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52 Comments

My online course generated 7.1k USD in 30 days

One and a half years ago I decided to do some React Native coding sessions live on YouTube. The original premise was simple: even if no one watches the videos, I would get value from it. The reason is that when live coding, you are in a focused environment, explaining your thoughts out loud, not checking social media. After a while, I started to challenge myself with sophisticated gestures and animations in a series named “Can it be done in React Native?”. This series found its audience.

From there, developers in the YouTube comments started to ask me how they could learn the fundamentals of what I am doing in the series. At that moment, I decided to build an online course. Here’s what I did:

  • Recorded 2 hours of content focus on the fundamentals gestures and animations in React Native. Interestingly enough, I learned tons of things while building the course because I had to dig into the heart of the matter this time to explain it to people. A virtuous circle was created: because I learned to master the fundamentals to teach them, my content on YouTube is now of much better quality. And better YouTube content will drive more conversions to the online course.

  • Hosted the content on Wistia which is distributed via a simple website that integrates with Firebase and Stripe. There are many ways you can offer paid content without coding. However, I’m a developer, and I thought it would be fun to do it myself. This has some advantages and drawbacks. You have full control of the platform and its monetization. But you need to implement tons of features to have excellent payment workflows and user experiences.

  • Cloned the pricing model from brillant. After looking at different pricing models, I picked this one. The gap between the monthly subscription and the annual subscription is more than 50% per month which I like. The second thing that I liked is the lifetime membership. Since I’m an indie hacker, every time I have offered an upsell, it always exceeded expectations. While I have big plans for this platform, and it will eventually provide tons of resources around React Native, there is only a single course at the moment. However, someone already bought the lifetime membership.

I’m satisfied with the first thirty days of this platform. There is still tons of value that I am not capturing yet. Because I built the website myself, it lacks many features in terms of the payment workflows and user experiences. So far, my single marketing channel is my YouTube channel. I’m considering other marketing channels such as paid advertising for instance.

What do you guys think? Are there some obvious things I might be missing to improve this platform? I'm eager to read your feedback.

  1. 5

    Hi William!👋
    Congrats on this awesome milestone. Everything looks good and I love that you provide first lessons for free without any hassle around emails, sign up, etc. Just come and watch. If you like it - you will create account and pay, if not - you don't feel bad, because of you don't give your email or spent some time for registration.

    💪
    Quality of videos is really good and voice is clear. I'm not familiar with React Native at this moment so can't say anything about material. Anyway, I wish you good luck with your product. I like it.

    🤓
    Small note: I will share my little thoughts, it’s not necessary to pay attention to them, but still they can be useful. I like all this "free" illustration and they are really helps you build something nice without spending a lot of time on creating picture by themselves.. But usually when I saw it - I start feeling that I already saw this website before. I guess it would be much better if instead of this illustration you will add some screenshots from your videos.. (maybe with your face, maybe with some code, etc) and on top of this you can add some icons.. let's say in the bottom corners... I guess it make website more "personal" and "fresh".

    1. 2

      I agree on this point. I guess, in this case a simple preview instead of illustrations would be a better fit. Now, it looks more like design videos than coding (if you don't read any texts).

    2. 1

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write me such elaborate feedback. This is very valuable. Your point on the illustrations makes perfect sense, especially considering that my audience is full of developers who are familiar with these free illustrations. I'm planning to use professional help for the visual. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to send me this comment. 🙋🏼‍♂️

      1. 2

        You are welcome🙌

  2. 2

    Hi William 👋 and congrats for your success, your update pushed me to create more content on YouTube to create a better audience and sell my courses!

    Hope to hear more from you and keep up the great work you're doing on your channel!

    BTW I think I will use the same approach to the pricing model to differentiate the monthly and annual subscription.

  3. 2

    it's an amazing milestone. I want to move my courses to a separated platform as well but cannot build it from scratch at this point. was thinking about implementing something, related to NO CODE movement. like @bentossel doing

    1. 1

      Thank you, Arthur. It's funny you are mentioning because I listened to the IH podcast with @bentossel right in the middle of building my website. And I was close to using a NO CODE approach, I at least took one hour or two to consider it and try it webflow 😅

      1. 1

        Why didn’t you go for this approach in the end?

        1. 2

          Guilty pleasure, I've always been a developer and it's more fun for me to code. It's just a hobby for me 😅Not a business decision. However, while it costed conversions (it took more time to release the course, right now payment workflows are not optimal), in the long run, it will be better for me to have control over the platform.

          I really loved the @bentossel podcast and as a developer, I couldn't agree more with some of the perspectives that were shared in this podcast.

        2. 1

          This comment was deleted 2 years ago.

  4. 2

    Congratulations on your milestone William.

    1. 1

      Thank you for your support!

  5. 2

    Great result! Inspiring

    1. 2

      Thank you! Coming from a fellow React developer, that means a lot :)

  6. 2

    This is really great to see, and really interesting to read! Do you make a lot from your YouTube channel? It's great that you can monetize both, and each feeds into the other like you mentioned.

    1. 1

      Unfortunately not. YouTube ad revenue is very small: 80 USD per month. What is interesting is that I heard that on average the YouTube revenue used to be 5x higher which in itself would start to be quite attractive.

  7. 2

    Fantastic story, congrats! 🎉

    Where did you build your initial audience? Were they all youtube videos? I'm curious as to how you got attention before and after it became a product.

    1. 1

      It took me one year to go from 0 to 1k subscribers and one year to get to 1k to 13k. This is when I stumbled on the gesture and animation niche with the "can it be done in React Native?" series.

  8. 2

    Hey @wcandillon,
    /offtopic: First of all: your accent alone is worth the money! It is soothing and calm :)
    /ontopic: how much traction were you experiencing on YouTube before you were going for this course. And could you elaborate on how (if any) promotion was performed to gain traction?

    Love the website. Clean and to the point!

    All the best 🙌🏻

    1. 2

      You've made my day: thank you! My struggles with the English language is actually a source of insecurities sometimes.

      Since Mars/April, people in the comment section really started to ask for an online course in order to understand better the fundamentals of what I am doing on my video. I decided to do the course in May but it took a while for me to finally put it together. I started to work on it actively only early July. Since the launch, no promotion outside YouTube was done.

      1. 2

        You’re shipping and that is a victory on its own. Going on cam is tough for everyone at the start. It’s about daring to be vulnerable and you do it well. I’m Dutch so i know how hard it can be to not sound like a dork.

        It’s like both the exposure fear for shipping product quadruple and just doing your thing at the same time 😅

        Thanks for the insights and keep shipping 👊🏻✌🏻️

        1. 1

          yes 🙌🏻Let's keep putting the reps in 😉

  9. 2

    Felicitation, vraiment beau travail :)

    Love your youtube channel, your video are awesome and surely the best available in animation for React-Native. I was scared of the reanimated library but you make it so easy :)

    Keep the good work!!

    1. 1

      You were one of the very first customer for React Native Elements. Thank you for being one of the earliest supporters of my work as an indie hacker.

  10. 2

    Amazing work, thanks for sharing!

    1. 1

      Thank you for your support!

  11. 2

    Nice, great numbers. Where did you advertise your course/platform?

    1. 1

      Only via my youtube channel so far.

  12. 2

    Congrats! Sounds like you are off to a great start. I am curious, if there was a service that generated the api for you to have your invoicing and payment workflows would you have used it? I am thinking that would saved you a bunch of time.

    1. 1

      Absolutely. And there might be already some amazing tools available in the Stripe ecosystem. I'm just not aware of them.

  13. 2

    Yup, confirms that you can make a difference with just 2 hours of quality content

  14. 2

    William! It's great to see you on here. What are the odds? I'm a YouTube subscriber of yours already, as it happens. I'll have to go check out the course! Best of luck and cheers from Utah!

    1. 2

      Man, that's so cool! You were one of my earliest viewers. Please let me know if you have a request for me to do on the channel ;-)

  15. 2

    Congrats @wcandillon.
    One Question but not related your product :)
    From where did you get/buy illustrations images?

  16. 2

    Nice story! You mentioned a lifetime membership. Where do I find these pricing options (monthly, yearly, lifetime) on your website?

    On another note, how would you explain that so many people are willing to pay for this course? I believe that you did a really good job. But on the other hand there is also so much free stuff out there.

    1. 2

      Unfortunately, the pricing page is not yet available without signing. It's not done on purpose; I just bootstrapped the website quickly. The monthly subscription is 23 USD, annual subscription 108USD, and the lifetime subscription 600 USD.

      There are many free resources but I found a niche where a lot of people struggle with. The topic of declarative gestures and animations in React Native is reasonably new, and there aren't a lot of free resources on that topic yet. Most of the free resources available as of now are super recent. Technology moves so fast that it is also likely that the content will lose its relevance quickly. This is why I decided to opt-in for a subscription model where I can update the website every month with various up-to-date React Native courses and resources.

      1. 3

        If I understand correctly, you're not offering any one-time purchase options for the course? You are only offering subscriptions?

        That's an interesting model when you have only one course ... I'll be very interested in finding out what your retention is. It feels like it might put a lot of pressure on you to deliver new courses every month or two?

        Also, do you have any breakdown of how many users bought monthly vs. annual subscriptions?

        This is all very interesting for someone who is considering doing the same thing. Thanks for the great info!

        1. 1

          That's a great question. It's a gross estimation but right now out of 3 customers, 1 take the annual subscription (it was almost 50/50 during the launch, now decreasing). I don't have numbers on the retention rate.

          Right now because there is only one course, it does feel interesting to have such a paid membership option. But in the upcoming months, it will make more sense.

          Because of my experience with the YouTube videos and building other resources for React Native developers, I am relaxed and confident about behind capable to deliver great updates in the upcoming months.

          Good luck! Looking forward to see your journey here.

  17. 2

    That's Amazing! Well done!

    1. 2

      Thank you! Is TrackMyLift done in React Native? I'm a fitness enthusiast and I would love to eventually combine my passion for tech and fitness into one. Sounds like you might have achieved that goal :)

      1. 1

        Yep I've achieved it and it's going fairly well. I've built it in ResctJS as a PWA. Hard to distinguish though if you try it out 😁😁 thanks for the feedback!

        1. 2

          I love PWA 😍Have you looked at the latest innovations in React Native Web? It's quite mind-boggling. Twitter is using it for its web version.

          1. 1

            Yeah I have been reading up on it currently. It's insane. So powerful. 😍😎

    1. 2

      Thank you for your support 🙋🏼‍♂️It was interesting to check out Human Engineering, my roommate is a cancer research scientist and we were recently talking about potentially monitor our blood sugar for health and performance. It sounds like a very exciting project.

      1. 2

        Very cool! We are definitely very excited to be working on it. :D

        Your product caught my eye as we are exploring different avenues to scale things up in the near future. We don't have a ton of programming experience so learning resources such as yours are a godsend.

  18. 2

    Sweet start, mate. Can't wait to see where you take it next. :)

    1. 1

      That's going to be another couple of hundred coffees at Auer&Co 🙌🏻😃

  19. 1

    Congrats bro. I too found screen casting increase productivity, Go Far, Go High!!

    enjoy!

  20. 1

    @wcandillon looks great! Out of curiosity, did you think about making a course for Udemy or Pluralsight instead of your hosting on your own domain?

    1. 3

      I wanted to have it under my own platform because even though it's a single course right now, there will be many other things available under that subscription.

      I heard many negative things about Udemy, but I haven't tried it myself. One product which could have been great to release my product without coding would have been: https://www.podia.com or https://teachable.com.

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