Danielle Leslie is an online course creator and growth strategist for startups and personal brands. As founder of the Founder Course Alchemy, she helps brands and startup founders create & launch online courses. She previously worked as a course launch strategist at Udemy where she helped influencers including Guy Kawasaki earn collectively millions of dollars by monetizing their content & expertise through online courses.

She has created 4 courses that have over 50k people enrolled around the world.

In this interview produced by OF10podcast, Will Lucas (OF10podcast host) and Danielle Leslie discuss personal branding and why nobody signs up for your online course.

Note: This portion of the interview is derived from the audio interview heard on the OF10podcast with Will Lucas. To hear the podcast, subscribe in iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

This interview has been edited for length.

Will: So, you’re an expert in likely the biggest challenges for startups, online marketing. And you’re the expert not just for technical startups, but you help almost anyone who is just trying to find an audience and get those people to use their products or services. So, how does one find their niche? How do I separate myself from the thousands of other people who are trying to sell courses online, for instance?

Danielle: It’s actually pretty simple. There are a couple keys that really separate the folks that stand out in the market from those that don’t. The first thing you need to do is find your topic, and the next is finding your audience. Start to think about who your perfect customer is. To begin this process, maybe sit down with yourself and ask, “Who is that person that I’d love to work with as their consultant?” Take an inventory of previous clients you’ve had or anyone who you’ve seen in the market that makes you say, “If I had a hundred more of them, I’d be a happy camper.” Really figure out who that person is; who that real-life person could be? That next step is to find their “Point A” to “Point B”, or as I call it, their “zero to hero” statement. Ask yourself, “Where is this client today?”, “What are their problems?”. Once you have that down, then you go out and find those people that look like your perfect customer profile and interview them. This is where you can ask a series of questions and really get down to understanding what their biggest challenge is and what the biggest obstacles or misconceptions in achieving their goals are. There are always many misconceptions in the market and you need to figure out what those misconceptions are, or what those “big lies” are. What are the things they’re likely being told about how to grow their thing that you know isn’t the truth? What are they being misled to believe?

As you continue to develop your perfect customer profile, figure out maybe three big misconceptions they have or lies they’ve heard that a lot of other folks in your industry are telling them, through one-on-one phone calls and interviews. In the end, you’ll have who your perfect customer profile is and what their misconceptions are. Then, you’re going to build your unique framework, or your steps to success in overcoming those misconceptions in the market.

Will: So, let’s say that I’ve been on this road for some time, and I think I’m doing all the right things, but I’m not breaking through and growing my audience or selling my online class to meaningful numbers of students. What are some typical things that I’m getting wrong? Is consistency my issue? Have I not been doing this long enough?

Danielle: I’ll tell you right now that is has nothing to do with consistency and nothing to do with the amount of time you’ve been doing it. I know this because I went from no email list and no subscribers, and in 60 days grew to 1,500 subscribers. That’s not a huge number to some people, but it’s pretty significant considering that I also did a $20,000 course-launch in those 60 days to that list. So, I literally went from zero subscriptions, with no social media followers, no email list… I wasn’t really out there in my niche, but I quickly built a list and was able to monetize it to that level. But, here’s why you’re having trouble building that audience; the first thing is that you haven’t developed that perfect customer profile and you haven’t gotten super-specific about who you customer is, and what those questions are that keep them up at night. The second mistake is not believing in yourself as an authority. You need confidence to position yourself as an expert. Whenever you’re putting together content in your niche, think to yourself, “Is this something someone else could have created?”. If you look at the headline, the title of your content, the description – ask yourself, “Could someone else in my niche have created this?” For example, if I created something that said, “How to presale your courses”; this is something I see all the time? Because guess what? Everyone and their momma in my niche can write that article. Instead, I say, “How I made over $8,000 in seven days, pre-selling my course, even when I had no email list.” That is my story and that is something that I’m pulling from my “brag bank” and putting right into my headline.

The last thing I would say is understanding where you’re sharing your content and where you’re looking for these people. You’re probably spending way too much time creating the content and not enough time sharing it in the right places. So, when you’re interviewing those perfect customer profiles, ask them, “Where are you getting your information? What blogs do you frequent? What private Facebook groups do you belong to?”.

Most likely, if you’re really struggling to build that audience, you’re not sharing your content in the places that you’re customers are actually hanging out.

Hear the podcast episode in full here.