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AP 0817: I’m An Online Educator. Should I Create a Subscription Service or an Online Course?

AP 0817: I’m An Online Educator. Should I Create a Subscription Service or an Online Course?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 817 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 817 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week.

We have a great question today from Amirra, but before we get to her question, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is Design Crowd. Hey, if you’re stuck for ideas on how to develop your logo, or website, or business cards, or any other images, hook up with creative minds around the world with Design Crowd.

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You also get $100 off your next design when you enter the promo code, “AskPat.” That’s, promo code “AskPat.” All right. Here’s today’s question from Amirra.

Amirra: Hey, Pat. This is Amirra Malak. I live in Hood River, Oregon and I am an art teacher. I just wanted to thank you first of all, because your book, Will It Fly?, totally changed my life.

I’ve been teaching in public schools full time for 14 years and just went to half time, so I can start working on my online art education business, called Art With Amirra. I have a YouTube channel right now, called Art With Amirra and am getting ready to create a website with paid content, paid art education modules.

My question for you is do you recommend creating a subscription service if your content is education, or do you recommend creating online courses where you pay as you go? Thanks for any help you can offer. Thanks for this awesome service you’re doing for the world. Just want to do one more offering. If you feature my question on AskPat, I will do a speed drawing for you of Back to the Future legos. Just saying you might want to pick me. Have an awesome day.

Pat Flynn: Hey, Amirra, thank you so much for the question. Oh my gosh, thank you for that offer. I had no idea that you were going to mention that. I just actually drew out. . . jaw dropped open when I was listening to your question.

My team didn’t even let me know that this was going to be that. I think they knew, because if I had done that, it would have been very easy for me to choose you. It was just based on how we normally do this. I just saw your question, not the offer. I saw it. Just want to say that also, so that people aren’t like, “Hey Pat, if you answer my question, I’ll give you this.” That’s not a reason why I answer your question, but it is an awesome bonus. Thank you so much, Amirra. I can’t wait to share this with you. This goes out at the beginning of March. Looking forward to it.

Anyway, let’s focus on you, first. What is better? What do you recommend, or what do I recommend, a subscription service for education, which there’s many examples of that, or online courses where you pay a one time fee as you learn different modules and different techniques? There’s a lot of that as well.

I’m very familiar with both, both on the student end of things and also the creator end of things. I feel like there are and is room for both in a brand. I feel like whichever one you want to start with, you do it that way.

I started with a subscription service back in 2013 called Breakthrough Blogging where it was going to be a membership site. I was educating my audience on how to get through some of the barriers that you’re going to face as a blogger and as a producer online and continually post things month over month to help people out.

That was going to be a subscription service where people would pay monthly for access to brand new content that was coming out. However, I felt like that wasn’t the best way for me to teach, so I decommissioned that.

I, actually years later, offered everybody a refund just because I felt bad that it wasn’t what I expected it to be, which was actually a really fun exercise.

Now, I’m offering, as many of you know, specific courses. I just released a course called, which has a very specific outcome, a solution to a very specific problem. In the art education world, I’m sure it could be done either way. You could pay monthly to get access to new courses and content that Amirra comes out with. You could get training.

Along with that, typically, comes some community, which is also fun. You get people to stick around and continue paying month over month, whether they consume new content or not, because they like the community.

It feels more like a membership. It feels more like a community with a subscription service like that as well. Plus, they would likely be getting some access to you perhaps in office hours, or live sessions of some kind, webinars if you will. That’s standard.

In the specific online courses, to solve specific problems, where you pay as you want to learn specific techniques, that can work out too. That, typically, for me works out much better because I teach very specific solutions very well. I feel like that’s a better way for me to deliver content. Also, I feel like, with that, when people pay for it, they know what they’re going to get.

It wasn’t very clear what the outcome was when you subscribed to and paid for Breakthrough Blogging versus, “Hey, if you pay for Smart From Scratch, you’re going to be able to validate an idea and even get some of your first customers.”

If you pay for a podcasting course, it’s going to be about podcasting and you’ll have your podcast set up. If you pay for affiliate marketing course, you’re going to have money coming in from your very first affiliate product. I don’t have those courses yet available, but those are coming in the future.

You could see it’s very clear, for the buyer, and for me, what needs to happen. With a subscription service, there is the overhead that goes into making sure people stick around. There’s churn. There’s people leaving. There’s credit cards declining after a certain period of time. That’s a part of it, too.

There isn’t any right or wrong answer. I feel like it is dependent on how you best like to teach and what it is that you want to create. Do you want to create really a thriving community that is paying month over month to get access to Amirra’s stuff, or your stuff, or do you want to have people pay one time fees and then you can combine a lot of those products down the road?

Yeah, you could just offer both and try it out and see what happens. There is no right or wrong answer. It just depends on what you want to do. Like I said, I’ve had experience launching both. Currently, I’m in the provide one solution for one particular problem camp.

I have a best friend. His name’s Chris Ducker, who has, who’s doing a subscription service. There’s also and of course, Internet Business Mastery, which is what I used to get started. The communities in those realms are amazing. They’re a major part of keeping people going.

Another thing to keep in mind is with the one off courses, you just create the course and then it’s done. Yes, you could still interact with people and even still have a community there.

With a subscription service, you’re going to have to. . . in order to justify having paying monthly, not only have potentially a community, but you’re going to have to continually come out with stuff. Looking into the future I would say even three years from now what can you imagine working better for you and the kind of lifestyle that you want and what you want to do?

Amirra, some things to think about. I just want to again, thank you so much for your question. Whether you provide that quick sketch, or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I just love that you offer that. Thank you so much.

Also, I want to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show. Thank you. We will reach out to you very soon to collect your information, so we could send that to you free of charge like we do with everybody who gets their question featured here on the show.

If you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Hey Pat, I have a question.” head on over to You can ask right there on that page, or/and you can go to AskPat Live, which happens Friday at 1:30 PM. This is every Friday on my Facebook page at We’ve had thousands of people watch every week. It’s awesome.

I’m able to answer your questions rapid fire. I don’t offer a t-shirt to everybody, but I do offer shirts and give aways at the end to some random people who come on and watch live with me. Check it out. Again thank you so much for your support. I really appreciate it.

Here’s a quote to finish off the day as always. This is from R.E. Shay. That quote is, “Depend on the rabbit’s foot if you will, but remember it didn’t work for the rabbit.” That’s interesting. All right. Take care. I’ll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.

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