flicker of recognition that can hopefully influence them to read your email.
Finding the email
Most influential people online make it easy to find their email address. It might be on a “contact me” page on their blog or in the bio of their Instagram profile. Trickier places people hide their email addresses are in the footer of their website or even only making it available on LinkedIn. As a last resort, you can also tweet them or message them on your chosen social media asking for the best email address to contact them at.
Formatting your request
Here’s the thing—you’re asking for a favor at this point, so you might need to do a little bit of schmoozing. If you’re reaching out to someone you’ve never talked to or worked with in the past, you want to spend extra time making helping you by doing this interview sound like a great idea.
The number one thing to keep in mind, is you don’t want to waste the other person’s time.
As nice is it might feel to get a complimentary email that’s 20 paragraphs long, nobody has time to read that. You’re better off drafting a sweet and simple note letting them know: Who you are
- Why you think they’re awesome
- What you want
- What they’ll get out of it
The challenge is to do all of that in as few words as possible. Your authority might be getting 100 emails a day, so you want to be respectful of their time. Here’s what an email I might send would look like:
You’ll notice three things:
- I framed the request in a way that would show how they’d benefit from doing the interview. It’s easy to say, “You’re great and if you’re featured in my course I’ll make a ton more money!” but your email will likely get deleted.If instead you say, “You’re a respected authority in the niche and I’d love to feature an interview with you to position you as the go-to in __________”
- I was complimentary but not gushing. You want to come across as authentic, not like you’re kissing up. Flattery gets you so far until it doesn’t. Let them know that you admire them and their business and leave it at that.
- I got specific. If your email looks like you copied and pasted it to a dozen other people in your niche, you probably won’t get a response. It’s important to customize your email to the person you’re sending it to.
People are busy and often their inboxes are overflowing to the point where things might fall through the cracks. And that means there is a good chance that your email might fall through the cracks.
There’s an art to following up.
Passive aggressively sending something like, “Wondering why you didn’t respond to my email, did it get sent to spam??” won’t get you very far. Instead, word it kindly.
Compensating the authority
Depending on their following size and niche, the person you’re hoping to interview may request compensation for their time and expertise.
It’s up to you whether you want to offer it off the bat or not. If you have a set amount you’re expecting to pay, it could be in your best interest to include that in your email.
Pro tip: Offer 10-25% less than you actually want. Negotiations for interviews aren’t the norm, but they aren’t unheard of, either.
If you don’t offer a number right away, that puts the ball in their field to ask for as much as they want. While they may do so regardless, if you throw out the first number they’ll get an idea of your budget.
If you’re paying with money, think about how much value your course will gain from the interview and use that number as a benchmark.
If the authority you’re interviewing is still quite small and doesn’t have much of a fan base, the value they provide is a lot less than one of the names in your industry. So while you might not want to shell out hundreds of dollars, a giftcard to a coffee shop might be a great token of your appreciation.
Offering them an affiliate role
If you can’t or don’t want to pay them a set amount, consider offering them an affiliate position for your course.
Set them up with an affiliate account and promise them a set percent of every sale that they convert.
You got the interview, now what?
Once your authority agrees to an interview, now it’s up to you to figure out just how you’re going to make that happen.
Deciding on the format
There are 4 main formats to consider when planning your interview:
- Text interview: If you don’t want to go on camera to interview your authority, you can opt for sending a list of questions over via an email or Google Doc for them to answer. This is the most time efficient format for both of you, but it’s also the least engaging.
- Audio interview: You can set up a phone call or skype meeting and record the audio and use that in your course. This is great if either of you are uncomfortable on camera but still want that extra level of engagement.
- Video interview: Like the audio interview, you’ll want to set up a Skype or a Zoom meeting and use a screen recording program like Screenflow to record the interview.
- Live interview: If you and the influencer live in the same area, you can invite them to do a live interview that you’ll record. Here’s a good example of an interview in that format.
Briefing your interviewee on what to expect
When you’re interviewing somebody, you don’t want them to be blindsided by your questions or feel like they’re going in not knowing what to expect.
Before your interview, send the authority a list of questions you’re going to ask and request that they have a 30 second elevator speech they can use when introducing themselves. Letting them prepare for the interview will help them answer with confidence and provide the most value possible.
Of course, sometimes interviews go off track and you might come up with questions on the fly, but as long as the authority has a good idea of what to expect you should be golden.
Tips on interviewing:
Quick story time: In high school I was on the school newspaper and I was determined to write scathing, hard-hitting pieces exposing the perceived injustices I felt were being served. So, after a lot of pestering I got a school board member to agree to an interview with me.
It should have been great, but I’d never interviewed anyone before and when it came to actually interviewing the board member, they answered 75% of my questions in three words or less and my piece got canned.
Since then, I’ve learned a thing or two about interviewing, and here are a few of my best tips:
- Don’t use “yes” or “no” questions. Instead of asking, “Do you think the niche is big enough that new faces can make a name for themselves?” ask “How do you think new faces can make a name for themselves in this niche?” The difference seems miniscule, but if you ask the first questions they could answer, “Of course.” and that would be that. The second forces them to elaborate.
- Stay silent for a few seconds after they answer. If you’re doing an audio or video interview, allow them time to elaborate before asking your next question. I read once that if you don’t respond after someone says something they’ll fill the silence by offering more than what they originally said. I’ve tested it on many a friend and family member and can vouch for this one. So, if they say, “Stay true to yourself and remain authentic.” while that is decent advice, it’s not hard hitting. If you give them a moment to elaborate they may come up with an anecdote that can help solidify that advice or put it into perspective.
- Never cut them off. Even if they didn’t understand your question and they’re going way off track, it’s up to you to get them back on track after they finish answering. They might be pretty nervous and if you interrupt them or tell them they’re not answering your question their confidence might be shot.
- Ask them about their experiences. If you’re looking for great advice that comes from a personal place, ask them to frame their answers in relation to themselves.Instead of asking, “What do you think people struggle with most when it comes to ______?” ask, “What did you struggle with the most when it came to _________?” Again, it’s a tiny distinction that can make a huge difference.The first will often warrant the “expected” answer, or the one that is fine but a little stiff and and contrived. The second will help get concrete stories of what they struggled with and how they overcame it.
- Contribute to the conversation. Interviewing is awkward. If you’re sitting with a list of questions on your lap, it might feel safer to stay in your role of interviewer and rapid fire questions without responding to what they say.That’s not fun to consume from the other end, though. Instead, pretend you’re chatting with a friend (and try to make a friend!) If they answer something and you’ve got a related story, mention it! Interviews are more fun to watch when it looks like all parties are enjoying themselves.
Editing the interview
Chances are, the interview will need to be edited in some capacity. Whether that’s to cut out awkward moments in video or to fix spelling and formatting on a text interview, it’s a necessary step.
While it’s important to polish your interview, the worst thing you could possibly do is change the meaning of what the authority said through your editing. Things you should edit out of the interview:
- Long asides where you get off point. If you and the authority hit it off, you may find yourself going back and forth and getting way off track. Some of these interactions might be fine to keep in, but try to keep the interview as focused as possible.
- Awkward moments. Maybe you asked a question that took the interviewee off guard and she freezes up. Or maybe you had a random but violent sneezing fit. Those are things that will stick out and make the interview feel awkward for those consuming it.
- The pre and post interview conversation. Before I ever interview anyone, I always start off by letting them know what to expect. I brief them on how the recording is going to work and try to be a bit goofy with them so they will know that no matter how awkward they feel there’s no way they are going to be more awkward than me. While that’s great for putting them to ease, it’s nothing I want in the final product.
Things you shouldn’t edit out of the interview:
- Context. I can not stress this enough. Without context, people can twist just about anything any way they want to. Make sure the context is there for every answer the interviewee gives.
- Every “um” or “hmm.” Having a few “Uh…”s in your interview is less awkward than weird jump cuts either time someone uses a filler word. I usually will only edit them out if they’re the first word in an answer.
Send the final interview for approval
Even with the most careful editing, you may cut something that makes the interviewee uncomfortable.
Giving them the courtesy of a heads up and letting them see the final product before it goes live can do a lot in establishing trust and setting up the foundation to a positive business relationship.
Word of warning: The wording you send the final product with will go a long way. Don’t ask them if they want you to make any changes, instead tell them you wanted to know what they thought.
Incorporating the interview into your Teachable course
Once your interview is completed and polished, you’re ready to reap the reward from all of your hard work.
There are a few different ways that you can package your interview depending on your own goals.
The first, and my favorite method, is to simply add the interview into a lesson in your Teachable course. Every course I’ve taken that features an interview has gone this route. Perhaps you find that the interview really compliments one of the lessons in your course, from there add the interview into that lesson or upload it as a stand alone lesson where it most logically fits in your curriculum.
If you want to get fancy, though, you can use your interview as a bonus, too. For example, if you’re offering a pre-launch period, your interview could be the perfect incentive to get people to buy. You can offer to personally email each pre-sale purchaser the link to your very exclusive interview.
Now let’s say you’re a huge go getter (go you!) and you interviewed a handful of authorities for your course. You could create an entire section in your course with all of the interviews. Your students can pick and choose which are most relevant to them.
Communicate the value of your course
Like I mentioned earlier: this interview is insanely valuable. I know that, you know that, but how do we get your students to understand that?
Here are a few ideas:
Highlight the interview on your sales page
When you’re writing your sales page, make sure to feature the interview as a major selling point. Devote an entire block of text letting your audience know who you interviewed and tease what you talked about without giving the interview away. You want to use this to pique their interest and entice them to purchase.
Send an email promoting the interview
During your launch period, consider devoting an entire email to getting your potential students excited about the interview. You can make the subject line something along the lines of: you won’t believe who I interviewed! And use the email to elaborate on who you interviewed, why they’re important, and how the interview will help your students.
Host a webinar
If webinars are already part of your launch plan, organically bring up how pumped you are about the interview you had. Like the last two suggestions, this is the time where you should be getting your audience curious and excited and letting them know how valuable the authority’s advice is.