About This Episode
Alexi is a math teacher who specializes in Calculus. She's really niched down in the last few years, and she runs most of her business online at INeedtoPassCalculus.com. The only thing is, most of Alexi's income is active and she wants to make the transition to passive income. She's building online content through YouTube, podcasting, and an online course.
We discuss how Alexi could format and create her podcasting content, what medium she should start with, how to build her email list, how to structure her free content, how to source feedback, and how to sell her premium content. Through the call, Alexi and I create a strategy so that she can knock out her goals one by one and begin to generate passive income.
What You'll Learn:
How to structure online content through podcasting and YouTube, build an email list, and create passive income through online courses.
AskPat 1012 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What up everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 1012 of AskPat 2.0, where I coach somebody who needs some help with their online business, and actually I'd love to help you too. If you apply at AskPat.com, I read those applications and I select a new person every single week to coach. We coach, I record it, you listen in.
Today we're listening in to Alexi Hoeft who is a calculus teacher and tutor who uses the internet to tutor people. She has a website, INeedToPassCalculus.com, and she's doing a lot; she's juggling a lot of things. You'll quickly hear about that once we get started, from content creation, podcasting, YouTube, an online course, and blogs and all this stuff. How do we balance this? How do we juggle all these things? Should we juggle all these things? So this is kind of the thing we're going to talk about today. The goal is—by the end of this call—Alexi to have a plan moving forward. So listen in carefully because there's a lot of good stuff here. I know a lot us are in this camp of trying to juggle a lot of things and just do . . . We see somebody say, “This is awesome. Do this.” We do that, and then another person says, “This thing's awesome. Do that.” We eventually end up with this Frankenstein business with a bunch of pieces put together. How do we manage all that? How do we plan it? What's best? Listen in, because that's what we're talking about today.
Before that, I do want to take a moment just to thank FreshBooks one more time today because I love them so much. They've helped me out so much since I've started my business, with helping me keep track of my business finances, from the income to the expenses to creating invoices. They also now can help you create project proposals. So if you're somebody who's just getting started and you're looking to get a client but there's a lot of other people who are fighting for that person too—I mean, you can create a very professional-looking project proposal that can give you an edge when it comes to getting hired for those kinds of things. FreshBooks really is the answer for relieving a lot of the stress and headache related to a lot of the admin and paperwork and the financials in your business too. It can even keep track of a lot of things automatically for you as well. So if you'd like to check out FreshBooks for free for thirty days—an unlimited, thirty-day free trial—all you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.
Awesome. Now, here's the coaching call today with Alexi Hoeft, who's going to teach us more than calculus today, but hopefully through her example and what she learns, how to juggle all the stuff that we're doing. So here we go.
Alexi, thank you so much for coming on the AskPat Podcast. Thanks for being here.
Alexi Hoeft: Pat, I am so pumped to be here today. Thank you so much for having me!
Pat Flynn: For sure. This is going to be lot of fun. So why don't we just take a quick moment to just have you introduce, to myself and everybody, what it is that you do.
Alexi Hoeft: Well, I'm a math tutor. So I finished math grad school in late 2016. I moved down to D.C. and just started tutoring on my own through a freelance tutoring site. In the beginning, I was doing all kinds of math topics. I was doing low price ranges, so sort of the not ideal business situation, being broad and low price. Gradually I've been able to really niche down; it's one of the best things that's happened to be over the last year, and now I really specialize in Calculus One for college students and AP Calculus AB for high school students, and I was able to get much better at my craft over the last year. I've been getting really comfortable. I really like where my business is right now. The only downside is none of it is passive. It's a lot of work. It's all one-on-one. Some of it is driving to students, although these days it's mostly online tutoring, so that's not too bad.
But I am super pumped to make the transition to passive income and right now is when I'm ready to do it.
Pat Flynn: Awesome. If I could ask you really quick—because I think it's really interesting related to your comments about niching down—in your eyes, why do you feel that's just the best thing to do?
Alexi Hoeft: Well, I was able to get so much better at what I do, because math is . . . big. There's a lot of math topics, and to be really good at teaching something, not only do you have to be able to ace a final exam on that topic, but you also have to know all of the nuances; where do the clients always get hung up, what are the common mistakes, what are the pain points, what do they tend not to understand when they try to memorize a formula? So it's this whole extra layer of information you need to know about a topic. So you can get so much deeper and so much better at teaching the subtleties in a topic if you're able to niche down and just really get good at that one subject.
Pat Flynn: Nice. Now, you talked a little bit about wanting to go a little bit more passive, because obviously doing tutoring is one-to-one and its real time, and it's your time. What's kind of the real challenge here, for you? What's the biggest kind of hurdle for you to get from where you're at now to where you want to go?
Alexi Hoeft: Well, I have some general weaknesses like perfectionism and letting technical difficulties get in my way.
Pat Flynn: Sure.
Alexi Hoeft: I would say, at this point I've done my LLC, I've created a landing page, I have the infrastructure for my email list ready. At this point, I just need to start building content. So the YouTube free library of content and then podcasting, which we'll get to later. That's more my specific question. Then also building, this semester, my online course content. I'm starting with one product. It's an emergency calculus-cramming, sort of online course for people to consume in about one day before an exam when they have no other options, and they're like, “Oh, no. I'm about to fail.”
Pat Flynn: I like that.
Alexi Hoeft: That's my site. INeedToPassCalculus.com.
Pat Flynn: So there's a lot here that I'm hearing. There's building content in the free library on YouTube, there's podcasting, there's an online course. It's a lot. I think what we should aim for is kind of creating a plan for you that you can take with you after this call, so that you can kind of knock these down one by one and kind of hit the lowest hanging fruit first. How does that sound?
Alexi Hoeft: Sounds amazing. I'm so ready.
Pat Flynn: Now, where do you want to start?
Alexi Hoeft: Well, I want to start with my free library of content because right now in the spring semester there's students going through calculus right now that need my help, and I can start attracting people with the help I can provide.
Pat Flynn: Mm-hmm. So let's talk a little bit more about this free library. What is this going to look like after its all finished?
Alexi Hoeft: So for YouTube, I think that platform is really nice for just accumulating a massive library you can organize, and playlists. So I just want to do more the merrier, just specific videos on specific topics, really all those pain points for students and keep turning it out and never finish with that. For the podcast, I was a little more stuck because it's great for AskPat to have a thousand episodes, but I'm a little worried about my podcast. If someone's coming in two days before an exam, they're going to binge my content because unfortunately, I think most of my listeners are going to be more binge listeners because they procrastinate.
Pat Flynn: Mm-hmm.
Alexi Hoeft: If there's a thousand episodes, they'll get a little bit overwhelmed, a little distracted. They might switch over to another way to study, and really my goal is to try to make it as not overwhelming as possible because that's really the paint point I'm trying to help right now.
Pat Flynn: Right. Well, with the podcast, what's interesting I have a buddy, his name is Todd, and he has a podcast helping people with financials and things like that. There's only a finite amount of information that he could share, so he decided to record like forty episodes and then just be done with it because any more would be, like you said, overwhelming. I can definitely see you doing a disservice to people if you had a thousand episodes and they really just needed all the good stuff right then and there. So what's really interesting is recording forty episodes, this was like three years ago. That's it. Yet, those episodes still continue to get downloads and every once in a while he'll see just these amazing spikes that come from likely a result of people sharing it or bumps in the search engine in iTunes, or just people just finding it in seasons kind of thing. So what's really interesting—and this is why I want to share with you, and this might be a sigh of relief—is that you can have a podcast that's specifically built to include a finite amount of information. And a good friend of mine, Chris Tucker, he did the same thing for the launch of his book. So he created a ten-episode podcast that was specifically meant to help people with their virtual assistants, and there's only enough information you need to know about that before it will get super overwhelming.
So there's the possibility of creating a podcast that's literally just there specifically to perhaps support the sort of cramming nature, and only be a limited number of episodes and that's it. I know that that goes against what most people think a podcast is, which is regularly subscribing and listening and building a habit of doing that. But you know your audience and you know what they need. What would a podcast look like for them that would just be the best value to them? How would that structure, do you think?
Alexi Hoeft: Okay. This is amazing news for me. I am so excited to hear that, because that's the opposite of YouTube. So I thought podcasting was similar to YouTube; you have to keep it up or you fall off the pages. But let's see, I would do something like your friend did. I would have a couple dozen episodes that are all of the core content that you can listen to and in a 24-hour span, and you can especially download the ones where the titles make the most sense to you and what you want to focus on. Yeah, I think that would be the right number of episodes. Have really high-quality content and then just stop producing it. It can still be a lead generator for me. Then I can keep it in mind in the future, I can still share those episodes and just keep bringing up that material.
Pat Flynn: Yep. Yep. I love it. You said it perfectly. What's exciting about that too is it's—for a student it's not going to be overwhelming, and if you position it as in the first episode: “Hey, guys. There's this many episodes. It's going to take you this long.” Train them to listen while they're at the gym or on a walk, and that's where most people are listening to podcasts anyway. But it allows you to definitely offer something different than what most people likely in your space are going to be able to do. It allows you to just get in front of people in places where normally they are unable to consume content, and so I love that solution, Alexi. Does that sound good?
Alexi Hoeft: I am so excited. It's a very empty space. I'm very lucky in the calculus emergency tutoring space. I have only found about two comparable people and no podcasts. So I'm very excited.
Pat Flynn: The cool thing about that too is that for you as the person producing this, you know that there's an end to it so that you can focus on other things. From what I've heard in people who have podcasts who have them across all industries, it becomes this really amazing generator of leads for yourself. So it would be a great way to not just serve the people you find who might find you elsewhere, and give them this other platform to listen to you to consume your content and learn, but it's also a great way to get just more people to find you anyway, even if you haven't recorded an episode in a long time.
Now, I will say that if you do have subscribers, it's just obvious, the more episodes you come out with, the more downloads you're going to get. But again, I think you have this really interesting, unique situation where you know that your target audience needs just a certain amount of information. So I would definitely go with that. That could perhaps be . . . In your eyes, like my worry is we're talking about building a YouTube following and a podcast one at the same time, but if you were to choose one because that's what I always recommend, start with one and then move on to the next, which one would it be do you think?
Alexi Hoeft: Wow, it's really hard to compare because YouTube is a much more crowded space, but there are way more people trying to get math help on YouTube because it's a visual thing. The podcasting space, I would be literally all alone and the only solution, but there's also way fewer people looking for that help there.
Pat Flynn: How long might it take you to produce those episodes? Like just recording one?
Alexi Hoeft: Podcasting episodes, I would probably keep them pretty short, bite size, maybe ten minutes long each.
Pat Flynn: I like that.
Alexi Hoeft: So I could probably do five a day and just focus on it for ten days or so.
Pat Flynn: Then that would be done.
Alexi Hoeft: Yeah. Then that would be done and I'd have this library just sitting there forever. That would be amazing.
Pat Flynn: I think that would be really cool. So I would recommend taking that approach with the podcast. When it comes to YouTube, I think that's . . . Like you said, especially because it's very visual, with what you teach, I don't know if you're going to have any sort of interesting methods by which you would show equations and show how you work through things, but the visualizations are really important. I think, like you said, there's a lot more people there on YouTube. That would become essentially what you probably thought was what the podcast was going to be, which was this regular, updated content. On YouTube, obviously the more content you create, the more opportunities there are to find you.
So I like your content plan here to get exposure, to serve this audience, but let's talk about business model really quick. I find you on YouTube or perhaps I find you on the podcast: Where do you take me from there?
Alexi Hoeft: From there in the YouTube video descriptions, and in the podcast descriptions, and in the podcast, I can have people go to INeedToPassCalculus.com, sign up for my email list, and then get . . .
Pat Flynn: Oh, really quick. I want to take you step by step, but I like where you're going with this. What would convince me to sign up to your email list there?
Alexi Hoeft: So there's the classic freebie thing. So I would probably make a delicious freebie that would be with all of these examples for some of the most challenging math problems in calculus. So there's some word problems that always trip people up, so creating a template or structure for that. Then there's really clean formula sheets you can print out before a test. So I don't know if I should have a bigger freebie with a couple of pieces to it, like a formula sheet and a problem template with some examples, or if I should stick to one.
Pat Flynn: If you needed to just . . . If you could only give me one thing but it would be the most helpful thing, what would it be?
Alexi Hoeft: It would be a two-sided sheet of paper, so a two-page PDF that would just be what you need to hold in your hands the thirty minutes before the exam to cram or review all of the main topics in Calculus One.
Pat Flynn: I think you just nailed it, because that sounds very attractive and delicious like you said. To me, you can even call it something like a cheat sheet to just really entice people to . . . I don't know if that aligns with you.
Alexi Hoeft: Yeah.
Pat Flynn: . . . Your brand. But okay. I just wanted to make sure that we didn't skip over that step. Okay. Now I'm on your email list. Fantastic. I got this two-page PDF—which I love that it's short like that because it's just giving me a quick way to do this. I think that's kind of your unique take here, is everything is just quick, digestible, but delicious at the same time. So let's keep going. I'm on your email list, now what happens?
Alexi Hoeft: There's going to be an auto sequence of emails with link to topics like some of the most challenging word problems, and what those students might be going through at that time. That's one of my hardest things about creating this auto sequence is there are general plans throughout the semester like, okay: You're learning limits in early February and derivatives in late February. Blah, blah, blah. But not everyone's on that plan. So figuring out how to time that auto sequencer, and there's some people who will join shortly before their exams, so how to help them best.
Pat Flynn: Well, if I was on your email list and perhaps you didn't know where I was, how might you discover where I am in that space and how might you best serve me from there?
Alexi Hoeft: Let's see. So, I don't understand. So besides the YouTube videos and the podcast, what do you mean find people?
Pat Flynn: Well, what I mean is like after a person is on your email list, there's a lot of different ways that you can determine, okay, what content might be best for me, specifically. So a little bit of personalization. Meaning, at least in ConvertKit, for example, and many other email service providers can do this, you can potentially have an initial email that goes out once somebody subscribes, and to provide even more value after this two-page PDF that you send me, you can learn where I'm at in the semester, for example, for perhaps a library or at least a list of stuff that would be relevant to me right now. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]
Alexi Hoeft: Ah, perfect.
Pat Flynn: Or perhaps a library is broken up into a table of contents such that I'd be much more inclined to go in there to find what I need. Because what I'm worried about is somebody subscribing, you're like, “Hey, guys. I got all this great content on the podcast, on the YouTube channel. Go find what you need.” It's going to be a little like, “There's so much stuff here. I don't know what to do,” but if you were to break it down for me, then it would be easy. So there's some easy ways to do this. You could say, “Hey, I know you might be . . . Maybe you're starting out, maybe your mid-semester and you're learning about this, or you're very close to an exam.” Either way, you can either have each of those link to a specific page on your website, for example, that just would include your YouTube videos or links to specific podcasts episodes about just, “Here are the things that you need right before you cram for an exam.” Or if I'm more in the middle of the semester, for example, maybe there's another subset of topics that would live on its own page so that when I go there, you're almost helping me weed out the stuff I don't need right now. I think that would help me just trust you even more and have it feel like that even though you're not there personally, that you're still tutoring me and teaching me and showing me the best things.
Alexi Hoeft: Yes. Perfect. I love that. I also feel a lot of times when I join an email list, I might get a little short welcome email, but that's when I'm most excited about receiving content and a lot of times I wish they would just send me the last two back-issue newsletters or something like that. So I think that would be a great way to kick people off, sending them this welcome email with three buttons they can click depending on where they are in the class, and then bam, they have an all you can eat buffet that's somewhat customized to where they are.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I love that. That way you're still able to serve a greater number of people in a tailored way. Obviously tutoring in and of itself, the one to one, is the most tailored way to do it. But I'm still getting that feeling like you're tutoring me here during this time.
Okay. So let's say that I have an exam next week, and I'm like, “I need help.” I find your stuff. I join your email list. I go to this page that just has all this amazing information that can help me. What happens next? How can I get deeper into your business model there?
Alexi Hoeft: So for some people that'll be enough, and that'll satisfy them and that's totally fine. Just my free content. For other people, they might want my online product, which will be the emergency cramming product that really holds their hand, guides them through an all-nighter or four hours of intense studying the night before when they realize that it's a little bit too late to get going right now. Here's something that is almost as good as having a local tutor stay up all night with you and tell you exactly what to focus on and what to practice.
Pat Flynn: I love that. When do you, or at what point or where do you pitch that to me?
Alexi Hoeft: Probably in all of my YouTube video descriptions and as annotations at the end. If people are just, “Okay. This is great. I'm ready to dive in to everything that's available, I'm super desperate, I really want to pass calculus,” then they can click on the links there.
On the website, in the certain free areas, I can have just little discrete up-sales; not up-sales, but little links to, “Okay. If you want to take it a step further, I have this extensive, premium hand-holding thing to take you through the cramming process.”
Pat Flynn: I like it, and don't forget the podcast, too. I think the podcast, at the end of them, you should . . . When you create that, you're going to kind of plan ahead to assume that a person might want to go deeper and will just want to get things more quickly. So you can almost—as if you're sponsoring your own podcasts.
Alexi Hoeft: That was exactly what I was going to do. Yes. I love it. So, “this podcast is brought to you by INeedToPassCalculus.com.” Then there's all that free content, and then at the end I can tell them, “Okay, go on the website if you'd like more information on L'Hospital's Rule rule or something like that.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Love it. How does that all sit with you?
Alexi Hoeft: Okay. It feels so good. I'm really excited right now.
Pat Flynn: Okay. Very cool. Is there anything else that we haven't discussed yet that's on your mind?
Alexi Hoeft: Let's see. So for the email list, beyond just that welcome email with the three bubbles, then continuing to send them good information is a little bit tricky. I guess I need to make sure to take my opt-in to the next level where I segment my list, otherwise I'm going to be stuck with a big jumble of people who maybe clicked on different buttons in that original email, but that isn't really segmented in my list.
Pat Flynn: Right. They're kind of just all over. I mean, it's best always to segment so you know where people are at. Different businesses do it in different kinds of ways, and there's definitely some super-sophisticated tools out there, which are overwhelming to me, and I wouldn't recommend those. Which email service provider are you using?
Alexi Hoeft: Right now, Mail Chimp.
Pat Flynn: Mail Chimp. Okay. I know you can do this in Mail Chimp and in AWeber, but ConvertKit, for example, is built for this. [Full Disclosure: I'm a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.] So you might be able to find a way to do it. You would want people to, when they click one of those things that says . . . One of those categories in that first email, it would essentially take them off of your . . . Let's just call it the main list, and put them into sort of a sublist. That way you can continue . . . You can almost write an autoresponder just for those people. Now you're creating like little branches, right? I would just recommend that you don't get super granular with the breakdowns and super complicated with the emails, because it can definitely turn into a spiderweb of, “Wow. Okay. Now I'm going to separate the people who are cramming but they're males and they're freshman.” It could get really, really messy. So if you choose to go down that route, I think that would be essentially phase two, because you're going to learn a lot from just implementing what we already talked about and perhaps discovering some better ways to serve those people as they go along.
But yeah, think about how you might segment that audience over time and then let me ask you: If I, I'm just loving your stuff. I've purchased, I just passed my test, I'm so thankful. Number one, are you doing anything to collect feedback from people like myself who have successfully used your products?
Alexi Hoeft: Oh, that's a great question. Right now it's done for me through the platform. People write reviews and I can take quotes from that. But I absolutely need to give people a chance, and sort of help guide them into giving reviews so I have some good quotes and feedback. How's this actually working? What would you improve?
Pat Flynn: Right. I mean, maybe there would be a fun way to incorporate some sort of . . . I don't know. I'm just riffing here, Alexi, I apologize. But for example, if a person passes their exam, they take a picture of that grade on their paper and they use a hashtag and then that just allows for your brand to get shared, and also a way for you to understand who is using your stuff. Like Twitter or Instagram—if they just give you a shout out or something, it allows you to follow up with them and say, “Hey, by the way, just congratulations on that exam. If you had a moment just leave me a thirty-second video here that I could use on my page, that'd be awesome.”
So when collecting feedback, asking for a person to just do a little bit of work. I did this on a previous podcast episode. I said, “Hey guys, if you like this episode, take a photo of yourself doing a fist pump in the air.” I had like fifty people do that after that episode came out on that first day. Then I followed up with them, with a lot of them later, I said, “Hey, thank you so much for listening to the show. By the way, if you have an opportunity to leave a review on iTunes, that'd be great.” They're more likely to do it because we've had this little mini-interaction.
Alexi Hoeft: Pat, I love that. I love the idea of going to where my clients are, which might be Twitter; not making them go to a form on my website.
Pat Flynn: Yes, exactly.
Alexi Hoeft: And having a hashtag. I'll definitely give that some thought.
Pat Flynn: So just some ideas for you. So as we finish up here, Alexi, what were the biggest things? Two part question, biggest things you learned and what are your first steps?
Alexi Hoeft: Biggest thing I learned is that there's this great news that in the podcasting space you can create a short set of high-quality podcast episodes, and then leave it be. Just have it sit there for your audience to pick up and you can share it with people in the future. That gives me my action step. I'm less paralyzed. Now I can plan out my forty or fifty episodes and record those over the course of two weeks, and get those up there to help people starting this semester.
Pat Flynn: That sounds perfect. Just make sure that when you set up the podcast and in your description or even in that first episode, you put little things in there to let people know that although this was recorded in the past, like this stuff is still very useful. Some people are going to be like, “Oh. There hasn't been an episode in a while.” Some people will just assume that, “Oh well, it's just not updated.” Well, there's a reason why. So just make sure you mention that. Then what are your first steps from here?
Alexi Hoeft: Okay. So from here I'm going to plan out my podcast episodes so I can have some really productive five-episode recording days just back to back. Really get in the groove. Then that's going to give nice consistent episodes each time when they listen.
Pat Flynn: Whoa. I love it Alexi. Sounds like you have a plan.
Alexi Hoeft: All right. Thank you so much, Pat. I am so excited to get started.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I'm excited for you. We'll reconnect later and kind of check in on you and see how things go.
Alexi Hoeft: Okay. Perfect. Sounds great.
Pat Flynn: All right. Thanks again. Oh, by the way, what's the website one more time, just in case some people are listening and they have people who they know they need help with calculus?
Alexi Hoeft: INeedToPassCalculus.com.
Pat Flynn: Love it. Easy to remember. Thanks so much.
Alexi Hoeft: All right. Thanks, Pat.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call. Alexi, if you're listening to this, wonderful job. A lot of big breakthroughs here that I think, especially long term, are going to give you so many hours back, but also so many more results too, really. I'm looking forward to following up with you in the near future. We are actually already—what are we at? Episode 1012. We're starting to reach out to people who we interviewed and coached a number of months back to see kind of where they're at. We're definitely going to bring a number of people back to give you an update. Sort of like when you watch Shark Tank and then later on you see Shark Tank: where'd they go? Okay. Well, here's what happens since Kevin O'Leery invested in this company. I mean, we're going to do the same thing here. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited for when Alexi comes back and shares some of the results with us later in the future as well, so make sure you subscribe because this is what we're doing here every single week. You can also apply to get coaching at AskPat.com. We've got another great episode coming next week. So like I said, make sure you apply now.
Now, by the way, I've gotten a lot of requests from people who say, “Pat, how do I start a podcast like this? How do I get on a call with people? How do I interview students? How do I get access to A-listers, so I can interview them as well? I want to start a podcast.” Obviously I've been podcasting like crazy since 2011. I love it. I teach it now. I can actually teach you for free and in 72 hours, you'll have all the information you need using my course HowtoStartaPodcast.com. It's a free course. 72 hours. It'll get you in there to learn how to set everything up. Not complicated. I mean, it is a complicated thing, I mean, I'm not going to lie, but I make it easy for you so that it's not complicated anymore. We're going to plan it out. We're going to get it set up for you. Again, HowtoStartaPodcast.com is where you need to go. I'm looking forward to hearing a lot of your podcasts in the future too. So HowToStartAPodcast.com. Check it out.
Thanks again so much for listening, and I appreciate you. I look forward to serving you in the next episode of Ask Pat 2.0.
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