Does Teaching Sell?

Brian Clark of CoppyBlogger fame has launched a new service that is being lauded as the premier place to learn the ins and outs of starting a membership based online business.

According To Brian, one of the most viable business opportunities for new entrepreneurs on the Internet is to create "interactive multimedia learning environments that deliver knowledge worth paying for." This is especially true as the "free content model" becomes more and more difficult to execute in this age of information saturation.

I tend to agree with Brian about one thing: content differentiation is necessary. And if you can teach people an important skill, using visual and audio media, your chances of differentiation are quite good.

My one quibble, especially since this model is going to explode while Brian Clark teaches wannabes, is that the model is not sustainable. It doesn't scale well over years. In fact, I expect that you might get a nice burst of members at the beginning, but soon the "unique" information you provide will become common knowledge, and your product won't be worth its price any longer.

So this points to the need for a perpetual stream of new-content. But multimedia content is much more difficult to produce and edit than textual content. So while someone like Aaron Wall with SEO Book can just edit his PDF file as SEO methods change, it wouldn't be so easy with video or audio. Think of how much information has been *removed* or *modified) from SEO Book over the years. It just wouldn't work well for multimedia.

The moral of the story: if you like the prospects of constantly producing and reproducing multimedia content, and have a niche skill to offer, then Brian's Teaching Sells method does indeed point to a good business model. But if you're more in the mood for a business model that scales well over time, you might want to look elsewhere.

  • So what is the answer? If you are saying the free content model is dying, and the paid content model is suffering from not being able to scale, what do you feel is left?

  • Rob,

    Unless you’ve got a tremendous investment in production values, the marginal difference in updating multimedia content is pretty small.

    Teaching Sells’ production values are so far surprisingly low. VERY simple Flash items, some podcasts that anyone with a copy of Audacity can produce in less than an hour, and some screen cams. Lots of little pieces, so changing any one of them is pretty simple.


  • I understand what you’re saying here Rob. I believe its the definition of “scale” that we’re talking about here. If we’re talking about appealing to thousands of users and then satisfying those thousand with fresh content constantly and making new “camtasia recordings” or whatever…yes…destined for disappointment/failure. But if you’re targeting the proper subset/niche (in my case a highly concentrated one at the high end of an industry)and provide them with ANALYSIS and insight vs. regurgitated bits of information…you can keep them coming back. You can almost become your 1-man Forrester Research for that niche. If it’s already covered well, etc…then pick another niche.
    You are absolutely correct when you say that hundreds of wannabes out there will begin doing “” and become disillusioned quickly though. I’m planning my successor already…a well paid version of me that will keep this going so I’m not a slave after 12-months.