How Ivy Summer Pivoted as a Wedding Planner to Teach Couples How to Plan a Wedding in a Pandemic

 

  • Course Instructor: Ivy Summer

 

  • Website: https://planlikeapro.rocks

 

  • Course Topic: Plan Your Wedding Like A Pro

 

  • Interesting Stats: I had 16 people (8 couples) enrolled in my course in its first year (2019-2020). Every month, I generate 3 new warm leads from the 75 or more emails added to my email list every month. I attend virtual wedding fairs and make strategic wedding vendor partnerships to grow my email list. 
Ivy

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1. Who are you?

I’m Ivy, and I’m an MBA and certified wedding planner at Voulez Events based in the Bay Area with nearly a decade of experience working with budget-conscious brides. I’ve been based in Greece since February 2019, gaining experience in luxury, celebrity, and destination wedding planning and my independent travel agency, specializing in Italy, Greece, Scotland, and Ireland.

I planned and coordinated the Guinness World Record attempt at Largest Public Wedding in 2015, introduced the annual Cannabis Wedding Expo to California in 2016, and launched America’s first cannabis art museum tours and cannabis yacht tours from 2016 through 2018. By the winter of 2019, I launched an online wedding planning course for couples who want to plan their own wedding anywhere in the world with the resources, tools, and worldwide network of a pro. By May 2020, I wrote and published the world’s first book about how to plan a wedding in a pandemic, Poise Over Panic.

2. What’s your course all about?

My course is all about relieving engaged couples of the pain points they experience in the wedding planning journey. If you haven’t planned a wedding before, you may be wondering what those specific pain points are, exactly. Couples planning their wedding can be overwhelmed by the planning process. People still want to get married during a pandemic, but large gatherings are prohibited.

My course gives couples the tools and the knowledge they’re lacking so that they can create a wedding that includes as many people as they want. The focus of the course is to help couples experience their planning journey in a way that is as exhilarating as the wedding day itself. The course is like a genie-in-a-bottle for all things wedding planning — it’s designed to meet couples where they’re at in the planning process, offer the assurance that comes with hiring a wedding planner, and the gratification that comes with the DIY wedding planning style.

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3. What makes you an expert in this field?

I wrote the world’s first book about how to plan a wedding in a pandemic. I wrote case studies based on my wedding planning experience and interviews with clients and dozens of engaged couples from November 2019, when the first COVID-19 case was discovered, through April 2020 after the first lockdown. I was one of the first wedding industry professionals to pivot before anyone else had the opportunity to do so. These are a few things that support my expertise in this field.

4. What is the transformation your course offers to the students?

The transformation that my course offers to engaged couples is a way of thinking about wedding planning that makes the tougher, dumber decisions much easier and quicker to make. It gives couples the complete freedom to choose which phases of their wedding planning journey for which they need the most professional guidance. It normally takes couples around 950 hours to plan their wedding — that’s about 121 minutes spent planning every minute of their wedding day. My course gives couples their time back so they can spend it on date nights and generally enjoying their engagement!

5. Which market does your online course serve and how did you get into it?

My course has created its own niche market for couples who are interested in DIY but appreciate professional guidance in not only wedding planning but also a coach whose expertise is in finances that are specific to relationships. The market is comprised of DIY lovers, busy couples between the ages of 25 and 34. New significant parts of my market are Black women and those who prioritize supporting Black-owned businesses. When I married my passions for wedding planning and consulting on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), I found out that my course and affiliated services were really appealing to that market segment. 

6. Why is it important to you to serve this market?

As a wedding planner who has an intimate connection with the DEIB industry, it’s both important to me to serve Black couples as well as folks in the DIY world who are looking for a professional to simultaneously guide them yet respect their desire to be very hands-on in their wedding planning journey. It’s important to me that my core values align with those of my clients. Not only does that mean I get along with my clients, but it sets me up to anticipate their needs before they even know what they are.

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7. Describe the moment when you decided to create your own course. Where were you, what happened and why did you decide to do it?

The moment I decided to create my own course was when I moved from San Francisco to northern Greece to fulfill my dream of becoming a permanent resident in the EU. I wasn’t going to be in the Bay Area to offer full-service planning when I decided to live abroad, but I wanted to continue to put my expertise to use. The best way to support my lifestyle abroad and serve my market was to create a way to create a virtual platform to accommodate both.

8. How did you overcome doubtful moments during your course creation journey?

I had to come back to my “why” during times of self-doubt. Any time I felt hopeless or nowhere near the success I wanted to achieve, I remembered that so many couples probably felt the same way (especially during the pandemic). I always have a system for accountability. My profession guarantees that people will always be relying on me to deliver on my commitments to them. When I have other people relying on me in any case, it keeps me more accountable than I would be if I were the only one relying on me. Accountability groups around sales, marketing, business development, and professional development have helped me immensely through creating my course.

9. What are some of your tricks to deal with imposter syndrome?

Every once in a while, I like to ask my friends and clients to tell me what makes me fabulous. When I ask this question, I get responses that remind me why I’m best suited for my role as a course creator and wedding planner. The answers also give me a sense of how I can communicate with prospective clients and something I can use in testimonials about what it’s like to work with me. My accountability groups normally facilitate thought exercises that snap me out of imposter syndrome-driven anxiety.

10. How long did it take you to create your course?

It took me about 7 months to create my course. That includes everything from writing the outline and the copy for all the module and lesson descriptions to recording, editing, and formatting the course on my custom membership platform. It took me a month or less to create and launch my webinar to market my course in its first launch.

11. How did your first launch go?

My first launch felt like a huge adrenaline rush! I hosted 4 live webinars at different times on different days of the week to test my email drip campaigns and determine which day and time were the best for registrations and conversions. Contrary to my expectations, my first launch was a bust even though I had between 40 and 50 registrations each time. I learned that brand recognition is more important than paying for social media ads. People have to know about the brand and the offer before they choose to buy. I learned that lesson the hard way.

12. How do you structure your launches in general now?

Now, I structure my launches to occur once every quarter. Any time I’m not in launch mode, I’m in pre-launch mode. I like to create 4 “champagne campaigns” every year where I go all out and get loud about my best offer: my course. I work my way backward from the launch date and then fill in my calendar with bite-size actions that I can take every week leading up to the launch week. About 4 weeks ahead of my launch week, I reach out to my strategic partners to cross-promote my course so that I cast a net wider than my own followers and email marketing audience.

13. Where does your traffic come from?

My traffic comes from several different sources. I have monthly traffic through the virtual wedding fairs and industry events I attend. I also get traffic from my affiliates and non-formal networking through apps like Expand and Lunchclub. Because I pioneered the Cannabis Wedding Expo in California, I also get traffic through affiliated vendors in that market segment and organic internet searches. Through my current and past clients, I get some traffic via referrals.

14. Which content do you like producing the most?

I love producing articles for different wedding publications. Written word is my primary creative outlet. More recently, I have become better at social media content and connecting with my audience through a hybrid of photos and captions. It’s really important to me to get really good at one type of content before exploring another one, otherwise, I feel like I’m spreading myself too thin.

15. What online course platform are you using?

I’m using a custom platform. I started out with Kajabi because it was the one platform out there that made me feel like I could plug-and-play. When I did some beta testing with my first cohort inside of my course, I found out what features they wish they could use on the platform. I did some more research before I made the final decision to use a custom-built platform.

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16. What is amazing about this platform?

I love that it’s a private membership platform and that it’s branded just for the course. There’s a lot more flexibility to brand it perfectly when it’s custom-built. I also love that it incorporates my wedding planning consultations booking tool right there inside the course so that couples can use my on-demand consultant feature! The affiliate’s dashboard shows affiliates how many sales they’ve generated and how much commission they’ve made over time.

17. Which features do you wish this platform would have?

If there was a way to incorporate the private Facebook group right inside of the course platform, then I would do it! Otherwise, I’ve got all the features that I want because the platform was custom-built for my course. I guess it would be cool to incorporate my Zoom consultations right within the platform so that my couples never need to leave in order to get everything they need. Let’ hope for some more amazing technological advancements in the future!

18. Why did you choose this platform over other platforms?

I don’t think I can say it enough: Something that’s custom-built may take longer to implement, but it’s the best option when you have a very specific product. I was only able to make my decision to go the custom route after extensive research and testing with customers in beta. I chose custom because it creates an optimal user experience.

19. Which other tools do you use to keep your online business running?

I use Calendly to book wedding planning consultations with my clients, and I link it to my Google Calendar. If it’s not on my calendar, it doesn’t exist! I also use everything in the G Suite, including but not limited to Gmail, Sheets, Docs, and Slides. I also use Canva and Tailwind for my social media and scheduling posts.

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20. How many students have you served so far?

I’ve served about 20 students so far and preparing to serve at least 8 more in my next cohort! I choose how many students I serve at a time by looking at how much time I can allocate to each student per quarter and place a cap on enrollment. I will only serve as many students as I have the capacity to handle, but I ask myself throughout the year, “am I ready, and do I have systems in place to handle too much success?” It’s good to think about what you have the capacity to handle and how much leisure time you want before you strive for 300 students and realize you can’t handle as many. 

21. How much revenue have you created during your first launch, and ongoing?

I made $2,000 after my second launch. The first one failed but the second one did alright because I implemented what I learned from the first launch’s mistakes. I’m slated to make another $1,000 in the first quarter of 2021. I project that I’ll make an additional $7,000 from my quarterly “champagne campaigns” this year.

22. What are you running costs to keep the online course business going?

I don’t have any running costs when it comes to money other than the $6 per month for my G Suite tools. For me, costs include money and time. I spend much more time than money running my course. At this point, I’m spending about 5 to 10 hours per week to keep the course up and running. My goal is to spend less time and more money on paid ads when I’ve completed my low-budget marketing plan.

23. What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way?

One of my biggest mistakes in my course creation days was foregoing the option to create a waiting list and marketing the course before I was finished creating it. Another big mistake was not using my strategic partnerships in the first launch of my first series of webinars to get the word out. I wish I would’ve invested more time in strategic marketing plans before I launched the first time. 

24. How has your business changed since implementing an online course into the business model?

My business has changed in a way that’s a match for what couples are really dealing with in a pandemic world as it relates to wedding planning. Because I give couples the freedom to indulge in a self-paced wedding planning course, I’m able to choose my own hours and live abroad! Implementing an online course in my business model made a whole world of a difference (considering that I live on the other side of the world now). 

25. How has your personal life changed?

My personal life has changed in a way that allows me to live where I want to live and spend most of my daytime hours doing things I love, like learning new languages, gardening, cooking, working out, and even taking naps! I get to immerse myself in a different culture and nourish my soul with activities that only exists in the mountains of northern Greece. I live in the land of Alexander the Great, right down the street from where Aristotle taught him as a child, not far from the tomb of Philip of Macedonia, and a stone’s throw from the oldest synagogue in Europe and where Saint Paul preached about Christianity in Europe for the first time. Needless to say, I’m living very richly.

26. What’s the greatest transformational story you can tell about one (or more) of your students?

The greatest transformational story I can tell about one of my students is about one bride’s triumph over planning during a pandemic. Her biggest concern is spending too much time trying to find the perfect wedding vendors for her big day, staying on track and on time, and preventing overwhelm throughout the whole planning process. She often uses the on-demand wedding planning consultant feature to get quick, personalized answers and recommendations for things that you can’t simply Google. This bride has found that the course is like an encyclopedia of all things related to her wedding planning journey, which not only makes her feel like she’s got all the right on-time information and resources at her fingertips, but it also makes me feel her transformation from worry to empowerment!

She’s got 80 guests who RSVP’d to her wedding ceremony and reception in California in early April this year. She feels like all of the course content and consultations that come with it have set her up to enjoy life at home with her children instead of spending time away from the role that fulfills her life the most: being a mom. She’s been in the course for several months now, and she’s told me that just ask she has a question about something, it’s answered in the next lesson inside the course. To hear her say that I’m with her, right where she’s at, even though it’s a self-paced course with pre-recorded content, lets me know that I’ve designed something that gives her more than what she initially expected. Especially in the unprecedented time of a pandemic, this student’s admission that my course keeps her informed with all the resources she needs to handle life as we know it now means the world to me. And I can’t wait for her wedding day!

27. If you could use a time machine and send yourself back to the time before you started out, what advice would you give yourself, knowing what you know now?

I would advise myself to continuously keep in touch with all of my strategic partners and write up some email copy to send out throughout the year to initiate cross-promotional campaigns. That would’ve set me up to create a buzz around my course prior to its first launch, and it would’ve been a great source for more social media content. I also would’ve liked to prepare my course for Udemy and different course platforms in different formats and different features from what’s available on my custom platform. Giving myself more than just one platform would be an interesting way to diversify my offering and have some form of the course to offer at different price points with and without the consultations included.

28. What is your million dollar piece of advice to those who are just getting started in their online course journey OR for those who are looking to scale?

My million-dollar piece of advice to those who are just getting started in their online course journey is to find the best ways to hold yourself accountable and motivated when you feel like giving up. Whether it’s enrolling yourself in an accountability group, setting and announcing a launch date before you’ve finished your project, or something else, go and do the thing(s) that set yourself up to keep going when the going gets tough! You’ll look back on your masterpiece with gratitude that you kept yourself accountable to deliver something you’re proud of. I know I am!

How to create an online course.png

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Would you like to learn exactly how to create, sell, market & scale your online course?

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The World’s Economy Has Already Shifted Into The Virtual Space More And Faster Than Ever Before & It’s Time To Catch Up Right Now… Or Else You’ll Risk Getting Left Behind.

The Most “Future Proof” Way To Get Ahead And Run A Sustainable Online Business Is By Entering The Exploding Digital Knowledge Industry With The Guidance Of Tina and 30+ Experts Through Online Course Talks. 

how to create an online course