The online courses have become a secure source of passive income for hundreds of bloggers and online experts in the USA, Russia, Brazil, and other countries with the most rapid growth in the digital sector. There is no wonder that e-learning products continue to gain popularity among digital entrepreneurs: the monthly revenues can reach up to $500.000 on average, depending on the effectiveness of the marketing strategy.

We caught up with Bulat Valeev, internet marketing analyst in educational projects, our partner. During his career started in 2011, when he was one of the few digital innovators on the global scale, he helped build dozens of successful online businesses with six-figure profits. Now his approach is largely used by digital companies of all sizes and has proved to be highly effective on the e-learning market way beyond Russia where it was born.

My first endeavors brought me no results in the digital world because I had no experience working with the online users and knew nothing about good copywriting, Internet traffic and, to be honest, about the marketing itself”, Bulat remembers how it all started.

At that point, there were no tutorials available on how to operate on the digital scene, so I had to learn what I know today by myself, with the help of other experts I met on my way to succeeding in the online business. There was no system and it took me a long time to put together all the pieces to finally get a full picture of this new exciting market. So I tested and tested different approaches trying to find the most effective one. In 2018, I eventually did it and got acquainted with the concept of building automatic processes”, continues Bulat.

This discovery has helped him to realize all this time he was trying to earn easy money, with no long-term payout strategy. The online producer was concentrating on a cold audience which obviously (as we know today) had less interest in the product and was less likely to appreciate it and give it the right value.

So Bulat started doing what every digital entrepreneur is doing today, but not back then: he started to create and grow his personal brand around his name. This effort has paid out quickly as the producer and the market were finally moving in the same direction. Russia was one of the first countries on Earth to respond positively to the trend of digital education, with dozens and then hundreds of experts eager to create their own e-learning courses. This has led to the cosmiс growth of the business sector that nearly existed so far. The companies started to adjust their marketing budget to meet new market needs.

In 2019, Bulat Valeev was appointed as a commercial director of one of the first online production studios in the post soviet area. A year ago he left the company to become an independent e-learning business expert.

During his career, he realized that every mistake brings you closer to success, and in this article, he shares with us what NOT to do to make this road shorter:

1. Don’t be inconsistent in your business strategy. Sometimes you may think it’s enough to have an approximate plan of action since we talk about a new and unfamiliar market but the truth is you will need a step-by-step strategy anyway because the e-learning business is no different from any other business. The sooner you realize this, the easier your journey to success will be!

2. Don’t think you already know enough. For a long period of time, I thought that analyzing the product’s audience wasn’t crucial for our business, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Knowing who your customers are is at the heart of every successful strategy. I paid a price for my lack of knowledge by being rejected on the job interview with Skyeng, an international Edtech company specializing in English lessons for adults and children. I couldn’t create a customer profile because I didn’t have enough information. So after I was pointed out my mistake I started to learn clients’ needs and behavior.

3. Don’t forget to put the quality of the product first. Always.

The products I work with today must possess the following characteristics:

  • well thought visual part;
  • high-quality sound;
  • clear and engaging learning process;
  • the possibility to test the product before purchasing it;
  • exams at the end of the course which will allow assessing the students’ level;
  • valid certificate for those who successfully conclude the course;

Online education is no different from the offline form of getting knowledge, so it’s important to apply to e-products the same standards. Make sure your course is worth the money you are asking for. If the answer is yes, you did a great job!

4. Don’t leave any significant data without your attention. I made this mistake myself so I know what I’m talking about and how much it could cost you. If you get bored analyzing numbers you can always delegate this task to someone from your team but you’ll still have to understand the data language. If not, you risk missing an important sign you are doing something wrong. Remember that any small mistake can affect your business. For example, when I finally started reading the numbers I realized we had to reschedule all of our free webinars aimed to sell the courses from evening hours to daytime. In this way, we increased our audience from 15–22% to 25–33%. By doing so, we could quickly see a significant growth of all other data.

5. Never accept the word as a guarantee. I learned the hard way that it’s better to put everything on paper. If one of the parties changed their mind there was nothing left to do apart from breaking the whole partnership. But if you write down all the possible scenarios, you could still come to an agreement and continue the collaboration. It’s often much easier than starting everything from scratch with another partner.

If you want to learn more about how to launch your online course without much effort, check out our step-by-step guide here: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your Own Online Course in 2022