A Successful Online Course Creator Tells Us Her Secrets to Making a Living at Home: Interview with Viktoria Portyannykova

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Viktoria Portyannykova, creator of Profitable Course Academy

Do you have the heart of a teacher? Do you have some special knowledge that you would love to share with others? (Hint…when we dig deep and think about it, most of us probably have something worthwhile to share!) What if there was a way to take your knowledge and/or your love for teaching and turn it into an online course, without the added stress of figuring out how to do it all on your own?

Good news…there is a way. Viktoria Portyannykova, the creator of many profitable online courses such as Conversational Russian, is here to tell you some of her secrets on how to create online courses. She teaches how to create, successfully launch, and start selling your own online course.

In the following interview, Viktoria shares how she got started with online business and creating courses, in addition to some things to think about if you want to get started.

Viktoria, Could you give us a little history and tell us how you ended up creating online courses?

Sure, I’d be happy to.

It all began in 2007 when I started an internship at a digital marketing agency and instantly fell in love with online marketing. I’d worked at various digital marketing agencies managing interactive projects, strategizing, planning, producing – you name it. In addition to 10 years of digital marketing experience at the advertising agencies, I hold a Masters in Professional Communications with Emphasis in Advertising. My heart has been set on digital marketing for a long time now.

But, to be honest, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit in me and was dreaming about my own business since I could remember myself.

Finally…in June 2010 I started a blog, where I was teaching the Russian language to English speakers. My goal was to make lessons fun and interesting for my students, and I kept creating free fun blog and video lessons for my students and growing my blog and YouTube channel.
And while I did make some money from the affiliate sales, I really wanted to take my side business to the next level.

Then one day I came across a couple of success stories shared by bloggers who talked about how the “real money” is in creating and selling your own digital products. Immediately I started thinking about creating my first online course. I already had a good following on my blog, had tons of great comments about my free lessons, so creating an online course for sale seemed like the next logical step.

My first course was released in June 2014. It was Conversational Russian that up to this day remains a bestseller. Since then I’ve created 6 more courses for Fun Russian and they all have been very popular.

A couple of years ago I decided to take my business to the next level and use all of my blogging, digital marketing, and course creation experience to teach my students how to create and start selling successful online courses. And this is how Marketing Bistro and Profitable Course Academy were born.

How can you know if you have the ability and knowledge to create an online course?

I’ve noticed many of us don’t do something because we feel we are not good enough, or we have a fear of posing as a fake expert. This fear is common.

And here is my take on this: it all comes down to your mindset. You ARE good enough and you CAN create any kind of life you want. You just need to start. And from personal experience, I know that starting something new might feel scary.

Even if you feel you are not an expert in the topic you want to teach quite yet, you can always improve your knowledge and skills. Your success is entirely up to you.

However, if you already feel confident and are excited about sharing your experience or knowledge with your students and changing lives of many people all over the world – you are ready to create and sell an online course.

It all comes down to your mindset. If you believe you can teach, then you will teach. If you believe you can create a profitable online course, then you will create a profitable online course.

Can a stay-at-home mom really build an online course in her limited amount of time?

Moms can make their own online course too

Absolutely! As long as she has specific knowledge or experience that is in demand, she can create and start selling an online course. Creating and selling an online course (or courses) will help her generate a lot more additional income that can gradually become passive. This will allow her to have a much more flexible schedule and a lot more time to spend with her family.

One thing about creating and selling an online course is that it’s something you need to invest time into at the beginning. Once the course is created and set up for sale you need to focus on marketing it and it’s something you can do part-time.

If you have enough advertising budget and your course is a high price point course, the sales from it can often be automated with Facebook or Google ads.

Creating a profitable online course (or even a few courses) is the best thing you can do to free up your schedule, create more flexibility in your life and serve a much wider audience without having to sacrifice more of your precious time.

Realistically, what is the minimum amount of time you would need to devote to this on a daily basis?

This would depend on individual circumstances and a few other factors:

Your personal schedule and how much time you can dedicate to outlining, creating and promoting a course. If you can only dedicate a few hours a day or even a week – it’s also a good start. Any action is better than no action at all.

Your understanding of the process and technology involved and experience in creating and selling an online course.

How much content is going to be in the course?

Creating a more comprehensive high price point program will take longer than a smaller low price point course.

The last factor would be the launch date or when you would like for your course to be live and available for sale. If you’d like to launch your course within a tight time frame than you’d need to dedicate more time to creating it and launching it fast.

I too only had a few hours a week to work on my first couple of courses as at the time I had a full-time job. Sometimes I would work on weekends and late nights, but it was my own choice, as I wanted to start selling courses. It felt so hard at the time because I didn’t follow any specific program on how to create a course, so I had to go through a lot of trial and error by myself. This definitely put a lot more pressure on me and wasted a lot of my time.

Learning from someone who has already achieved success is a lot easier and will save you time, money and headache.

Juggling family work and other schedules while creating your first course is a common thing. The good news is that once you start generating profit, you will have a lot more time and budget on your hands to outsource a lot of the promotional and customer service work. You will also have the budget to run ads and sell your course (or courses) through an automated sales funnel.

Can you make a decent income doing this part-time?

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning, creating and setting up a course for sale is something that will take up a lot of time at first. Once the course is created, you will only need to focus on promoting and selling it.

Creating and promoting an online course can both be done part-time and full-time. This will be entirely up to a person’s schedule and dedication and whether they want and can do it part time or full time as well as other factors I mentioned above.

Whether the income is going to be decent will depend on a few other things. Oh, I could talk about these forever!

First of all, whether the course topic itself is going to be profitable. There must be a demand in this topic for it to be profitable.

Second, what is the price your course will be sold for.

A person’s mindset and dedication. If you believe you can AND you stick with it, then you WILL create a decent income by selling online courses.

Is this a career that a stay-at-home mom could make into a full-time career once the kids are older and she has more time on her hands?

Well, our ultimate goal is eventually creating a more or less passive income stream by selling online courses. It might not feel passive at first as you might need to learn new software, improve your skills and spend some time putting your course together and then promoting it.
Once it’s done and you’ve made a few sales and generated some profit, you will have an opportunity to outsource some of the tasks and create an automated sales funnel with Facebook and Google ads.

This is exactly what I love about this business model that it gives you a gift of a much more flexible schedule and free time.

People talk about making online courses on any topic you have knowledge about. Is this realistic?

You can certainly create a course on any topic you have knowledge about, the question is – is it going to be profitable?

To create a profitable business, you need to pick a course topic that is profitable.
With your course, you need to help your students get from point A (where they currently are, struggling with something) to point B (where they want to be, where their problem is solved).

To create a profitable course, you need to learn a little about your potential students.
And to help you understand where your students currently are (point A), you need to ask yourself these questions (and if you already have a blog with a good following or an email list then you can ask your readers and email subscribers):

  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are they struggling with?
  • How does this make them feel?

To help you understand what type of course you need to create and help your students to get to point B, ask yourself these questions:

  • How will solving these problems impact your client?
  • How will solving these problems change your client’s life?
  • How will this make them feel?

If you can help your students solve their problem with your course – you have a profitable course topic.

What kind of skills do you need?

I would say basic computer and Internet skills.

When it comes to course creation, patience and ability to learn are important, as you will most likely need to learn new skills.

Being personable is also important. Adding a little personality will make your course a lot more exciting for your students and will help them connect to the real you. I always appreciate teachers and speakers with a little charisma who are not afraid to share their personality and their story. You can even feel each person’s individual style through blog posts or emails.

Could you give a basic idea of what is entailed in creating an online course?

To create an online course, you will need to take four main steps:

  • Plan
  • Create
  • Deliver
  • Promote & Sell

While planning your course you will need to research your course topic to make sure it’s something your students will be willing to pay for. You will also need to create a quick outline of the course, come up with the bonuses for your course, and price your course.

Creating is where you will roll up your sleeves and create your video, audio or text lessons: create slides, record your voice going over the slides, and create other materials you want to make available with your course.

Delivery is where you upload your lessons to a learning management system or a course platform, create offers, set up payment options.

And finally, sales and promotion – this is where you will start promoting your course and generating revenue.

What kind of office equipment do you need besides a laptop and an internet connection?

All you need is a computer and high-speed internet connection.

To record your voice as you are going over the slides, you will need a microphone.

If you want to record yourself then you will need a camera and possibly some extra light. Just don’t spend too much money on expensive equipment. Keep it simple.

If you are planning on recording your voice as you are going over the slides (and this is how most of the online courses are made), then all you need is your computer and microphone as you’ll be using PowerPoint and screen recording software.

What is the best part of this for you?

Oh, the best part is that I love what I do, and I teach what I love.

I am truly living the life of my dreams: working on my own schedule is the best thing. There are no more boring cubicles around me. If I want to sleep in on Monday morning – I can. If I want to skip a work day – I can. If I want to try something new – and experiment in my business – I can. This flexibility allows me to stay creative and truly grateful for what I have.

I am growing my business, while doing what I love, believe in and am truly passionate about.
Can it get any better than that?

Any advice for moms (or dads) who want to give it a go?

If it’s the topic you are passionate and knowledgeable about, you simply cannot afford not to share it with the rest of the world. People need your help, they need your advice and
expertise. They need your course.

Think about how many lives you can change by creating a course and sharing your knowledge and experience with others. Think about how much impact you can have on someone’s life.

And there is one more thing…

Just recently I came across a quote by Robin S. Sharma, “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

This is what I truly believe. You might have to get yourself outside of your comfort zone at first and that might make you feel very uncomfortable. You might need to learn new skills, learn new software, spend a few extra hours a day or a week on your course… but in the end, you will have an opportunity to change your life, create passive income and more freedom in your life.

You have a chance to create the life of your dreams. Don’t let yourself live another same year and call it a life.

What's Next?
How Can You Get Started Creating an Online Course Like Viktoria?

Creating an online course is one way to make a living working at home.
You can create and sell your own course or do it for other people as a content creator, freelance writer, or very specialized virtual assistant.
Think of it as an upgrade to your freelance writing skills.

If you're ready to go all-in and become a content-creating wizard, Freelance University has an entire section dedicated to it (the online course builder, course creation and management, SEO content writing, copywriting, email marketing, how to write engaging blog posts…just to name a few).
Sign up for their workshop on the MOST in-demand skills (and which business owners need them the most).

Have you purchased any online courses in the past? Do any topics come to mind for a course of your own?

Leave any questions or comments below…

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6 thoughts on “A Successful Online Course Creator Tells Us Her Secrets to Making a Living at Home: Interview with Viktoria Portyannykova”

  1. Wow, what a comprehensive interview you have here! I enjoyed reading the interview with Viktoria Portyannykova. I liked the tip “Record your voice while going over the slides”. In fact, the article was full of great advice.

    Thanks for such a good read,


    1. Yes, Simon it is comprehensive. She really went to town answering each question! I also liked how she talked about mindset and how realistic she was about what it takes to actually make a course.


  2. Hi – This is the first time I’ve heard of the Academy, so took the time to check it out. It struck me that you seem to have all the bases covered. Regardless of what you read on many sales pages, it isn’t that easy making money online when you’re new to it and have no guidance. Many people feel they don’t have the knowledge or skills to create useful content that will engage an audience. Your site dots many i’s and t’s, making the process within reach of anyone. Bravo!

    One question – is it up to the creator to market their own courses, or does the Academy carry out any promotions to get students?

    1. I was also impressed with how thorough Viktoria is, Derek. She really seems to look at all aspects.
      To answer your question: yes, it is up to the course creators to market their own courses. But Viktoria has this aspect covered as well – she has a whole module on promotion and sales.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,

  3. Thanks for your blog which I will now follow to the best of my ability. I will be looking forward to more of your quality work.
    Thank you for your time.
    Tom Short

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