Teaching Spanish Courses Online | Thinkific Success Story: Luis Pelayo


Teaching Spanish Courses Online | Thinkific Success Story: Luis Pelayo

[Tyler] Hello, and welcome to TeachOnlineTV. My name is Tyler Basu, and I’m joined today
by a very special guest from Mexico, actually, Luis Pelayo. Did I say that correctly? Pronounce that correctly? [Luis] Yes, in your American accent, yes. [Tyler] Exactly, and Luis has been using Thinkific
to teach Spanish courses, and he actually – he went through a challenge earlier this
year, called the 30 and 30 challenge, where we put together some training to help online
course creators enroll their first 30 students in 30 days, and he went through the challenge,
he implemented everything that he learned, and he more than doubled what our goal for
the program was. We wanted him to have 30 students and he ended
up with 70 if I’m not mistaken. After that challenge, and in the end of course
you know, you’ve done a great job since then of enrolling students into your courses. So I just wanted to thank you for your time,
for spending some time with us today, and for allowing us to learn more about your journey
as a course creator, and some of the factors that have contributed to your success as an
instructor, so Louis – thank you so much. [Luis] Thank you, Tyler. It’s a pleasure for me to be here with you. I apologize for my English; as you know I’m
not a native English speaker, but I will try to do my best. [Tyler] No worries, that sounds great. Now I know I just introduced you a little
bit there, but could you tell us, just tell everyone who is listening, and who is watching
this, just a little bit about yourself, your background, and how you got into creating
online courses. [Luis] Yes, thank you very much. I’m Mexican, I’m a native Mexican Spanish
speaker, I have a PhD in philosophy, I worked for 12 years in the business of publishing
magazines and books and editions. We started to create online courses three
years ago with my sister. We tried to create a business to teach Spanish
as a second language, because we detected the market some, certain needs, and we wanted
to offer a product and a service that filled these needs in the market, so that’s what
we do. [Tyler] And you know, one of the reasons why
I’m intrigued by your story is because you know, we have a lot of people who create courses,
and, but, they are worried that you know, if there’s already courses about that topic
out there, and language is a perfect example, because you know what, there are a lot of
places people can go to learn Spanish or to learn other languages. There’s a lot of courses. So how did you, you know, how did you differentiate
yourself I guess, or how did you – how did you put together like, some kind of a unique
value proposition you might call it, on your course? Because you’re getting into a very competitive
space, a very competitive topic. So what was your approach when you created
your course on this particular subject? [Luis] Yes of course. Well the first thing I would like to say to
all online course creators, is that you have got to be very patient, very patient because
we aren’t doing this business in parallel with some other activities. You cannot dedicate 100% to the online course
business and expect immediate results. You have to have a second plan. You have an alternative, because it’s going
to take a long time to get success. [Tyler] Success doesn’t happen overnight? [Luis] No, but you know that yourself. You know it has taken three years since we
first produced our trademark, we bought the web domain, etc. We started to create the idea of the project,
and we’ve been in the market for I could say. one and a half year, and we are everyday struggling
with how to get new customers. As you said, language courses are a very,
very competitive product, and you as an English speaker might know very well-known products
and services to learn Spanish. I will not say the names because I don’t want
to make them promotion, but that’s the real problem we are facing here – how to let people
know about us. We have a built-in web page. We have designed and developed our courses. We have teachers, and we are struggling everyday
to let people know about our business. [Tyler] So, can you walk us through, I mean
I know that you, know this past year, you’ve got a lot more marketing for your courses,
but the first step is usually creating a course, right? So can you walk us through, when you were
first starting, you know, you decided you’re going to teach Spanish. Walk us through the process of creating your
course. Were you using Thinkific at this point, or
did you create it elsewhere, then find us later, and you know, what kind of technology
were you using at the time? [Luis] We arrived at Thinkific 6 months ago,
so at the beginning we were – first, we had the idea we wanted something we didn’t know
a course on Spanish or something related to travel, or something related to the Mexican
culture – we didn’t know. We started to study the market and we detected
a need and the news that there are 21 million students in the world studying Spanish right
now, and Spanish is becoming more and more important every day in International Communication
– you might know that Spanish is the second most important language in International Communication
after English, and of course the second most spoken language in terms of number of speakers
after Mandarin Chinese and is the third most used language in social networks on the internet,
so Spanish is be coming every day more and more important, and Spanish speakers are everywhere
they are virtually everywhere in every country if you are a perfect example of that because
of your being Canadian – you are married to a Spanish speaker from Salvador. We take the benefit of having very good product
– a very good service that focuses on the teaching, not the difficult aspects of the
language. We have many examples of programs that focus
on teaching on grammar structures or learning a lot of lists of words, long list of words,
prepositions, grammar, conjugations, and then the students end by saying well it’s very
difficult – Spanish is very difficult, and the perfect example is when the students of
college or high school in the United States for example of study Spanish for three four
or five years and all they can say is “Hola! Me no habla Espanol.” That’s what they can say. And so we detected the need of having a new
approach to language teaching, and we started, well, this is our unique value proposition:
trying to make the Spanish line process easy and intuitive and subconscious process, and
we created the course with this focus [Tyler] Right, and in terms of content – like,
what kind of content is in the course – are these video lessons? Is it audio? Is it like, what – how are you transferring
your knowledge of the Spanish language to your students? [Luis] Well, we offer two different products:
online self teaching courses and live classes with Native Spanish teachers, and of course
the heart of these products and services are our webpage the heart is – the center of this
product and service is our web page, and at the beginning, we developed our own web page
with a web designer, we try to figure out what it should have – we tested it, we added
new things, etc. and, six months ago, we came to Thinkific and discovered that there were
experts that were doing what we needed, and it was very easy for me – for example – to
add, to take off, to include new things without having a web designer – without previous knowledge
of web design or programming. So, the web page is the center of our product. In our page, Spanish-to-Move, which is the
abbreviation of our motto: “Spanish – Learn Spanish today, it’s time to move forward.” In the web page which you can find two different
products: online courses – you can study them at your own pace and your own time, at your
own rhythm, and live classes with Native Spanish speakers. And these courses are divided into 5 levels:
from absolute beginners, to basics, intermediate, and advanced students, and also a travel course
if you need to learn certain useful phrases when traveling, and our webpage, to book live
classes with different teachers who have different accents depending on the specific accent you
want to learn. For example: the Mexican Spanish accent, or
the Colombian or the Spanish accent. [Tyler] Oh, so you’re actually connecting
students to Spanish-speaking instructors based on like, geographically – based on which countries
they are in so that they can learn that specific accent. [Luis] Exactly, and these teachers work for
us. And, we offer these online courses, and the
perfect mix is having an online teacher who can guide you in this process. For example, we recommend our students to
study three or four or five lessons depending on the course, and then having one live session
to have feedback and to study again, and to ask questions, etc. to our instructors. And, for example, let’s take the example of
the elementary Spanish course. It is 45 lessons. All of our courses have 45 lessons, and each
lesson consists of audio lesson, video lesson, and text lesson – it’s basically the same
content. First, you have to read the text to have an
idea of what is being said in Spanish, then you have the audio to get used to Spanish
pronunciation sounds, and you have a video with simultaneous translation into English,
like the subtitles of a movie, so you can listen and at the same time read how it’s
written in Spanish. So it’s kind of interesting because it’s a
new approach to learning a language. You listen, you read, and at the same time
you learn how to write, and you can read to have an idea – a previous idea on the topic
of a lesson. We started by the very elementary contents. For example, how you can say water, how you
can say cheese, etc. – we have few words – the most used words, just the useful vocabulary
you are going to need in your daily life. Not example lists of words you’re never going
to use. [Tyler] Yeah the Practical stuff to help you
actually – [Luis] Yes right [Tyler] That makes sense. And so does every student have access to an
instructor, or is it that like included in the pricing, or are they paying extra to get
on the live call? How does that work? [Luis] We have different products. For example, we have self-teaching course,
which includes only the 45 lessons. You can book by separate, you can book live
classes with your teacher – for example, you don’t want the online course – you just book
10, 5, 20 sessions with your instructor to discuss the things you want to discuss. We have a business program, for example, and
the person who enters here and book live classes with a business instructor focuses on what
they need for an interview, or you can mix both of them, and you can buy an online course,
plus the Skype lessons. You can mix them with whatever you need. [Tyler] That makes sense. And, so are you – you’re using Thinkific to
charge for those live sessions? Did you take the payment through the course,
or how does that work? [Luis] Well, first of all, I would like to
say to all our course instructors and online course creators that we have everything under
the Thinkific platform. We have pages – we offer different parts and
different custom links in our Thinkific page, and we have different products – everything
on thinkific. And, we have used integrations. For example, you use Mailcheap for the automatic
workflow, we use PayPal to charge – we cannot use the Stripe because here in Mexico it’s
not available in dollars – we use SumoMe for offering lead magnets, etc. So we are taking advantage of all these integrations
that Thinkific offers. And the specific part of instructors – we
have the page of instructors as if it was the page of a course on Thinkific, and then
when they want to book the class, we redirect them to a different platform on our scheduling
platform. We use some provider external to Thinkific,
and we charge via PayPal. [Tyler] Okay, that makes sense. [Luis] The thinkific platform doesn’t offer
the scheduling service, but in the future when it’s done, we will use it. [Tyler] Okay, cool. Sounds good. So, no, that’s very interesting. I like the format that you have created for
your courses – your students can go through the content on their own, at their own pace,
and whenever they want to actually speak to someone and get some practice, they can do
that. They can set up a call with an instructor. Now, one thing I want to talk about is marketing
your course. Now, as I mentioned when I introduced you
earlier this year, you went through our marketing challenge that we put together for our customers,
and you ended up enrolling, you know, several students after having gone through that so
I want to talk about some of the things that you did during that period to promote your
course and to enroll some new students. So, what have been some of the ways that you’ve
been promoting your course? [Luis] Well, I don’t know if you want me to
share screen to show you the specific aspects of the web page, or if you prefer that I speak. [Tyler] Yeah you can just speak because, well,
what we can do is, we’ll write an article as well, and we can put some screenshots in
the article. [Luis] Okay, at the beginning, with our old
web page, we didn’t have lead magnets, we didn’t have form registrations, we didn’t
have anything of the suggestions that I received on the 30 and 30 course. And they started by talking about the pitch
– the sales pitch, the copy of the page, and we started to create this idea – these pictures
to attract people. Have you ever tried to learn a language? Have you ever tried Spanish courses? Do you already speak Spanish? You don’t? Well, we can offer you a solution. etc. And we offered a lead magnet that was a second
– you know, teaching I learned from the 30 and 30 course lead magnet, and we are offering
right now a free ebook on the 15 essential tips you have to use when trying to learn
a foreign language. In fact, it applies to any language, but we
are speaking about Spanish, and you can download the free PDF or ebook. And we started to create this automatic workflow
– we don’t use Convertkit because we already had our list on Mailcheap, and we are more
familiar with it, but we started to create a workflow with these people who have downloaded
the free ebook and, also, the people who registered to the free lessons we are offering for each
course, because we also offer free lessons to try our courses – you can, for example,
enroll in a course and try four, five, or six lessons for free and decide if you want
to buy the full course. And all these ideas helps grow our list, and
we email every week to all of our subscribers free content – for example, an article on
the difference between the verbs ser and estar in Spanish, and it’s kind of confusing for
native English speakers, and we offer different articles each week on content. And we also promote our contents – our blog,
our courses, and our free ebook, and our social networks. We have five social networks: mainly Twitter,
Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest, and we try to create a relation with people
interested in learning Spanish, and what we try to offer is – another part of our unique
value proposition is interesting contents. We are trying to offer in our lessons cultural
aspects of Mexican or Hispanic culture. We are trying to offer interesting contents
on philosophy, psychology, history, and it’s not the typical lesson you will learn at the
school [Spanish]. We’re trying to offer interesting contents,
and that’s – well, that’s what we do. And we also have made an investment in Google
ads, and that’s basically how we market our courses, but the great problem we are facing
here is how to bring more traffic to our web page. [Tyler] Right, right, okay, so just just to
summarize some of those things that you put together: so, one of the first steps was to
work on the sales page for your course. You made sure you had more content, more information
about your course, some of those questions that really spoke to the challenges and the
pain points of your target market. So you had – your sales page was optimized,
then you created a lead magnet, which for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is
like – it’s just a free resource – something that you give away in exchange for somebody’s
email address. So you created an e-book – The 15 Tips, it
was, for Learning Spanish, what did you call the lead magnet? [Luis] The 15 Essential Tips to Learn Spanish [Tyler] Okay, and so you were giving that
away for free to get people on the newsletter, and then you’re sending free content to your
newsletter on a regular basis, like, articles to your blog maybe other articles to find,
your videos on YouTube, etc. but, at some point in those emails, you would promote your
course to them, right? [Luis] What we have seen is that – emails
that offer sales or discounts have not the answer we expect. People don’t open, or people unsubscribe
from our email list when we offer discounts or we tried to sell something. [Tyler] Yeah, you know, and that’s totally
normal, that’s to be expected, because there are people out there who – all they want is
free stuff, and they don’t want to buy anything, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing to get
those unsubscribes. Like, even at Thinkific, whenever we send
out emails every week, too, and most of it’s all content, most of it’s all resources,
but, you know, whenever you have, like – we did Black Friday not too long ago. So, we did a Black Friday deal for Thinkific. It brought in a lot of customers, but it also
brought in, or, I guess got a lot of people to unsubscribe, as well. So you just, you kind of gotta – you know
– weigh and expect that whenever you pitch, some people do unsubscribe. And that’s okay, because those are the people
who probably weren’t going to buy, anyway, and if what you have is good and if it’s
a value and helps somebody, then the people who are interested will take advantage of
it, right? So you ended up with – you basically had a
sales funnel put together – the sales pitch, your lead magnet, your follow-up emails afterwards,
and so, when you went through that – the 30 and 30 challenge what did you do at that time
to get people to take the lead magnet and get into – and get onto your newsletter? How are you promoting the lead magnet? [Luis] Well, the most powerful way I found
was integration with SumoMe – this pop-up that appears in a web page. At the beginning, I had this list builder
who comes from the bottom of the page in a very polite manner, and we have had good results,
but I discovered that conversions doubled when we implemented the pop-up and now, if
you enter a web page, you will see that the pop-up follows you everywhere. Well, except the page where you are just actually
buying, and it’s been very interesting, the results we are getting with it. We have been averaging – an average of, let’s
say, 9, or 8, or 9 new emails everyday right now. [Tyler] Okay, cool. Do you know – and so, do you know, like, what
percentage that is of how many people per day visit your site? [Luis] Yes, I have the analytics. Some of them are very interesting, and we
have about 15% of our visitors become subscribers. [Tyler] Okay, okay, great. [Luis] We’re having different results of visitors,
but that’s the average. [Tyler] Okay, no, that makes sense. And, so, for you, the next up it sounds like
it’s going to be scaling up and getting more traffic to your site, because you’ve got a
lead magnet, you have a conversion rate, you know how much you sell your course for, you
know how many people that are on your email list becomes – end up buying your course,
so you should be able to work backwards from there and figure out what you can afford to
spend to get someone to your website and, knowing, like, how – you know, say you get
a hundred people to your website, 15 people on your email list, and out of 15 people in
emails, how many people become a student – if you can work backwards from there. Now, in terms of getting people to your website
in the first place; so, you mentioned you’re doing some things on social media; you’re
creating some free content as well like blogging. So, do you have your own blog? Do you have YouTube? Or where are you putting this free content? [Luis] We have our own blog, we have different
categories, different topics – for example, language-learning articles, travel articles
from different Spanish speaking countries, attractions – tourist attractions, we have
Spanish sayings, we have free podcasts in Spanish, we have different categories, and
we publish regularly on our blog and that’s the content we offer via our emailing workflow. [Tyler] Right, right, okay – that sounds great. So, I got a couple more questions for you
in terms of the equipment and, like, for recording and actually creating your content. What kind of setup are you using? Do you have, like, a microphone? Camera? What sort of things you using to make your
courses? [Luis] Well, regarding texts and videos, we
do them on our personal computer, and the recordings were in a professional studio – we
went with the sound engineering – that’s what, I’m sorry, it was part of our biggest investment. We paid some engineers to record and to edit
the sound, etc. and now we are only working on marketing the course. We are not producing any more lessons, because
the courses are complete right now, but but let’s say we worked on our personal computers
and professional studio. [Tyler] Right, right, okay. What would you see has been your biggest challenge
with teaching online and creating online courses, and, if you could tell us what that challenge
is, and if somebody else is facing a similar challenge, what could you say to them to help
them, you know, overcome that or get through that? [Luis] Yes I know, well, I wrote something
here, but the first challenge I have to face is how to maximize the use of my time. I am busy, I have my work which takes me most
of the day, and the first challenge is – try to separate times for working on your project,
and be consistent every day – every day, and try to turn off all distractors, and concentrate
on your course, because you need to be very, very consistent, very disciplined, very persistent
to launch a course, and most of our online course creators know this. And the second is that, I really had to read
and to learn many things every day. For example, as a Spanish teacher, I didn’t
know anything about marketing. I didn’t know about sales funnels, I didn’t
know about programming, I didn’t know many things, and I had to learn, and I had to read,
and I had to study, and I had to watch videos, and I had to reblog articles and many, many,
many other things that have taken tons of hours, and you have to be willing to learn
every day. Google Analytics, managing workflows, sales
funnels, everything. And it’s just a new world for me, and that’s
a challenge, because you have to be willing to learn, you have to be open – to listen
to some people who criticize your work, who make suggestions. At the beginning, we started with an idea,
and then we had a feedback – 30 minute feedback from Brian Tracy. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him. [Tyler] Oh yeah, yeah, of course. [Luis] He’s a Canadian, too, but he lives
the United States. He’s a best-selling author, and we won a contest
with him, and we promote our product on his web page and we won a coaching poll with him
and, practically – in a very polite manner – but practically destroyed our product. “It sounds difficult,” “the web page
is not responsive,” “it’s not working,” “it makes it difficult – the process of
learning,” and it’s hard to start all over again and, well, you have to be open as a
course creator to critics, to suggestions, and to learn and implement new things once
you consider it was over – well, it was never over – the work is permanent [Tyler] Yeah, yeah – that’s a really good
point. I think we always need to be learning and
improving, and we will never get something perfect. Even if we think it’s perfect, it may not
be perfect to somebody else, and so they’re going to give us some ideas that, you know,
we didn’t even realize were options. So I think that’s a good lesson that you’ve
shared there is, you know, have patience. Give yourself time to learn all of the different
things you need to learn because, at the end of the day, if you create an online course,
and you’re trying to promote yourself and get customers, you’re being an entrepreneur
– that’s as entrepreneurial venture. [Luis] It’s a live business. [Tyler] It’s a business it’s an online business,
and there’s a lot of pieces and moving parts in an online business, and so it does take
time to set up all those parts but, you know, if – [Luis] Yeah, this is the first project we
are going to have for the rest of our lives, so this is the time and – another challenge
I would like to share with our online course creators is that, regarding to price, how
to price your course. I have been watching the videos from Greg
– he has an online course on how to price your course – and he was talking about the
advantages of valuing your work and your product, and consider a fair price. Because we – at the beginning – we started
to offer our courses as the best option in the market in terms of price, and then we
discovered that – that was not our most important value. Our most important value was the method, was
the course, was the content, was the love we put in our course – the personal attention,
and we are actually increasing our prices for next year, and we are having sales, we
are announcing the price increase, and it’s because of what I learned from Greg in his
course. [Tyler] Yeah, yeah, and that’s – you know,
pricing is a big topic as well. We have seen a lot of people – a lot of people
do that. They’ll start off at a lower price point just
to prove the fact there’s a market for the course, just to get their first few students
enrolled, get some testimonials, get some feedback, improve their course, and then,
as they improve their course, they increased their price over time, and so I’m glad to
see that’s happening for you and, absolutely, if you know that the value is there, and you’ve
got case studies of people who’ve been in your course, and you know it can help people,
then you should absolutely be charging what the course is worth and not under-charge. [Luis] Another thing is the completion rates. In certain courses the completion rates are
very easy to have, because it’s a practical technique you learn for doing something. In case of languages, you never say “I speak
the language. I really know how to speak Spanish this case,”
and completion rates are low, because people don’t persevere when learning a language. I don’t know if you yourself have started
studying a language or so, but, what we can see is that many people quit when they’re
starting a language, and so it’s difficult to have a completion rate in our case. [Tyler] Yeah, yeah, that’s true. I can imagine you know the challenge there,
because learning a language never ends – I mean, there’s always more to learn, but perhaps,
like, having – you know – a very basic level, or, you know, an intermediate level, an advanced
level or, courses for different – you know, you’ve got the course on travelling, so
here’s everything that you probably need to say while traveling. [Luis] Yes, at the airport, at the hotel,
at the park, [Tyler] Yeah, so that might – I can definitely
see why, if somebody is about to go to the airport, or about to go stay in a hotel, or,
you know, about to go travelling, then, at that moment in time, they’d be more motivated
to complete that specific course or that specific part of the course, if it’s very, very relevant
to a specific situation. So, I just wanted to wrap up with one more
question. Thank you so much for, you know, spending
the time with me on this call and for sharing, you know, your story with us and some of the
things you have been doing. We like to try to inspire people who are not
yet creating online courses to start doing that – to start sharing their knowledge, whatever
it is that they know, whatever it is that they know how to teach, you know, to transfer
that knowledge to others by creating courses online, and so you’ve done that, and you’ve
been doing it for several years now, and you have had many students learn from you, so
I’m just curious; what kind of impact has sharing your knowledge and creating courses
had on your life and, you know, how is your life different from what it was before you
started teaching online? [Luis] Well, the first thing you have to take
into account is that we all have things to share. We all know many things, and people know many
things. You would be surprised on how many knowledge
people have. The thing is that – you have to share with
them. You have to share with people what you know
if you’re an expert in a certain field, and the first satisfaction of being online course
creator is the satisfaction of sharing – giving someone something that you have received,
and that you have learned during your life, and some people will learn and will use this
knowledge. And second for me has been very satisfactory,
having students who write a testimonial, write reviews, and say “This course – this is
helping me.” “I understand this.” “My teacher is great, she is teaching me
how to do this, how to say that,” and then listening to them expressing in Spanish – it’s
very, very satisfactory. It’s very – it’s a great satisfaction for
me. [Tyler] Okay, that’s awesome. Well, Louise, thank you so much, I really
appreciate your time, and we will definitely link to your website below the video and so
if anyone wants to get in touch with you or just learn more about your courses, is
the best place we can send people or..? [Luis] Yes, yes, and there’s a form – a contact
form there, and our about us page, and frequently asked questions, and etc. It’s all there. [Tyler] Okay, perfect. Well, thank you so much, and I wish you all
the best. [Luis] Thank you, Tyler, for this great opportunity.

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2 thoughts on “Teaching Spanish Courses Online | Thinkific Success Story: Luis Pelayo”

  1. Learn Spanish Online - Spanish To Move says:

    Thank you, Thinkific, for featuring us! Muchas gracias, amigos. 🙂

  2. Liliana Ruiz says:

    Great interview… I'm in the process of my first online course creation with Thinkific in Spanish, talking about my two self-published books. As a podcaster, online courses creation is a must. Thank you!

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