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AP 0890: How Can I Secure My Online Course?

AP 0890: How Can I Secure My Online Course?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 890 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody, Pat Flynn here and welcome to 890 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always I’m here to help by answering your online business questions, five days a week.

We have a great question today coming in from Ron, but before we get to Ron’s question, I want to thank today’s sponsor, which is ZipRecruiter. So, if you’re hiring anybody, maybe you’re a solopreneur, you’re looking to expand, or maybe you have a large business with a number of employees already and you’re trying to fill in that hole that just kind of got made in your business. It can be very difficult, right? Finding the right candidates, you have to post to all these different jobs sites, it’s hard to find the right candidates right away. Actually there is a solution out there for you and that is They make finding the best candidates, so much easier for you because with a single click of a button you can send out that job description to hundreds of different places and you’ll find the best candidates, using their interface and a lot times, people within 24 hours will find candidates that are perfect for the position they’re trying to fill. I highly recommend you check it out and actually, best part about this, you can try it out for free. Yeah. Go to, that’s all you got to do. Try it out for free, Check it out.

All right, now here’s today’s question from Ron.

Ron: Hey Pat. Ron here. Long time listener, big fan, and I’ve got a question for you related to online courses. I’m developing a course in youth sports training and I’ve been in touch with a bunch of coaches while I do this and they’ve been really helpful. But, I had guy last week make a comment that concerned me a little bit. He said, “This sounds fantastic, I can’t wait for it to be done. Let me know as soon as it is, I’ll totally buy it . . . and I’ll share it with all my players.” And I thought, whoa, whoa, I love the enthusiasm, but I want you to share a link with your players so they can buy it, as opposed to you buying it once and giving it away to everybody for free.

I wonder, what can you do to secure a product like this? What keeps someone who enjoys your product from just turning around and giving it to anybody they want? Or should I even worry about it? Should I just be grateful for that one sale and accept the fact that it’s going to get passed around a little bit? The best way for me to market something like this is going to be to reach out to coaches and if that can lead the way to several sales, obviously that would be better than one but I don’t know if there’s any way to avoid it. Anyway, eager to hear what you think. Thanks for everything you do, all the best.

Pat Flynn: Hey Ron. Thank you so much for the question. The way it was proposed in your scenario there, I wasn’t quite sure if maybe the coach understood exactly what this was, or maybe you just misunderstood what he was saying. Maybe he did want to share it with his friends, in which case you would say, “Hey, awesome. I’d love to give you a link to share to each of your students.” If this person really did mean, “I want to share it and just give people access to it,” I mean that’s going to be a little bit different, right? And that’s where you want to protect your brand and secure it.

I will say though, I went through a situation with my course, Smart From Scratch, where I found it, and many other courses actually, that were being offered on a website that was selling the course for about 20 percent of the price. That wasn’t good. What essentially happened was somebody who had bought the course set up this website and had bought many other courses too, but then was just selling the courses for far cheaper and just in exchange giving people the username and the password that was associated with it, and like, how crazy is that, right? People do that thing? Now, that’s kind of malicious. What your coach is, and your friend was doing—not necessarily malicious but still don’t want that to happen, either. There’s a number of things that I would recommend doing. A couple things you could do is, within your course, making it accessible by username and password only. I think that kind of gives people a hint that they have create their own username and access password, which means it’s just for them only.

Now, not everybody will assume that. Some people might share the password, and it might be nice for you to say, “Hey, by the way, this is a unique password just for you, and if you’d like to share this course with anybody else, here is a link,” and you can also, if you wanted to, add sort of an affiliate referral partnership thing. “Hey if you refer this to any of your students or any other coach friends of yours, I’ll give you a percentage of this,” or, “You get access to that, or whatever, you get a month free.” I don’t know exactly the pricing model that you have, but there’s a number of ways to go about rewarding people for sharing and if you reward people for sharing, it kind of helps them assume they’re not supposed to share it.

I would also straight up, just say, “By the way, I worked really hard.” I did this with my ebooks because my ebooks back in the day were being shared very often. I would have it in the very front page, say: “Hey, I created this course or this ebook for you, I worked really hard on it. If you’d like to share this I would appreciate it so much, but know that I worked hard on this, and I spent a lot of time and money on it. If you wanted to share it, send them here, to this link, which is a sales page.” I also offer, “And by the way, you can offer your friend a coupon code,” or something like, so that they know upfront that they’re not supposed to share it.

What I would also do, Ron, in your particular situation is, if you have coaches who want to sell it to their students as well, you might be able to—depending on your pricing model, and the software that you use—I would highly recommend offering a package that’s for students and a package that’s for coaches. It’s similar to in the software world, how you might be able to offer individual licenses to a person, or the sort of developer’s license right, which then gives them access to offer to their own clients, too. In that case, that would be, like for your coaches, that would be the comparison to the developer license. “Here, you have to pay a little bit more if you’re a coach but then you can allow your students to get access to it, or you can just give your students the individual price points, like this.”

I don’t know exactly, again, the breakdown of what it is that you’re teaching but if it is for coaches and not for students then maybe there isn’t anything wrong with having it be shared with the students of those coaches. But, if there is a difference in content for either then it maybe is worthwhile, sort of creating sort of like a developer’s license type situation, or coaches’ license, if you will, to get access to that and allow them to offer it to their students that way. If you make the delineation on the sales page or when you’re promoting it, then obviously it again becomes a way for you to command the fact that they’re not supposed to share without being just like, “Hey man, make sure you don’t share this. I didn’t think you were going to share it, but I just wanted to make sure.” You’re kind of expressing that in your sales page by having that kind of model.

Hopefully that helps out, Ron, and gives you some ideas to work with. With this thing that I was mentioning earlier, I was able to get that course taken down and eventually that site got taken down, too, because other people’s courses were being sold on it for cheap, too. Honestly, sometimes you just can’t do anything about it. There’s going to be pirates out there who will steal and all those kinds of things, and those are people who probably wouldn’t pay for your course anyway, so in that case, I’m just like, “I don’t know how you sleep at night but just I hope you have some sweet, sweet dreams.” Anyway, that sounds kind of weird. I don’t even let it bother me anymore; people have pirated my stuff all the time and there are people out there who will want to legitimately pay for your stuff. And again, in the case that you shared, I don’t think it was anything malicious that was being done and again, being straight and upfront with the offerings and what can and cannot be done can also be helpful, too.

Ron, thank you so much for the question. I appreciate you, want to send you an AskPat teeshirt for having your question featured here on the show, and for everybody else listening, if you have a question that you’d like potentially featured here on the show as well, just head on over to and you can ask right there on that page.

Thank you so much and I appreciate you, and here’s a quote to finish off the day by Bertrand Russell, “Man needs, for his happiness, not only the enjoyment of this or that, but hope and enterprise and change.” Take care, and I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat.

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