Video: Craft Beer & Brewing’s Recipe for Profitable Online Learning
Editor’s Note: The below video is excerpted from the webinar “Innovative Revenue Streams for Niche & Special Interest Publishers.”
In 2014, Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine (published by Unfiltered Media), launched an online learning program for home brewers. The educational platform, composed of courses that feature video tutorials, slideshows, and handouts, has become a highly-successful product for the Colorado-based publisher and is now profitable.
But that wasn’t the case for the first year of operation. John P. Bolton, CEO and co-founder of Unfiltered Media and Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine, shared how his company tweaked the program’s ingredients in order to find a recipe that met audience expectations, while keeping costs down and increasing subscriptions.
Below are 5 tips Bolton shared in a webinar Publishing Executive hosted last fall called “Innovative Revenue Streams for Niche & Special Interest Publishers.” For more tips on honing an online learning program, as well as to learn how Kalmbach Publishing built a successful video platform for railroad enthusiasts, check out the full webinar.
A small change in pricing made a big difference in driving subscriptions. “$9.99 killed $14.99 in our testing," said Bolton. "So we rolled out $9.99 pricing and immediately sales went through the roof." The lesson, said Bolton, is to never underestimate the value proposition for the customer.
Another big factor in making the learning program a success was to use course give-aways to get people to try out the platform. Bolton said that once people experienced the platform, they were easier to sell to. Also, the free courses required people to submit their email, which enabled Craft Beer & Brewing (CBB) to market to them.
Lighten Production Load
CBB’s original plans were quite ambitious. But over time, Bolton realized that they were producing more content than necessary. They were still devoted to creating high-quality courses, but said that there’s no need to create 60 minutes of video if you the lesson at hand only requires 10 minutes. This change helped It lighten the load of the production and reduce cost.
Reduced Number of Courses
CBB also reduced the number of courses produced per month from two to one. Bolton said doing two courses was too much of a production burden and was not profitable. "By reducing the number courses as the subscriptions increased, it obviously cut our costs substantially. And nobody complained about the lack of courses. We didn't get one single email."
CBB closely examined what courses people were engaging in to inform what to produce more of and what to produce less of.
Denis Wilson is the content director for Target Marketing, Publishing Executive, and Book Business, as well as the FUSE Media and BRAND United summits. In this role, he analyzes and reports on the fundamental changes affecting the media and marketing industries and aims to serve content-driven businesses with practical and strategic insight. As a writer, Denis’ work has been published by Fast Company, Rolling Stone, Fortune, and The New York Times.