Will People Pay Money To Learn From You? – Teaching Sells Review

By Yaro Starak
29 Comments

Teaching Sells Logo I was given special access to Brian and Tony Clark’s new membership site Teaching Sells as a joint venture partner to see if I felt the program was worth recommending to you.

Every other blogger in my industry has already written their promotional posts about the program during the first few days when Teaching Sells was released. Although I know my blogging peers all work very hard to offer great content and unbiased opinion when they recommend a product, there is also an element of urgency whenever something new launches. As you probably can guess, in terms of affiliate sales the sooner you promote the more you make because you beat the other affiliates.

I was on holiday during the launch of Teaching Sells so I decided to hold off my post until I could actually look inside and review the content, rather than attempt to rush a post during my holiday purely for the sake of getting in quick for maximum affiliate sales.

I’ve just spent some time going through what’s available to members after joining and here’s what I think of Teaching Sells.

Can You Make Money Selling What You Know?

When doing this review I had to change my point of view. As a blogger, who gives away a ton of free content and a membership site owner who also charges for a ton of content, I have a certain bias regarding the core principles that Teaching Sells promotes – the idea that you don’t have to give away content and can instead sell it for a profit.

I feel like I both agree and disagree at the same time with the main thesis, so I am interested to study how Brian and Tony present their offer and also what they teach inside the program.

I decided to put myself in the shoes of someone with no online presence, but perhaps with some knowledge in an area that I feel could be valuable to people and hence profitable. My hope, as this persona, is that Brian and Tony can teach me exactly how to translate my knowledge into a profitable online business by selling what I know.

The golden question really is – can you make money charging for what you know?

The Core Modules

Teaching Sells is a 12 week course broken down into five modules. They are:

  1. How to Create Content that Sells
  2. How to Effectively Market Interactive Learning Environments
  3. How to Create Killer Multimedia Content with Quick and Easy Tools
  4. Seven Profitable Business Models for Interactive Content Developers
  5. Your Blueprint for Building Membership Sites with Open Source and Low-Cost Software

There is also a community forum for members to interact in, which, if Brian and Tony remain present in long term, could become a very valuable sounding board for students to get feedback and help from.

Note I could not go through every module above because they were not all available in entirety at the time of writing this review.

Brian and Tony and their screencast expert, Shane Arthur, offer their materials in a wide range of media, including text, screencasts, audio MP3s and interactive flash presentations. A lot of what I saw at this early point in the program was teaser information about what’s coming soon – very good teaser information though – and I’m excited to see all the different ways they will present resources in the future.

There is enough to work through in the first module, which is available immediately, and no doubt as the charter group of students go through the program, Brian and Tony will continue to release the rest of the modules.

First Impressions

I must admit I felt lost at first and I’m not entirely happy with the content management system they are using to deliver the information – I just wasn’t exactly sure where to put my eyes upon entering and the very large screen width on my wide screen monitor didn’t help. After playing around and shrinking my browser to a more manageable width I figured out how things worked. Expect a little confusion at first, but you should be fine once you snoop around and see where all the links go.

I started reading the first module and I noticed a strange feeling – I felt like I was back at university reading an online course. I’m not sure why that is – perhaps it was because of words like “instructional design” and the academic tone of the content. The information is great, but I did have to force myself to concentrate sometimes to absorb what was being said, although I think most people say that about anything you have to study.

Who Is The Target Market?

I started to realize that perhaps Teaching Sells is not targeted at absolutely beginners like I expected it to be. Given the tone and style of content, I think the program is best suited to somewhat educated people, which actually makes complete sense.

If Tony and Brian want their program to perform and actually get results for their students, they need to attract a certain type of student who possess at least some degree of knowledge, since the whole premise is selling knowledge.

That doesn’t mean you have to know what you are going to sell before joining, but you do have to be prepared to acquire some knowledge at some point or you won’t have any wares to offer in return for money.

The Good

Let’s start with the obvious – Brian Clark is behind this. Brian, famous at least publicly for his blog, Copyblogger, knows how to write compelling content. I don’t know how much of the content Brian is specifically teaching, but you can rest assured he won’t put his name to anything he is not satisfied with.

Brian and Tony ClarkI didn’t know of Tony Clark before this program was released, but Brian wouldn’t be partnering with anyone who didn’t know his stuff, so I’m sure this pairing will perform well together.

The program is extremely affordable, but that’s only because now as I type this you can still join as a charter member for the discount price of $97 for the first three months (offers end October 2007). That really is a bargain and I’d join this just to have the information available even if you don’t get to it for a month or two, so you can lock in the cheap price.

I like the fact that Teaching Sells will help you with the software tools by teaching how they create the information using different media. As Shane states in the welcome screencast for module three, the program will teach you how to use audio editing software, Camtasia screen recording software, flash development software and other tools you can use to create multimedia training materials. It’s nice to have people show you the best resources to use so you don’t have to hunt around for them yourself.

The Bad

I have to admit I’m not a fan of the writing style in *some* of the articles so far…but that’s something very personal to me, and you might totally disagree with me, in fact I know many people would. I like a casual talking voice like a friend is chatting to me, sometimes Teaching Sells speaks to me like a lecturer at university, which back when I was studying, would put me to sleep.

The articles are short and although the premise is great, I’m not being told what to do just yet. I am being told why there is such a great opportunity to start selling knowledge online, but not exactly how. However this could all change as the later modules are released.

Although the course has interactive assessments, which I think are a brilliant addition, so far at least, I don’t see direct task orientated training presented. I haven’t been told what to do and I haven’t been offered examples of how other people did things. I like successful case studies and then specific tasks to do to replicate the success that the case study presented. So far I haven’t seen this in Teaching Sells.

All these points could entirely be my personal preference and you may find things different, so I recommend you try the program out and see if you like it, there’s always a money back guarantee if you don’t.

Too Soon To Be Conclusive, But Too Tempting Not To Try

Given most of the course is not available yet I really can’t judge this program accurately. What I can say is that the premise is great and I expect things will just get better – and now is by far the best time to join.

Brian has openly stated, true to his teaching methodology, that the charter members are there to help him craft a better course, hence the cheaper price. I can attest to this process – it works, and that’s exactly why I offered a cheaper price for the early bird students who joined my blogging program, Blog Mastermind.

The first group of students are there to help you construct a great course and you can’t do that without active participation from real paying members who provide live feedback. In return for help, feedback and the understanding that the program is still in early development, charter members are rewarded with a cheaper price. That doesn’t mean the program is bad, and really it doesn’t matter if it starts off a little shakily, because you lock in your price for lifetime, so as the program improves you still have access at the discount rate.

Act Fast

Teaching Sells Charter PriceI know this may sound like hyped-copy, but the deadline for the special charter member price ends October 31st at midnight, about 24 hours from the time I posted this article. I don’t know what the new price will be, but at $97 for THREE months and a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee, you may as well join this just for the sake of taking a peek.

Here’s the link, and yes, this is my affiliate link in case you were wondering -

www.TeachingSells.com

Yaro Starak
Selling Knowledge

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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29 Comments

  • Hi Yaro,

    I’ve signed up to do this course – basically because Darren Rowse recommended it and it was affordable to a povo like me.

    So far the content is a bit light on. However they assure us that this is because the topic so far is only introductory and the details will be filled in later.

    They are brave people: most of the people posting to the fora are either experienced teachers, experienced on line or both. They are getting lots of feedback, all positive but by no means uncritical.

    So far, the advice offered in the various fora are what makes the course worthwhile. Well worth the price of admission (at this low price). If the content stays at this level I don’t think the course will be much good.

    The course has a very strong slant to making money and marketing. I think they are more marketing people than teachers. In one of their audio’s they say that teachers are salespeople! This shows pretty much where their heads are at. (I started a discussion thread protesting at this: and got all the marketing types saying ‘teaching really does sell etc’. Which just misses the point). Because the course is about making money from teaching their needs to be stuff about this, but it’s more that way than I would like.

    If the course delivers on its promise (and there is no reason so far to doubt that it will) then it will be sensational value (at this price).

    So that’s my take on the course so far.

    If someone has the spare $97US (about $110AUS) it looks to be well worth taking a chance with.

    NOTE the $97 is a three month subscription – and it will continue to be deducted if you don’t cancel. This was not highlighted in the advertising!

  • I can’t be sure that this program is what I realy need. But I hope that it does good for whoever get it. Good luck!

  • Hi Yaro,

    If top bloggers sign up for this course, and start implementing it’s ideas, do you think it will lead to less high-quality free content being posted to the most popular blogs? … ie, the writers will hold back their “best” stuff for the paid course.

    Todd

  • Yaro,

    I have to say I tend to agree with you. All the build-up & hype, and the ‘free report’ painted an excellent picture – and there really does seem to be some substance to the approach they’re promoting – but I have also been disappointed by the content so far.
    In fact, I have already cancelled my subscription – so I will only get the 1st 3 months worth.
    I have to agree with Evan Hadkins (above) – this ‘oh by the way, did we forget to tell you? You will be changed a US$97/3mth subscription unless you specifically cancel’ does NOT give me any warm fuzzies… It should be the other way round! (i.e. Your membership won’t continue unless you specifically choose to renew.)
    Anyway, hopefully the content will improve…

  • Interesting write-up, Yaro and the first I have seen that actually told me anything at all as to how the course was structured. Doesn’t sound like anything I would pay for … in terms of the university-style teaching approach. I had to endure a number of ISD (Instructional Systems Development) course … even taught in that field briefly, and Brian would certianly have to pay me to take the course rather than the other way ’round. May be of great value for some, though, whi are interested in getting down to that level, as a great deal of the “how to” material on the Internet is poorly written and constructed.

    I do want to comment though on Brian’s apparent policy on affiliates. He’s given a number of top bloggers advance info on the course, which is, of course, great marketing, but apparently there are no affiliate links for the common man. I wrote Brian directly on this as well … no answer to date … doesn’t seem to me … a way to generate that sort of ground swell viral interest. It rather makes the program look to those of us on the outside looking in as a sort of “insider’s club” deal, which would seem counter to most marketing efforts. Interesting approach.

  • Hi Dave,

    One of the discussions was about subscription sites being an alternative to affiliate programs (as these may be coming to be seen as a kind of spam).

    Instead emphasising joint ventures with hand picked individuals.

    This may explain their attitude to an affiliate program. Or, they may just be very busy with the launch and still getting around to it.

  • Need to go little vertical targeting newbies and students, you can find readers paying for your content. Better to build a community first with specific readers.

  • I must admit my first impressions are that the content is very light at present and I will feel a little disgruntled if within the three month period it’s not fleshed out in more detail.

    I totally agree with the case study side of things though I guess the ‘Learning Sells’ program is in itself a good example of exactly what they are preaching. Perhaps they can dissect it and use it as an example.

    Affiliate Program – I’m sure I saw Brian post a comment somewhere saying there would not be any affiliate programs so it’s much to my surprise to see that you have one in place with him. Not that I mind more just a kind of observation.

    I’m still on the fence at present and I’ll probably have a dig around more in the content before I make my mind up to test their refund policy.

  • I’ve joined and I’m actually really excited about it because it has opened up an idea that I just didn’t think of before. I haven’t been through the teaching material yet but it certainly seems very well organised and I like that the forums are so active – there’s lots of help available if we get stuck.

  • This was a fair assessment of the course and mirrors what I have experienced. I too found it a little too academic for my tastes, but my main issues with it were technical difficulties arising from not having a hi-speed connection. I live in rural Canada and the tbe best I can do is a Hughes.net satellite connection which is only marginally faster than dial-up. This made most of the multi media impossible to access. I also realised quite quickly that in order to create the type of teaching programme that ‘sells’, I would need additional software that was going to be pretty expensive and I am not able to justify that type of expense at the moment.

    Consequently I asked for my payment to be returned under the guarantee and this was dealt with the next day, with no further sell tactics. I really appreciated that.

    Although the programme did not work for me on a number of levels, I liked the forum aspect, and I am sure that given the right product to promote, this method will be effective.

  • I signed up for the course last Sunday and it is the best course I have ever taken regarding website design and doing business on the internet. The focus is on the benefits of knowledge and how to present the information in a way that the information is retained. It shows how to take the online student to a new level of perception and with that comes more needs to be filled.

    This is far beyond university style learning. It’s engaging, relevant, interactive and cutting edge.

    It’s about taking knowledge, raising its perceived value, and selling it.

  • I probably won’t purchase the product for now…
    But I am very impressed with your clear and concise review.

    It is the review that taught me a lot about presentation.
    Thank you

  • HI, Yaro.
    I Totally agree with your opinion that’s I like a casual talking, and surely a formal talking is made me so so boring, U know, I ‘m student college so that’s style would put me to uncomfortable reading

  • Hey everyone. As far as the content being light, we’re only one week in to a 12 week program. Content is delivered multiple times per week going forward.

  • Excellent review, Yaro.

    I joined a week ago and agree with your assessment. I hope the content gets more specific… the “teasing” about what’s to come in the next 12 weeks is starting to frustrate me. With a guarantee that expires within just 30 days, I fear Brian and Tony will lose members too impatient (or skeptical) to wait.

    But I agree with you that anything developed by Brian will be top-quality and I plan to stick with it. I’ve learned a lot… not just from the training materials, but as has alread been mentioned, but using the course itself as a model.

    Re: Affiliate program, here’s what Brian said on his blog: “I don’t really believe in general affiliate programs. Hand-picked joint ventures, yes. Actual members promoting the program? Sure. But unless I can take the time to personally walk you through what it’s all about, or unless you have personally experienced the training and can whole-heartedly recommend it, I don’t think it’s appropriate to have a bunch of people trying to sell something they know nothing about.”

    I agree with that (unique!) approach.

    Yaro, so far I have not seen any forum participation by the top bloggers who became members and are pitching the course (except for a couple of posts in the “introductions” section). One of the reasons I joined was because of Darren and others and the general idea that charter members would work together to make this course great. The idea of learning from the likes of Darren and Andy and Maki and YOU, in addition to Brian and others, was a huge selling point to me. But so far, nada from them.

    I hope you will be a participating member. I’ve alread learned so much from you through your blog, the idea of learning even more from you on the topic of creating a teaching/membership site makes me drool. :-)

  • Sounds like a site I will have to look into.

  • Happy Halloween!

  • The course is really good and interesting… some people think that it is really difficult to sell “what you know” because they think only like a “tech-savvy” person that finds all the information by using Internet (and most cases for free) but there are many people that are shocked with the new technologies and trends and they need an expert in order to walk through this information age safely. There are many opportunities to sell what you know. Remember: information is not the same as knowledge.

  • You have delivered a fair and detailed assessment Yaro, answering my many questions and “filling in some of the holes” for me. Your solid review certainly has generated some interesting conversation!

  • @Bonnie – I don’t expect to spend too much time in the Teaching Sells forums. I spend most of my time in my own Blog Mastermind forums help my students and I pay Daniel Scocco to also help out, so for most of the big bloggers you are hoping to see in the forums they just don’t have the time.

    You might see Andy Wibbels there though – I think he’s decided to be active and really loves Brian’s work.

  • I suspected as much, Yaro. I do realize how busy you must be, and that your own subscribers come first. Was wishful thinking on my part. A gal can dream, can’t she? :)

  • Hi Yaro

    Thanks for this post, I’m interested. As a guitar teacher that has been teaching guitar for 30 years and a teacher of information technology, I’m no doubt interested.

    Tony Hogan

  • jef

    Thank you for this review. I am more inclined not to join.

  • Fascinating review. I really appreciate an honest review and this one showed the good and bad of teaching sells.

    You’re honest revew makes me think of joining blogmastermind where I suppose have none of the bad comments on teaching sells :)

  • Tom Noon

    Yaro,
    I have enjoyed your blog and insights and actually purchased this program based on your review but had a less than satisfying experience. The systems link with Pay Pal was somehow messed up (per email I received from teaching sells) and although they had my registration, I wasn’t set up to receive the courses for 2 days so I cancelled my subscription. I may be wrong, but if they can’t get their systems right, I am frankly questioning the course itself. Hopefully, I’ll have a better experience with the refund!

  • One of the big problems I see with the course (which I am still doing) is to do with launching the product.

    The people who launched this product had huge traffic and so could link with others with huge traffic (yes I do mean Yaro and Darren – more power to their arms).

    This meant they could generate lots of interest and lots of students very quickly.

    For the rest of us in the blogosphere . . .? So it could mean lots of work to design the site and then (at least initially) gain few students.

    One of the big problems I see is interactivity. Forums are part of the design and important. But when they get popular there are heaps of posts and so people become less inclined to read and interact. They are trying to deal with the problem at the moment by tweaking the forum structures. It seems more of a problem with the approach – success = lots of participation and commenting which leads to less participation and commenting.

    It would be possible to prevent this by restricting the number of students, but then this would have financial implications which we wouldn’t like.

    It is remarkably good on marketing.

  • ’m still on the fence at present and I’ll probably have a dig around more in the content before I make my mind up to test their refund policy.

  • I was looking into this as my next gig to learn, I think I am going to wait a few more months till this recession turns a little bit around. I am interested in it though and thanks for the insite of the system.
    Larry
    aka Darkman.

  • Typosquatting: A web surfer misspells a merchant’s website name and is sent to the affiliate’s website.
    (In advance, the affiliate registers domain names using anticipated misspellings.) The affiliate website then
    redirects the user to your merchant. If the user
    makes a purchase, the affiliate is credited.

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