“How to” author, Vivien Schapera shares how she and her partner built an online certification training, and what they learned along the way.
Under pressure from the pandemic, we were forced to build a new business on the internet. We established an online training program, with multiple courses and multiple levels, called CrystalHealingTechniques.com.
Here’s a video that gives you some background:
We did have a choice – we could retire – and that was a very tempting choice. It was hard to be at retirement age and have to choose whether to build a whole new career track or go home. But the promise of potential was too strong to resist. Of course, a website launched in 2017 was seriously out of date, so in 2021 we did a complete overhaul. Having navigated the jungle of templates and plug-ins, we have constructed a 400-page website and our own mini-web on the internet. We offer courses from introductory to instructor level, certifications at the Bachelors and Masters levels, and very importantly, free courses, free demos, blogs, vlogs, radio shows, podcasts, a YouTube channel and coming soon – the Health and Healing TV channel! This will be on a new TV streaming network called the Everyday Womens Network, to be launched in the second half of 2022.
The internet isn’t a “thing” called “the internet.” It is a web (its other name) of many different “things” that function in diverse ways and in multiple layers. The four main concepts that apply to the internet are: Entertainment Arcade, Reference Library, Market Place and Commercial Catalogue. These four dynamics overlap and interact with each other in a compelling presentation that informs, entertains and transacts. Internet users enjoy and respond most to presentations that offer all three experiences, and feel cheated if one of the experiences is omitted.
It is very important to look at what already exists on the internet, aka “the competition.” We could have chosen to offer courses on Udemy, a learning platform, for example, but the impetus to build the website came from outside us. We made a lot of naïve assumptions about the motivator’s skill and knowledge, and never even bothered to do our own research into online courses and what’s already generally available. We only looked at what websites there were that specifically offered instruction in crystal healing.
When you build an internet business, you need to think of the physical world and follow the same business principles. A physical structure must be located in the right neighborhood, with an excellent street address, easy to find, enjoy curb appeal and be comfortable to your target market. Every single one of these dynamics still apply, and the answers can be much harder to identify. The most important part of your address is the name of your website. Getting that right is key. In fact, so key, that “keyword” is a major internet driver. Once you have chosen your name, you have to make a very big investment in getting the name recognized by search engines to climb in rank. Anything less than page one on Google is worthless. Your name and address become your identity, and you need to thrive via that identity for a long time. There is no going back – you have to get this right without the benefit of hindsight – unless you ask, ask, ask others so you can get the benefit of their hindsight.
The biggest problem is figuring out who to ask. The internet is even more specialized than medicine. At least if you have something wrong with a bone or joint, you know to go to an orthopedist. In this regard, the internet is opaque, with a lot of conflicting information. One of the reasons is that today’s innovation is becoming obsolete while you are updating. Nobody can keep up, because it’s an impossible task, resulting in a rapid burnout rate, especially in social media. You have to be your own general contractor, pulling together a team of appropriately skilled artisans who can help you. For example: Just remember, the designer who can make your website look pretty (give you curb appeal) probably knows little else about your internet success. One branding and marketing expert, designed us a stunning-looking home page … without a single word on it. Not one. If you don’t know why that’s an egregious error, then you’re like everyone else in the brain trust. I had to deduce the error six months after launch when I was the only one noticing that our home page was still failing to appear in a Google search. Hint: SEO relies on keywords.
The other opaque aspect of the internet is how the different internet entities and dynamics relate to each other and how best to harness them. What am I talking about? Well, for example, there’s SEO, SERP, the media, social media and YouTube. How do all those fit together? Well you may ask! The best insight to work with is that none of those is “only one thing.” They each have multiple hooks, at multiple layers, that mesh into the web, and each has chosen its own ways to do this. For example: YouTube is social media …isn’t it? Or is it a reference library? Or is it entertainment? Or is it a search engine? Or what? What in fact is YouTube??? The truth is, it is all of the above. Not only that, it’s ever-changing. That’s one of the difficulties. If you consult a book or article on the topic that was published two years ago, the information could be severely out of date. Look how much Facebook and Instagram have changed in the last two years. Furthermore, some social media platforms hook into the grand scale of the internet, and some deliberately don’t. For example: If you google a topic you may access information shared on Reddit, Quora or Pinterest (all social media platforms) but you won’t access information shared on Facebook and Instagram.
Even with the whole world accessible to you, you must still refine your target market. Although you can feasibly reach “everyone,” you cannot satisfy everyone. We “lost” one of our best instructors because she flatly refused to “go on the internet.” We didn’t want to leave any community member behind, but in the end, we had to honor the future. By refining your target market, you can begin to strategize with regard to your name and brand, and which platforms your business is best suited to. For example, for us, it was obvious that YouTube would be our most strategic choice for introducing the world to Crystal Surgery.
Although we made some terrible rookie errors, our uniqueness, and originality was immediately appreciated by the internet. Our home page didn’t attract attention, but fortunately, other pages were instantly picked up by Google’s bots, our YouTube videos generated new hashtags unique to us within months, and the rest of our website had such strong content that we quickly got on the necessary lists – lists we didn’t know anything about, but turned out to be crucial to internet success.
In accordance with “energy cannot be created or destroyed,” the energy demands (time and expense) of building and maintaining a business cannot be changed. Yes, the internet can deliver a course or eBook very rapidly to the end-user, with no shipping costs. But, be assured that if you are building an internet business, you are the one who will be dealing with all the time demands, expenses and logistics that otherwise would be shared by multiple end-users. For example: Putting a course on the internet saves people major expense on air travel and hotel costs – but you are the one picking up those costs. It is not free to build such content and presentation, and the time and expense to the person delivering the service is gigantically increased. An 18-hour weekend training requires one teacher to work 28 hours to deliver the content. The equivalent 18 hours of instruction on the internet requires 108 hours to deliver the content – literally 6 times more hours, and also requiring at least three different professions– teacher, video producer and webmaster. Of course, the end product is different. Once a course is posted on the website, it can be used again, but any idea that “it’s done” is extremely faulty. One of the biggest challenges with the internet is the need for continuous maintenance and updates.
You cannot do everything. This is a caveat to be selective. For example: We train people in crystal healing, so naturally, we also sell crystals. It seems like a no-brainer that we would have an online store as part of our website. Right? No … wrong! We figured out how, and then, once we realized exactly what was entailed, we released the project. Why? Selling crystals online is extremely labor intensive, because, in contrast to selling one gizmo, with one photo, one description, one weight, and one price multiple times, every crystal is unique, with its own weight and its own price, and as soon as it is sold the item should be deleted off the site. Of course, we began building an online shop. But, once we ran the numbers it was blatant that for us, selling a $5 crystal on the internet costs us the same as selling a $500 crystal. It made no sense for us to invest $200 of labor to sell a $5 crystal on the internet, because we can invest that time and labor much more lucratively elsewhere. Our crystal supplies are for our students and they know how to purchase from us. The clincher? We have something very specific to teach that only we can teach. There are many, many crystal stores on the internet, plus hundreds of Facebook and Instagram live sales, and that is their sole livelihood. We can be colleagues instead of competitors and rather benefit from engaging such a big web of crystal dealers as allies in reaching our target market. Crystal dealers ask me to speak to their customers, teach them how to use the crystals and introduce them to Crystal Surgery.
A website is never “done” and it will never be a source of passive income. Building a commercial website takes longer than building a house! Maintaining a commercial website is extremely time-consuming and requires versatility, as well as a team.
Yes, it’s been a lot of work, but we are living our dream. Not only does our website have registered users from many, many countries; we also have a new internet radio show with 62 international syndications, and we will soon be launching a streaming TV channel with a huge international audience. The pandemic pushed us into fast forward mode; encouraging us to embrace the extensive opportunity of the internet; transforming our impossible dream to see Crystal Surgery in every city of the world into a feasible reality. The world will never look back, this utterly amazing resource called “the internet” is here to stay … as long as we have electricity and crystals!
About the Author: Vivien Schapera is a teacher, healer and award-winning author living in Cincinnati, OH. Vivien has written several “How to” books and many articles and blogs. Her most recent accomplishments include becoming radio show host of The Schapera Show on HealthyLife.net and the producer of The Health and Healing Channel on a new streaming TV service, called Everyday Womens Network. You can contact Vivien via the form on her website.