How Rosanne Ullman Created an Online Course to Share Her Passion for Grammar with her Memoir-Writing Customers and All Writers

 

  • Course Instructor: Rosanne Ullman

 

  • Website: writemymemoirs.com

 

  • Course Topic: Grammar and Writing

 

  • Interesting Stats: 20-year “test market” because adapted from a successful course taught in person for 20 years
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1. Who are you?

I’ve had a career as a professional writer and editor for many years. In my contract work, I specialize in the professional beauty industry. I also own two businesses in the self-publishing industry: Write My Memoirs, which helps ordinary people write and self-publish their memoirs and other books, and Home Memoir, which creates books that capture the love people have for their homes. I have a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s famed Medill School. I’m the author of the children’s book, The Case of the Disappearing Kisses. For 12 years I was an elected member to an Illinois district’s K-8 school board and served some of that time as vice president. I now live in Sarasota, Florida.

2. What’s your course all about?

The Write My Memoirs Grammar and Writing Course, aimed for people whose first language is English but appropriate for new learners as well, covers both fundamental and fine points of English grammar and includes tips to improve writing.

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3. What makes you an expert in this field?

I have a master’s degree in journalism, 40 years of writing and editing success that includes a frequent online presence at sixtyandme.com and boomercafe.com, and five years as an admin for the very popular Facebook group page “Grammar Matters.”

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

The student becomes a much more sophisticated writer by learning to be correct with the grammar rules that tend to stump people. Students also learn the distinction between strictly observed “rules” and those that are looser, grayer or antiquated.

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

All writers and everyone interested in either learning or brushing up on grammar. The website I already had, writemymemoirs.com, has traffic and members who are trying to become authors, so that helps. I’m an admin for a grammar page on Facebook, so I can make those 12.1K members aware of it also.

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

When you’re good at something and passionate about it, too, you want to share! For people who desperately want to be able to express themselves in writing, I feel that I’m providing a highly appreciated service.

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?

I created the original course in the early 1990s. I was thumbing through the catalog of an adult continuing education program, and there was a note on it listing courses they’d like to offer if they could find instructors for them. One was a proofreading course. I thought, “I could do that.” I was always looking for extra income, and I’d been a proofreader/editor for long enough that I knew I could create a course like that.

I called the program, got an interview and was accepted to the faculty. All I had to do then was create the course! That was my first course. Students began asking for more, so the program gave me the greenlight to develop “Good Grammar Is Good Business,” which I taught for about 20 years. When I stepped away from teaching, the program gave me ownership of the materials I’d been using, and I knew right then that someday I’d adapt the course to an online format. 

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

I say “yes” to a lot of things, so I’m accustomed to pushing self-doubt to the back of my mind. I figure the worst that will happen is that I’ll create it and no one will buy it. That never scares me, since all it costs is a lot of time and a little money. My self-doubts come more from sitting around with time on my hands. As long as I’m working toward something, I keep moving on it. Aging helps. I watch other older people start to wither, and that scares me more than failure.

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

I guess I know that so many people feel the same way, even when they seem self-assured. Some of that is being my age – 67. You’ve seen everyone succeed at something and everyone fail at something and you just respect the persistence to get out there and try. My husband and I used to drag our kids all over the country – a trip each summer. On one trip, we stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi, because casinos were always a draw for us even though our children did not like that very much. I wanted to play poker, but I was intimidated by the “regulars” who spent their days and nights at the poker table. “Rosanne,” my husband said to me, “you’re smarter than all of those people. Just go in there and play.” That simple little pat on the back whispers in my ear whenever imposter syndrome lurks.

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

It took me about a year to adapt the in-person course to an online format. I was doing other things simultaneously, though. Creating the original course took probably a couple of weeks of working more intensely.

11. How did your first launch go?

Um, I’m still kind of on my first launch and it’s going slowly, but I’m not putting much effort into it because I’m just so busy. I do put off marketing because I don’t enjoy it.

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

I use my website’s blog to preview and then announce the launch, and I follow up on Instagram and Facebook both on my personal accounts and the business accounts, and I send out an email to the website members.

13. Where does your traffic come from?

Everywhere! But it’s largely from people in the United States. I’m surprised that other English-speaking countries do not necessarily account for more of the Write My Memoirs traffic than just random countries that do not have English as a language.

14. Which content do you like producing the most?

I had fun writing the examples. I thought it would help students stick with the course if I used my own life stories as topics for the examples. When a friend took the course to give me feedback, she said, “Hey, I’m in here!” I’d forgotten to let her know that I mentioned her in one of the examples that came from my childhood!

15. What online course platform are you using?

I developed my own process to create this course. I was kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I’d never done this before, and I’m not a tech person but I’m fearless when it comes to teaching myself that kind of thing. I used a combination of wave-video.com, voicespice.com and Windows Movie Maker.

16. What is amazing about this platform?

I was able to secure a great deal on a price with wave-video, which offers tons and tons of visual and audio effects plus music snippets. But you can create only 5-minute videos, so I had to use Windows Movie Maker to put it all together. For voicespice.com, the cool part was that it’s free to record your voice online, and the quality is very good. I always try to avoid having to download software or an extension.

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

 I wish wave-video didn’t put any time cap on the videos. 

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

I was looking to do this as affordably as I could and to create it by myself with just some self-training.

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

My website is WordPress, and I have a tech guy who’s good at that. In addition, my website offers a unique timeline feature. Our authors fill out the important dates and events in their lives, and this information automatically shows up as a personal timeline to give them cues as they write their autobiographies.

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20. How many students have you served so far?

 I would rather not say.

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

Also would rather not say.

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

There’s no additional cost since the website has to be maintained anyway.

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

I didn’t document what I was doing, and if I let a few weeks lapse between working on the course I sometimes had to re-figure out how to perform the various steps. That was just ridiculous. And I’m still trying to determine how best to advertise without spending a lot of trial-and-error money.

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

 It gives the website an additional level of expertise and broadens the services available. And it gives the owner (uh, me) a path toward retirement through passive income. That’s huge.

25. How has your personal life changed?

People like to hear about the course, but I wouldn’t say my life has changed ☺. If the passive income stream builds, I will hire more editors to do the work I currently do with our memoir-author customers. That will free me up to do whatever is next for me!

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

I’m sorry, the course is too new for me to have these anecdotes. But I know how helpful my grammar instruction can be to people. There’s a guy on Facebook who private messages me regularly for help. He is Iranian and teaches English to his Iranian students. He develops quizzes for them and often runs the questions and answers by me.

He is so grateful and asks whether he can send me gifts or what he can do for me. Another guy on the Facebook grammar page is from the Dominican Republic and loves the English language. He also is grateful when I help him to write something that he’ll post so he can be proud of the post. The English language is the gateway to a good job for many people. Providing a way for people to improve their language skills can improve their lives immensely.

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?

Be patient; you’re in for a long haul! It’s like a lot of things – if you’d known what you were getting into you might not have had the energy to begin. I think we’re better off being naïve about how much work things take. But I’d also always say: stick with it. Again, what have you got to lose?

Be industrious; you may be surprised at how creative you are. The saying is that when people are on their deathbeds they never express the regret: “I wish I’d spent more time at the office. I wish I’d worked more.” I guess I’ll be the first then. Why go to the beach when I get more gratification from writing my children’s book or creating my course? I’ve been lucky to have both family and work. I like the balance. But I think a lot of us let ourselves off the hook and just waste time when we could be making money, learning new skills, testing our abilities and creating something of value to other people. 

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?

Don’t be afraid to reinvent this wheel. Everything changes so rapidly, and your idea for a course or for the course creation process may be the next big trend.

How to create an online course.png

How to create an online course.png

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

Join Our Free Event:

The Ultimate Online Course Conference

March 29th - April 4th

Registration Closes In

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

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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