From Nurse to running a large and successful online course based business Jonathan has an amazing story to share. He joint founder of popular Tools For Course Creators website Also on Friday 21st of December at 1pm PST he will be doing a webinar about video cameras while you might be able to win a professional video camera worth around $3,000.
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP tonic show. This is episode 356. We’ve got a great guest with us. We`ve got Jonathan Farley. Jonathan would you like to quickly introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Jonathon Farley: Yeah, I’m a Johnson Farley. I’ve lived a pretty interesting life. I, been in medicine for over 17 years. And just recently, I’ll be four years ago. I had a major life change. And we’ll talk about that soon, but a kind of delve into the, the word press online course, market and kind of reinvented myself doing that. So, started a company and we’re real thriving on that. And just want to talk a little about that too.
Jonathon: I got my great co-host, Cindy Nicholson. Cindy, would you like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Cindy: Sure, absolutely. Thank you, John. I’m Cindy Nicholson from the coursewhisperer.com. And I help entrepreneurs who want some help creating online courses, help them map, put them together to make them great.
Jonathon: Yes listeners and viewers, I have been demoted from John there. But we thought you would be a bit confusing in having two Jonathan’s, so for this episode I am going to be John. And we have Jonathon Farley. Before we go into the main part of our interview folks, I just want to quickly mention one of our great sponsors. And that`s WP Fusion and what is WP Fusion? Well in your technology membership learning management system in your technology stack, obviously you should have WordPress. But also you should have a CRM like active campaign drip.
Jonathon: There is a numerous number of them. And what WP Fusion does it puts the communication between your WordPress site and your CRM on steroids. Basically it’s and bending the information you can share between the two systems. And give you great insights and automation of your marketing strategies. So if that sounds interesting and it should be, go to the WP fusion website. And go to their package page and if any of their package is interesting for you, you get a special offer that’s only offered to our WP Tonic viewers and listeners. And that’s 25 percent off any of the packages. All you have to do is put in the word WP Tonic upper case one words and you get 25 percent and that’s only offered on the WP tonic podcast show. So into our interview. Over to Cindy.
Cindy: Thank you John. So Jonathan, I heard you on another podcast recently and was super inspired by your story. Because I don’t think anyone ever starts out to be course creators or membership, the creators. So, so Jonathan, if you don’t mind just, if you could tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
Jonathon Farley: Yeah. So, many, many years ago I was in college for video production. I was a television production major and then I looked at that, said, that’s really not for me right now. I didn’t want to, the way my life was going on, wanted to be home more and stuff that, so I have to go into medicine after a crazy white water rafting trip. so then I became a paramedic, worked as a paramedic for probably 16, 17 years up to buy four or five years ago. But then also halfway through that session I decided to get my RN, but I’ve already knows that, when you’re working as a nurse, life can be stressful. Went from 155 pounds solid muscle to about 480 pounds. I’m in those years. So I gained a whole bunch of weight and then, handle some pretty major medical setbacks.
Jonathon Farley: And then, decided that a weight loss surgery was the path for me. Went through all that coaching and stuff like that. And I noticed a real big problem in the weight loss community, based off of how they were teaching people how to survive with this, the, you know, the stigma of weight loss surgery and stuff like that. So I saw this huge hole and then I looked into how can I fix it, so I use my medical knowledge and I created a online, service to help people navigate because one thing is when you’re going through weight loss surgery, you have to do a six month prep. Prep was like one meeting a month. So I was going through this, I was seeing all these people make all these horrible choices, so I decided to, to help them out. So I got the real medical knowledge of how to actually, deliver the best outcome for my medical knowledge with the help of our Dietitians and PA’s and nurse practitioners actually, give them the right knowledge.
Jonathon Farley: So I developed a course so I didn’t knew nothing about WordPress at that point. So what I did was I downloaded it and I started going through and it was really easy. Watched a couple of Adam from WP Kerr his, tutorials and then jumped on that bandwagon and started learning myself, got onto Lifter LMS. And I actually built my whole entire course. how did, marketed and launched within two weeks of, of downloading it and I only had two weeks of content when I first it and I launched so, but I knew the stuff, I just didn’t have it. I’m like actually shot and stuff like that. So, first thing, the first go around, I sold like, I don’t remember, it’s been so long, I think it was like 40 or 50 seats, this thing and then it took off so. Well I had like 4,000 the next time and then it just blew up from there and blew up from there because there was so many people created a presence of myself. That people jumped onto, but also the knowledge that they were getting.
Jonathon Farley: So we started a company that was, online courses and then within two years I decided that, I didn’t want to be doing the weight loss help anymore. I myself had moved on past that. So I decided to sell the company. So we sold the company for a really good chunk of change for to an actual doctor. Grant so they now run the platform under their umbrella and they actually help people in Mexico and stuff like that who fly there, they now have good quality training, for their surgeries. So kind of started this whole, this whole movement for that. So it was real nice. So.
Cindy: And where have you taken it since then in terms of, you know, you created this course, you’ve gathered all of that amazing experience of doing it now. Now, where are you now with your business in terms of transitioning from that?
Jonathon Farley: Well, I started a company with a gentleman by the name of Mark Maze and we have a, and I’m Susan Wheeler and we, it’s called tools for course creators. And that’s what we do. We actually help people with getting the right tools because one thing I noticed is going through this thing is there’s so much stuff out there and a lot of people get bad information or not really bad information. That’s the wrong way. The way of saying it’s not the right information for them. I’m doing a Webinar on Friday on cameras. You can buy a $2,000 camera, but if you have a, if your computer can’t edit that huge amount of footage, it’s useless to you. So that’s what we do. We actually teamed me up, we listened to you, and we give you courses on microphones and cameras and how to build and work for us all that stuff. So you don’t have to guess, you just know. So that’s what we do and it’s been going very successful. We’re about to relaunch the, we did our Alpha testing, we did our Beta testing. Now we’re ready to. We’re actually launching the whole thing on Friday.
Cindy: Awesome. Congratulations for that. That’s fantastic. I love how you saw the need or the opportunity created something and now you’re kind of working your way back to your original route. So fantastic, Jonathan.
Jonathon: So when it comes to WordPress and the major SAS competitors, like Kajabi, Teachable and Learnable. Where do you think, what are the real strengths of WordPress compared to its leading SAS competitors and what are its weaknesses?
Jonathon Farley: Well, the number one thing I think as you own your platform, it’s yours. So if you are on Kajabi, you say that. So or know any of these guys say they decided to sell their platform. It goes downhill quick. Your whole platform was built on their business model. So that’s one of the biggest things is you don’t own your style and you don’t own. You may be subject to what they want. If they changed their platform, your business model is not going to work as well. That’s one thing that I noticed. I wanted to be in control of every aspect of what, of what I did. So there’s a little steps that you think load process compared to the competition.
Jonathon Farley: I think because so many third party developers can help out and just the community of WordPress is so strong that if you have a problem, there’s somebody out there who can fix it for you. You may not know how to do it. You may not have the ability to; it may take you six years to learn what that guy who knows it can do in 20 minutes. And you don’t need to learn the huge things. The other thing is four years ago I didn’t know any of this stuff. And now I’m considered in the LMS and Lifter community a pretty big expert. I can help a lot of people and that’s just because it’s not easy to learn, but it’s easy to implement and find people who know it very well.
Jonathon: Just an added question. I think one of the major technologies that have changed the landscape when it comes to WordPress is Page Builders.
Jonathon Farley: Oh yeah.
Jonathon: And how they have developed over the past two, maybe three years. First of all, would you agree with that and do you think it really has changed how people should consider WordPress compared to its leading SAS competitors?
Jonathon Farley: Oh yeah. See if adding on like I am a very big expert in Elementor. I can do things in Elementor that most people would just. They see what it does and their jaw drops and you go, that’s really not that hard if you just know what you’re doing. And it just, it really, it makes it so the lay person can pick up advanced skills very quickly. But also I’m like, there’s also Elementor, or DV, Beaver Builder. There’s actually competition and competition is good in this environment.
Jonathon Farley: But it seems like they all work together and like one person builds this. So they go, oh, I can do that, so I can. So it actually a good competitiveness there. But also, as far as the ease of use, it builds them. Like we were talking about WP Fusion. When WP Fusion linked up with Elementor now they link, I can have one course have seven different paths now because of a tagging systems. And it makes it so I can now do like a choose your own adventure type stuff. So it opens up the ability of what a simple course can be by these third party tools.
Jonathon: Yeah that`s great. Cindy got a question?
Cindy: It’s interesting just in terms of the whole conversation because, whenever I’m talking to people it’s always, what platform should I use, what platform should I use? And the reservation always around WordPress is the whole fact that I have to do it myself. But I think kind of to your point, Jonathan, that’s no longer the case anymore. There’s so much support to allow you to be able to build it yourself, but also have the help behind it.
Cindy: That kind of really negates that argument all together. The ability to own it yourself and have the ability to customize it. The way that you want to really is, is a tall order to overcome. So thank you. I am kind of going to go back to some of the comments that I in terms of you talking about your journey in terms of drilling down into some comments that you made because I’m really interested is. So when you’re talking about launching your course for the first time, you said you had maybe had around 440 people sign up. And then the next time you like it that went up to 4,000 I guess number one, how much time was between your first launch and your second launch? And then how, like what did you do in order to be able to increase your sales by that much?
Jonathon Farley: Social media is your biggest ally and also your biggest resource. You have to. So I created a for the bariatric people, didn’t want to be on Facebook talking about their weight loss problems. But the thing is they’re on Facebook all the time. So what I did was I opened myself up and said, hey, this is what it is. So people could join a private group and have conversations there where people didn’t know they are part of it. And that started the ball rolling. So our Facebook group went gangbusters. It was just got hit and it was a great conversation. But then with social learning added on with Lifter LMS, it was able to take it off social learning or social network and put it on my site. So then now people are on my site talking back and forth and created community on there.
Jonathon Farley: So that opened up huge where people knew, like if you were on here, it was trusted information. So you work and we actually had. So we took the layperson off of Facebook and put them on an expert panel with Dietitians and stuff like that. But we had tier system, like if you paid this amount; you got access to this level of people and this level people. One of my biggest accomplishments came from a mastermind group that I was part of. we were just talking back and forth on Chris`s office hours thing and one of the people had had an idea. He goes, what if you did this, looked into charging insurances, what would it take? So I said I’m a nurse. I can look into that. Looked into it, found out it was not as hard as it looked, but I had to have the credentials.
Jonathon Farley: So because of who I was and what I had in the context I had, it took me about three weeks and then I was able to charge Kaiser. But the thing and like all these little companies, I wasn’t going to the doctor’s office anymore. I could walk into a doctor’s office and say, look; it’s going to cost your patient nothing. It’s going to cost you nothing. And since they’re already preapproved, I just need to code. And then it went, blew up. And. But the thing is my results spoke for my product. I wasn’t just so people noticed. And then I had one doctor’s office, who actually canceled with me because they had a 47 percent decrease in their need for surgeries. Because people were learning how to do it. And I always say like, if I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have needed the surgery but I would never have known it without going through this process.
Jonathon Farley: So that was one of the things like. So how I worked it was going back to your comment. I had two weeks, on month three I launched. So, and then I would, so it was a six month prep course, a three month preoperative and postoperative course and then a course on always. So that’s basically how it went. So, you first signed up for six months and that was if you didn’t have insurance are you have a private pay was about $700 for the whole thing. And then, the three months post op was an add on, but if you had already bought the pre-op, it was a very much discounted. So I created a community where if I hooked you in the pre-op and pre-surgery I had you the whole way. And then you can because people created.
Jonathon Farley: And one thing I did was, I wasn’t even planning on doing this when I first started. But I have a podcast that I may even relaunch it. But I did a 30 minute podcast every single day for the first year of surgery. So I actually have, so you hear me and this is what the biggest thing was, the day of surgery all loopy and being weird and you hear him the day after. And then you hear the struggle I had on day four and then how a day seven it got better. So just kind of that kind of stuff. So people really liked that. And then people got a connection with me. And one of my greatest stories I always tell and I like telling this one is on at nine months I had lost 215 pounds. And three years before that I had done a Spartan race.
Jonathon Farley: Took me six hours to do the Spartan race. And it was just a four mile run, but it’s jumping over obstacles, go in the mud, doing all that stuff. My son at the time, this was two and a half years ago, but he wanted to do it with me. And they had a kid’s race because of traffic and stuff. I couldn’t get to the race on time, so my race got pushed back. So I only had like 57 minutes to do the whole entire race. Then be able to do his race and mind you, it took me six hours before. So I did the whole entire race and I was at. This one was the easiest one I’ve ever done that because I was so much smaller and so much lighter. But I finished the race and then I heard them announce that his race was starting. So I ran four miles, then run a half mile to his race start.
Jonathon Farley: Then ran his whole race and halfway through, my son looks at me and says, you know dad, I’m just like you. And when you go from somebody who was 500, almost 500 pounds to when you were sitting on the chair for Christmas, then all of a sudden your son saying that. That’s the life changing and stuff. That’s what course creation did for me was I was able to create this community and stuff like that. So that’s what, and that’s why I decided to start Tools for Course Creators because I’ve been a nurse for so long. ICU, ER, all that aggressive stuff. I can still do it, but this is more of a passion for me right now.
Jonathon: We going to go for our break folks. We’re going to be coming back discussing with Jonathon Foley, WordPress learning management systems and his life story in general. We will be back in a few moments’ folks.
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Jonathon: We’re coming back. I think we’ve had a fascinating conversation. So Jonathan, when it comes to actually building the course where do you see some people making some fundamental mistakes that seem to happen on a regular basis?
Jonathon Farley: I think they don’t plan out their course first. You got to have something planned out first. You have to have an idea of what you want. And don’t overdesign. I always call it death by design. They want every single feature that they see out there. And I always say, what are you trying to teach? Are you teaching how to work on the car? Why do you need this fly in? And it’s crazy stuff when the guy just wants to learn how to change his alternator. And also your demographic if you’re dealing, if you’re doing an Arctic and arts and crafts building, then you need more fun interactive stuff like that. But if your demographic is a lager, that fun and stuff like that’s not going to work for you. So that’s the kind of stuff is learned your demographic. Learn what you’re preaching for or what you’re building for and don’t overdo it.
Jonathon Farley: Death by design is going to get you every time. And the other thing is how many people buy everything upfront before they have their design. And one thing about WordPress, a lot of plugins are yearly. You pay this amount per year. So then you have a took 11 and a half months to build your course. You’re ready to launch and you realize, oh, I have another huge bill now that I had to pay before I made any money. So it’s just plan and get with a good coach, a good coach who’s done it before, who can coach you and help you and assist you. Like, communities is huge. But get with somebody who can actually help you and be like, okay, that works. That doesn’t work. And so kind of like a guide. I think that’s another huge thing.
Jonathon: Yeah I think that`s great advice. Because I think people just get kind of hang up with themes, plugins. They’re important, but I think it’s the right advice at the right moment, isn’t it Jonathon?
Jonathon Farley: It really is.
Jonathon: It really saves you a lot of aggravation and a lot of. So let`s delve a little bit into WordPress because, you’re well known as part of the Lifter LMS community. But the two main juggernaut seemed to be Lifter LMS and Learn Dash. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of those two particular plug in`s Jonathon?
Jonathon: I think one of the biggest ones, is Learn Dash is a great platform as well. One thing that I have always talked about is I feel like Lifter LMS has created a true community. Chris Badgett, you have a question you can call, you can message him and he’ll answer. He’s there for you. And he, he actually helps you. So you actually get a community based.
Jonathon: Do you think he actually sleeps?
Jonathon Farley: I don’t know. I think know, I think he ends up; I was up almost as much as I do. But he has a good team behind him that actually builds a good slip. Like we’ve actually, at my company we own both platforms. We pay for both plugins and we seem to always go back to Lifter, not for the features per se, but the community it’s created.
Jonathon Farley: And that’s one thing I like about it. And but Lifter is more of a full, it’s almost a full service. They almost have everything. But the good thing is I can call up Chris and I can say, hey, let’s work on that group integration, Chris. That’s a little plug for from my business partner were always nagging him. But that’s one thing is the, a good group’s outlet stuff like that. Like having instructors being able to take students and put them in different areas and stuff like that. That’s one thing that needs to be worked on, but they all work. But you got to stick with your platform and go get one. But what I like about lifters that has membership built in. It has a payment gateway built in. it has the voucher system built in. The voucher system was one of the biggest selling points for me was I was able to create a code that could be used a thousand times.
Jonathon Farley: So I just give that code to the clinic and say, here’s your code, you give out. And then they bought a thousand seats prepaid formal. And then when their code was getting full they would call me up and then go from there. So being able to do that was huge. And then, there was a little niche that I needed to fix. So I found a developer who could make it so, I could regenerate a voucher code every time so that they could actually get a, it would regenerate a new code for them every time. That would then talk to Lifter through an API integration and then I didn’t have to do anything. It was all automated. And then, if the clinic got low, they purchased more vouchers and then the system recognized it. So just finding those tools. And that’s why I started Tools, for Course Creators is finding the right tool for the right job thing.
Jonathon: Great. Cindy?
Cindy: Maybe I can piggyback that comment. Just in terms of you decide to go with WordPress. You choose say Lifter Lms as the platform you want to use. What are some of the basic things that you think should be included as part of that course in terms of what elements you want to add to have like a robust course offered for your clients?
Jonathon Farley: Yeah, so my wife is a teacher and so it’s always good to have somebody in education behind you. And one thing she always says is you can teach somebody anything but you need to be able to test them. You have to be able to test their knowledge. It doesn’t mean like you have to grade them, but there needs to be something where they. So the ability to have quizzes built in and assignments already built in. That’s huge. And they build it and then make them as easy as you can. Don’t make them feel like they’re in school, but make them have to answer the right questions to advance. And that’s one area I think you should always strive to have is some type of question and answer kind of thing. And a good way to submit data forms and stuff like that. And that’s one thing lifter has really well is their form integration. They integrate very well with gravity forms, Ninja forms, WP forms, all those form builders. So what’s great about that is I can put a stop that like your three slash four, the through a lesson and you have to fill out this form to advance. Or you can use that a thousand different ways. You just have to think of the box a little bit.
Cindy: There’s so much more to creating a course. Then just kind of adding the content on there. And in terms of having them do some sort of activity or assignment and then adding some forms. That I think that as you say, there’s some really neat things you can do with that in order to kind of help really bit the learning the learner, take that material and do something with it. So that’s good. Okay. John?
Jonathon: We going to wrap up the podcast part of the show. But Jonathon has agreed to stay on and we are going to have some bonus content listeners and viewers. Jonathan, how can people find out more about you, what you’re up to and especially your upcoming webinars? Can you give a URL and so people might be able to join you for this webinar?
Jonathon Farley: Yeah. So we are going to be doing a webinar. It’s going to be streamed live on Lifter LMS Facebook page because Chris Badgett is going to be joining us. You can also; it’s going to be streamed on YouTube. We’re going to be sending out, some documentation on that. But you can also go to our website toolsforcoursecreators.com. The link for the Webinar will be up within the hour. So signup for the Webinar. One cool thing we’re doing is we’re going to be going over cameras all the way from point and shoots all the way up to very high end production cameras. I have a $3,000 black magic camera that I’m going to show you guys what it can and can’t do. And when you need it, and when you absolutely do not need it. And when it will, when buying a camera could break you because if you shoot this great course, but you can’t edit down the footage how it’s useless to you.
Jonathon Farley: And then the other thing is we’re going to be giving away my favorite camera for course creators for beginner course creators. So if you would sign up for the Webinar. Somebody on that call will be winning a very, very nice camera. And will be giving that away. And you will have to be on the call. And then, if you watch the replay, we are going to be doing another giveaway three weeks after the Webinar for anybody watched afterwards. There’s the little quiz at the end of the Webinar that if you pass it, and then what are we given away? Lifter LMS is a decided to give away a universe bundle. So that’s only going to be for the replay people. So, and you can actually win both if you answer the questions. So if you’re mostly really, you know that. So that`s what we’re doing. So I won’t give away what won’t tell you guys what camera I’m given away until you’re actually on the call.
Jonathon: Very wise. Cindy, where can people find out more about you and what you’re up to Cindy?
Cindy: So if you want to create a course and a little bit of help of how to design it and put it all together, you can certainly reach out to me. I can be found at thecoursewhisper.com.
Jonathon: And I’m the founder of WP Tonic. We specialize in the development of WordPress driven membership, learning management systems. Maintaining them and give your ongoing support. So Cindy`s the brains and we’re the support and technology partners that you’re looking for. We’re going to leave now. But I like to wish you listeners and viewers are happy Christmas and New Year. And we’ll be back in the first of the New Year with a discussion between me and Cindy. We haven’t totally decided what we’re going to be discussing, but I’m sure it’s going to offer you some great value. But say we’re going to continue discussion with Jonathan in the next few minutes and we’ll be back soon in the New Year. See you later folks. Bye.
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