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I Quit! I’m Never Going to Sell Another Online Course…

I’m quitting.

I’ve been selling online courses and training off and on for the past 7 or 8 years and I’m just about to throw in the towel.

I’m serious.  Don’t make me step back from this ledge.  My wife approves, so you couldn’t stop me if you wanted to.

So, here’s the dilemma: Do I continue to sell online courses (which are very profitable) or do I give it up and pursue other ventures that I’m more passionate about?

I want to dive into what’s going on inside my entrepreneurial brain and hopefully some of my gibberish will turn out to not be gibberish and will be something that you can actually apply in your online business.

To Guru or Not to Guru

I hate the term “guru”, but you know what I mean.  The guru is the guy that hopefully has gained valuable experience is some area and then at some point decides to teach others; through online courses in our example.

There are LOTS of “gurus” out there selling online training like: Tony Robins, Tai Lopez, Dean Graziosi, and Brendan Buchard.

Then of course there are lots of others selling courses in the SEO or online marketing niche that are a little closer to me like Brian Dean, Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, and many others.

As you get further down the rabbit hole of the type and variety of people selling online courses, you start to run into some pretty suspect characters.  Did these people REALLY make money before they started selling their training?

As I read through the biography or even Wikipedia pages of some of the best known “gurus” out there, the only conclusion I can come to is that a few of them never really made any money until they started coaching others or selling training.

And that’s the core of the problem for me.  I don’t want to be lumped in with people that make more selling courses than they do by actually doing what they teach in the course.

This sort of rule only applies to a very small sub-section of online courses.  Obviously if you sell a course on how to do paper mache or how to organize your closet…you BETTER be making more money by selling the course than actually doing paper mache or cleaning your closet.

However, if you sell a course that is supposed to teach someone how to start a local SEO agency and you don’t actually make very much money running a local SEO agency, then I would call your business pretty suspect.

I think you get the picture.  Sometimes people promise to teach you how to make millions, but they’ve never actually made millions themselves. (Or if they have, they only made millions by selling you a course on how to make millions).

Phew…thanks for letting me get this off my chest!  I told you there would be a lot of gibberish here.

The bottom line for me is that I’m not comfortable selling a course because then someone might lump me in with these other “suspect” gurus.  I don’t want to be a part of that crowd, even if it can be extremely profitable.

What Are You Giving Up – $$$,$$$?

Selling online information is profitable.  You create a course once and you can sell it an unlimited number of times.  

So, I want to be clear that I think selling online courses is a great business model.  I’m not trying to discourage anyone from creating and selling a course, I’m just trying to explain in a really long-winded way why I’ve come to the conclusion to stop selling courses.

I won’t judge anyone (at least publicly 🙂 ) if they decide to become a guru, that’s your decision to make.

I simply wanted to share some numbers to let you know that is not an easy decision.  I’m giving up very real income by shutting down my online courses.  

In the past 12 months, I’ve made over $100,000 selling my online courses.  (For the record, YES, I made more money with my other business ventures during the same time period than I did selling courses).

Giving up six figures is a very real decision.

“No thanks, I don’t want $100k because well, I don’t feel like it right now.”  My wife’s shopping habits might not like that decision very much.

Anyway, I’m giving up over six figures a year with this decision, it’s not easy, but I think it’s the right thing to do for me.

What Are You Doing Instead?

So, you may be wondering, if I don’t hone my Guru capabilities, what will I be doing instead?

The model for many bloggers is pretty clear: get popular online, then sell training to people.  It’s a pretty clear cut strategy that has grown many multi-million dollar businesses.

So, what’s a blogger to do if they don’t feel like Guru’ing today?

Well, for me I’m going to continue to grow the content and traffic on NichePursuits.com like crazy.  I also have a couple of software products (Table Labs and Link Whisper) and a couple more ideas in the hopper.

Over the past few months, I decided to really start focusing on the traffic and earnings (affiliate earnings) growth of Niche Pursuits and some pretty impressive things have happened.  I hired a full-time writing about 3 months ago, and I’m about to hire another one.

Turns out when I spend more time DOING what I’ve been teaching in Organic Traffic Formula, I start to see results.

In addition, I just launched Link Whisper (WordPress plugin for making internal linking much faster and easier), and let’s just say that the business has legs.

(I also happen to have another Niche Site doing pretty well)

The bottom line is that I have other business ventures that I want to focus on and grow.

Here’s the quick plan (just so you know what I’m working on…I like to pretend you care):

The model is fairly simple, and it’s not terribly different than what I’ve done since I started Niche Pursuits 9 or 10 years ago.  I just won’t be selling courses.

Oh, and I plan to scale like crazy.

Are You Limiting Your Growth Potential?

I think a lot of people probably think the best way for a blogger to scale their business is to sell information products.  In some cases, this may be true.

However, when I was browsing the Inc. 5000 list recently I noticed something interesting.

I didn’t notice alot of online course sellers on that list (Tai Lopez did make the list, fyi).  There were a lot of education companies, but most were not what I would call a “guru” business.  (For example, my cousin Jon Haws owns NRSNG.com, which is an education company that is on the Inc. 5000 list…but it’s not a “guru” business). 

But I did notice a TON of content/ad revenue businesses.

In other words, the really large content sites (blogs) are scaling quickly.  The best part is that they make money through affiliate and ad revenue.  They aren’t selling courses, training, or consulting for the most part.

Here’s just 3 small examples that are fairly related to NichePursuits.

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FitSmallBusiness.com – Affiliate and Ad Revenue

They make their money through ads on their site and affiliate income when they refer a product.  They are in the business space; similar to Niche Pursuits.

They just happened to make $7.1 million last year.

Bigger Pockets – Advertising, Affiliate, MarketPlace, and Information Sales

Bigger Pockets does have books and courses you can buy.  They also have several other revenue streams and I don’t have any insight into how much each of those makes.  However, it’s safe to say that their income outside of strictly training products is significant.

Overall, they are a massive content business that has grown quickly over the last few years (hence the Inc. 5000 listing).

G2 – Affiliate and Advertising Content Business

G2 is obviously a massive company that has raised all kinds of money.  At the core though, they are a content business that makes money through affiliate and advertising revenue.

Their user generated software reviews are a major part of their business.  But it’s interesting that I do compete on some of the same terms (like Long Tail Pro Review or SEMrush Review).  

We have a very tiny sliver of crossover in similar targeted keywords.

I have no intention of directly competing with G2 and these other big players.  I’m simply just trying to make the point that I have PLENTY of growth opportunity on Niche Pursuits by growing the content, affiliate, and advertising side of the business.

I don’t need to be messing around with courses; there’s, plenty of growth opportunities elsewhere.

When You Focus on Something…

In order to focus on one thing, you often have to give up another.  I plan on no longer focusing on courses and training.

I’m focusing on growing the content, traffic, and earnings on NichePursuits.com and creating related software products for my audience.  In fact about 3 months ago, I hired a full-time writer for Niche Pursuits (you can see his work here), and I’m about to hire another full-time writer.

The results have been phenomenal.

Check out the traffic growth on NichePursuits.com over the past few months.

(The lowest point to the highest point on the graph is double…double!)

Traffic has essentially doubled to NichePursuits.com in the past few months.  It’s crazy because the strategies I’m implementing are things that I always knew I should be doing, I just never had time to do them myself.

The strategies include updating TONS of old content, better optimizing posts, and writing new keyword focused content.  That sentence sounds fairly simple, but there’s lots of nuances to those strategies.

Bottom line is that now that I’m focusing on growth (and I can grow because I’m hiring and not trying to do it all myself) and the results are definitely appearing.

But what about earnings?

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I’m happy to report that both affiliate/ad revenue is up significantly for NichePursuits.com as well.  Please note that the below graph does not include any of my software products or training courses – this is just affiliate/ad revenue.

Yes, I removed the actual dollar values so you don’t know exactly how much the site is earning.  I simply wanted to show the growth trend, especially the last few months.

In fact, 3 of the 4 highest months this year have been the last 3 months (as shown on graph).  And the earnings spike in April is only due to a big affiliate affiliate promotion I did that month, so it’s more of an anomaly.

Overall, the traffic is up and earnings are up significantly now that I’ve been focusing on Niche Pursuits a bit more over the past few months.  I’m hiring more and have a plan in place to continue growing the traffic and earnings.

Those plans do not include selling training courses anymore.

So…Where Can I Buy Your Course?

Is this whole post just meant to convince me to buy your course before it goes away forever?  Yes and no.

At least I’m honest.

Sure, I would love it if you went and purchased Organic Traffic Formula + Niche Pursuits Insider before the doors close.  But this entire section won’t even apply if you are reading this after September 13th, 2019.

This REALLY is a major shift in my business – I really won’t be selling online courses anymore.  And when I make a major shift in my business, I like to blog about those things.

“Never” is a long time and I don’t take it lightly.  However, I’ve been known to stick to my guns.

In fact, 5 years ago I wrote an epic post titled, “Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again!”  In the 5 years since that blog post, I have never used a PBN.

So, while I hope you jump at the chance to get access to my course right here one last time, this isn’t just a marketing strategy.  I really am getting out of the business of selling online courses.

I’m hanging up my hat.

I’m retiring.

I’m done.

In Summary

Overall, I think I’ve shared where I stand pretty clearly.  I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with selling online courses; however, I’ve made the decision to focus on other aspects of my business.

Here’s a few quick recap of why I won’t be selling online courses anymore:

What do you think of my decision?  Am I crazy to give up selling online training courses?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this new direction in my business.




Niche Business Ideas

By Spencer Haws
September 24, 2019 | 53 Comments

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53 Comments

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John

I have been following your work for a while now. Good for you for throwing in the towel. I am sure you will make plenty of money doing something you are passionate about. I did buy your link whisper tool and I do link it. Makes my job a lot easier. Anyways Good luck to you.

Spencer Haws

Thanks so much, John!

Hector

I can totally relate with you on this and I’m pretty sure you will see this decision 5 years from now as one of the most important to your business. Thanks for sharing!

Spencer Haws

Thank you Hector…I hope you are right! Thanks for the support.

SuperM

Spencer, I’ve been a looooonnngg time follower of yours and an original long tail pro user long before you sold it. I haven’t bought your course (I take a look again at whether I should before it disappears forever), but you’re one of only literally a handful of bloggers and YouTubers I actively read/listen to and follow.

I think this makes a lot of sense – you’re giving up some (actually a lot) of money in the short/medium term for being able to really focus on what you enjoy and can grow most in the longer term.

And focus is a really key ingredient in growth not to be underestimated! Good luck….. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Thank you SuperM!

Jake Cain

Yes, you’re crazy.

Spencer Haws

Perhaps. At least you’re honest!

Jake Cain

Only joking! Sounds like a good plan.

Diane

I absolutely love your posts. Thank you so much for sharing so much information with us. I agree about the so called gurus. I can see through them very easily but I guess there’s a lot of people out there who can’t, so I understand your decision. Plus I’m a great believer in only doing things that you’re really passionate about. You are one of the few really good guys out there in the industry Spencer and I really thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the amazingly useful and interesting posts I have read over the years. All the very best with your ventures going forward.

Spencer Haws

Thank you so much Diane! I appreciate you reading along over the years!

Mark Mars

The end of an era. Thanks Spencer. Your blog and then a purchase of OTF is where it all began for me. Your content made me realise that I could do this too.

Seems like you’ve got a lot on your plate so doubling down and focusing on what you are really passionate about sounds like a great business decision.

I look forward to following along!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Mark!

Avi

Hey Spencer,

Great post. I think your making the right decision if courses aren’t your thing then move on. I think you should focus on software and grow that it can be a great moneymaker. Also just a few idea I know people who make money in one thing like for example a site and invest it in real estate or stocks or something that is passive. Or maybe buy other businesses to invest in.
Just some thoughts

Thank you

Spencer Haws

Thanks Avi!

Tobias

Dear Spencer, thanks for this post as I was really wondering… Somehow I understand your move as you obviously do not want to be lumped together with shady “gurus”. BUT this totally does not apply to you and the way you build up your business – so I cannot understand this argument to be honest, especially because I do not think that most people who sell courses are shady gurus – for me it is a logical step. But more important: Seems like you found a “cash cow” that generates money and you want to turn it off. In our constitution (Germany) it says ‘property obliges’ – so when you have more than others, do something good with it. We all are in the lucky position to live in wealthy countries – which is pure luck and nothing more – and others really have to struggle with life. From this point of view I think it is a better move to continue and give the money to charities or build up your own charity project (which could be very fulfilling I guess). Spencer you have something very valuable here and want let it die – instead of doing something good with it!

Spencer Haws

Thanks for the thoughts, Tobias. It’s not an easy decision. But what I didn’t say perahps as clearly in my post is that I think I will actually make MORE money by killing off the courses. As a result, I’ll have more opportunity to do what I feel best with those additional funds.

Tobias

Hej Spencer, thanks for the clarification. I assumed that selling the course is pretty hands off and would not keep you from concentrating now on the other opportunities (which I really look forward to btw 🙂 if you share them here. But if the course is slowing you down going in this direction I can understand it. Good luck and respect to make this major step as I well hear that it is a tough decision to make. Good luck and I am looking forward to you new podcast – I hear it nearly since day 1 🙂

Axel

Spencer,

I’ve been following your content for years and it’s great work. Thank you for sharing your journey and thought process. I think you’re making the smart move, authenticity is worth more than 100k in the long term.

Spencer Haws

Thanks you, Axel…I appreciate the kind words!

Lu

Hi Spencer, will the online videos and access to the course be eventually taken down?
Good luck with your future ventures btw!

Spencer Haws

I don’t intend to take down the course. It should be there at least a couple years (probably more).

David Robinson

I have to ask because it is a key component of Niche Pursuits, in my opinion, …. will there be a Project 5 in the works for next year?
Thanks for the guidance and support old friend!
David

Spencer Haws

There is no plan for a NSP 5 at the moment. I expect to continue growing NSP4 for years to come – and sharing those results.

William

Hi Spencer,

Thank you for substantiating … happened when my colleague was asking me just yesterday if those “gurus” that kept appearing on YouTube ads on “making money online” and showcasing their “luxurious lifestyle” (seriously, anyone could just book a ferrari, maybe jetplane, for a day).

I do believe some “gurus” indeed owned those lifestyle … but with monies paid by buyers for the exact “coaching” (or dream) they are selling.

And thank you for your decision to focus on your contents – the exact things that I learn so much from you. I got your Long Tail Pro when you first launch it. Still a LTP member now after you’ve sold it. The software (LTP) you’ve created got me hooked in SEO and the learning from NP is so much more valuable then many paid “courses” out there.

Keep the good stuff coming … Thanks Spencer!

Spencer Haws

Thanks for the thoughts and kind words, William! I agree.

Angel

Hi Spencer, I agree and respect your decision to make this change in your business. I also understand selling online courses is not something your passionate about. However, I can’t help but feel upset about this. I’ve been following your blog for a couple years now and have been wanting to purchase your courses and learn from you only. Just because I love your teaching style and know you add a ton of value. My problem is, I haven’t been able to afford your courses, I was looking forward to purchase them as soon as I came up with the money.

I think you should keep your courses open. Just not link to them on Niche Pursuits.

Spencer Haws

Sorry the timing to join one of my courses isn’t right for you. I won’t be keeping the courses open though.

Dawn

That’s cool that you are following your passions and getting out of the courses business. But I thought Jason Wilson and Jake Cain were doing this with you. Will they continue the class?

Thank you for your awesome Link Whisperer and many words of wisdom. Best wishes in your new pursuits.

Spencer Haws

Jason and Jake haven’t worked for me in almost a year. I was happy to see them move on to their own things – we still stay in touch alot.

Goran Duskic

I hope this doesn’f impact your podcast, and that you will keep uploading new episodes?

Spencer Haws

The podcast continues!

Jon

What about Niche Pursuits Insider? Is that to suffer the same fate?

( Love what you do, I’m a big fan!)

Spencer Haws

Yes. The doors are closing on Niche Pursuits Insider as well. Thanks Jon!

Jon

Thanks Spencer, but I’m still a little confused. You’ve put all the content from NPI into OTF. OTF is a one time purchase, whereas NPI is a subscription. Does that mean you’re stopping billing NPI monthly?

I already have both: so does that mean, from now on all I need is OTF and can stop NPI? Seems so. Sorry if I’m being a bit dense.

Spencer Haws

That’s correct. I’m cancelling all NPI subscriptions this week. You have everything and don’t need to pay for anything else.

Adam

Wow, didn’t expect that. It seems like the ‘natural’ progression for people who are making a living online eventually move away from what they did to teaching others how to do it. It’s nice to see you sticking with what got you to where you are now.

I’ve been following along for years now and you can bet I’ll still be following you. The content you provide is both educational and motivational. Thanks!

Spencer Haws

Thanks Adam!

Mount Woods

I guess you’ve gotta do what you gotta do there are no if’s and buts. It’s your decision and as long as it turns good you don’t have to worry about other’s opinion.

AC

I like the focus on a few core things for sure, but if OTF wasn’t taking up that much time in terms of student support and general operations, why not keep it running and have your new writer update the content (although that could be tricky since you’re in the videos, etc). If you are making 100K mainly on autopilot (although there will always be some maintenance), then it seems silly to give it up! I do get where you are coming from though.

Spencer Haws

Promotion and marketing also take up time. But this isn’t about a time commitment decision. It could take 0 hours of my time and I would still close it. See my reasons in the blog post :).

AC

I did read the post in full and scanned it again for good measure 🙂 I don’t really mean in terms of time, I would just question the premise. When you say:

“The bottom line is that I have other business ventures that I want to focus on and grow.”

Why see them as separate or ‘other’ business ventures when they’re not, really? They are as synergistic and complementary as you can get and each one leverages the next.

Simple example – you want to grow Link Whisper over the coming months and years. Imagine how many new subs to it you could get via your courses and group if you grew signups to these significantly over the next while, just by having a link to LW in various places throughout the course and group.

Again, I do get where you’re coming from, but as a bit of a serial entrepreneur / new project fan myself, it’s easy to say “THIS is my direction now”, before seeing it differently a few months later.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re happy with the decision…for now haha.

Bijan

Hi Spencer. I just recently got introduced to you through Miles. It’s nice to hear that it’s not only me struggling with such important decisions. Last weeks and months I struggled between a lot of topics like creating blog content, creating a course, social media, fb ads, creating videos, etc. 2 weeks ago I also decided to go all-in on organic seo and creating content. So you post approves my decision. Thanks for this!!
May I ask how much do you approximately pay per month for a full-time content writer?
All the best to you!

Spencer Haws

Glad that helps, Bijan! Writers can vary in cost greatly. You can pay them hourly, by word, or salary (I’m doing all 3 right now). Cost around 0.03 to 0.05 per word is a good target.

Korobi

Hi Spencer, I am one of your follower. I would also like to have the course open. By killing the course you are going to kill the dream of millions of people. We all look forward to your resources with great interest. You are seeing it from business point of view. But have you thought that it is in a way serving the people in need. It gives us reliable resources, and we are so much depended on it. You don’t have to put any more attention or energy into it – it just needs to be kept open for us. Please Please don’t close it, by serving resources you are serving humanity across the world. Hope you will follow peoples emotion. Thanks

Spencer Haws

Korobi,
I still share everything for free on my blog. I’m closing it. Thanks for heartfelt plea though!

Beanny

Spencer, I’m a long time follower. Just wanted to let you know. 🙂

Spencer Haws

Lol, with a face and name like Beanny…I’m honored to have you as a follower. PS – I’ll see you at dinner this weekend, bro.

Jeff

I totally respect your decision. Gurus are the worst… Tai Lopez makes me sick. If you really want to give the “guru mentality” the middle finger, why not just give away all your training for free?

Spencer Haws

Thanks Jeff! 🙂

Julie

Hi Spencer. Miles Beckler introduced me to you through one of his emails. I’ve been following Miles for aaaages and his experience and value has been insanely great. So when Miles says “check out this dude because of xyz….” I do and I did. I think it’s great you are ditching online courses in order to focus elsewhere. You’ve reached that stage in your business, built the experience – you are ready. Makes sense. As for me – mate – I’m so freakin’ NEW as in only just hit ‘live’ on my website a couple of weeks ago. It’s got a staggering TWO blog posts on it. Biggest lesson so far? No room for perfectionists! They might die before going live. Anyhoo – I do have plans. Let me tell you – just getting to that stage of going live took foreveeeeerrrr! But man I learned so much building it myself. Oh – I’ll be buying your course by the way.

Spencer Haws

Good luck with your journey, Julie! Thank you!!

Jamiu Oloyede

Spencer,

Thank you for your honesty.

I actually did the same with all my info products and online courses at the end of last year.

I called it a quit and started my SAAS software company.

Now, I have 3/4 softwares – 3 chrome extension and 1 wordpress plugin that are making me MRR.

Your post about how you made $4,000 within two weeks with chrome extension motivated me and was really helpful.

Thank you so much for everything.

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