How a YouTube Following, an Email List, and the Principle of Reciprocity Helped Benjamin Anderson Earn $8,000 Within Two Weeks of Launching His Udemy Course
Once a web developer, Benjamin Anderson has been teaching video game design full time for a year and a half. He’s created a number of games and published a book on the program’s scripting language, GML.
Benjamin has created 150 YouTube video tutorials on GameMaker, which have received over a million views—many of them coming from his 27,000+ channel subscribers. He also earned over $8k within the first two weeks of launching his Udemy course, Make a Platform Game and Learn to Code with GameMaker Studio.
How did he manage to do this? Check out his tips below to find out how you can implement the same types of strategies for success.
Identify a Niche Audience and Target It
To be successful on YouTube, I knew I needed to identify a niche. I decided to create videos for beginner GameMaker users because I didn’t think there was anyone teaching this group effectively. YoYo Games, GameMaker’s producer, focused their tutorials on advanced users.
I put myself in the shoes of a beginner and thought, “What kind of content would I want to see if I were new to GameMaker?” Then I decided to create videos that were upbeat, informational, and fast (ideally <20 minutes).
Reach Your Niche
I created my first video and posted about it on an indie gaming-focused subreddit that had 12,000 followers at the time. This resulted in 1,000 video views in a single day.
By posting relevant content, I also received lots of “upvotes,” which helped others in the forum discover my video.
Build a YouTube Following
To grow my YouTube following, I needed two things: more content and more views.
My first video quickly turned into a series of six. And then over the past year and a half, I created new videos frequently and regularly to build my following. I now have over 150 videos on my channel.
In order to increase video engagement, I responded to questions I received in the comments. I also took suggestions on which videos to create next. As I launched new videos, I promoted them in that same subreddit to gain attention from new followers.
Reciprocity—A Helpful Tool
Next came the true key to my success, reciprocity.
In the summer of 2014, I launched a Kickstarter for my new ebook, GameMaker Language: An In-Depth Guide. I promoted my book to my YouTube audience, and a lot of them bought the book as a thank you for all the free content I had provided.
Writing an ebook was a great way for me to build my mailing list. Those who purchased my book were also eager to buy my course when it live. They appreciated the discount I gave them for their continued support of my work
YoYo Games also realized that my content could help them, so they promoted my Kickstarter on their blog. From this one promotion, I received $2,000, or around 35-50 backers.
“Reciprocity has been the single biggest key to my success. My content gave people a lot of value for free for a year and a half, so when I came out with my book and my course, a lot of people bought them to thank me. They were definitely interested in the material, but they also felt the strong pull of reciprocity and wanted to give back.”
Build an Email List and Use it Well
I knew I might want to branch out my product offering after the book, so I needed a way to stay in touch with my customers. I figured the best way to do this would be an email list.
Everyone who bought my book was auto-added. I also put an opt-in to my website. These two things alone built my list to ~1,000 people.
I use my list to send out a newsletter that covers things I’ve learned in the past week. At the end of the newsletter, I link to my videos, my book, and Udemy course, but the true focus of the newsletter is delivering value, not sales.
Promote to Your Audience
When I launched my course, I knew I had a few ways to promote it. I created a YouTube video announcing my course two weeks before it went live. I also put a link to my course in a lot of my YouTube videos.
“In my eBook, I included a link to my course. I also included a link in the automated thank you email that gets sent out each time someone buys the book.”
Lastly, I leveraged my email list: I sent out two emails (Email one & Email two) the first week that my course went live. The first one was about my book, but I used it to mention the course too. The second was was very focused on the course.
Reward Your Customers & Audience
I wanted to reward my previous customers and audience with discounts, so I gave my email subscribers a significant discount ($49 instead of $119). I wanted to thank these people as they had been the ones who had bought my book. I also gave my YouTube audience a half-off coupon.
When I gave people discounts, I made them valid for just two days. This made people feel time pressure and encouraged them to buy right away. When a number of people wanted a few more days to redeem the offer, I had an excuse to email my audience again to extend the discount. This resulted in more sales.
“All in all, 70% of my sales came from existing customers and 30% came from my own promotions through YouTube and Twitter.”
Takeaways | Seven Steps to Boost Course Sales
- Identify a niche audience: Content created for everyone is targeted at no one.
- Reach your Niche: Find where your customers spend time online and and promote your content there.
- Build a YouTube following: Create engaging videos and respond to comments.
- Reciprocity—A Helpful Tool: Giving away something for free may get you something back in return.
- Build an email list and use it well: Deliver value, not sales.
- Promote to your audience: Promote with how you currently engage with your audience.
- Reward for loyalty: Provide special incentives and discounts, but use deadlines to encourage them to act fast.