The Online Courses Industry That Is Filled With Junk

The online courses industry collectively stands at 100s of billions of dollars per year. It is a fact that most of these courses are junk. The ‘fake gurus’ sell you a ‘dream lifestyle’ that can be seen in the backdrops of their videos. Of course, the gurus spent some money to lease that Lamborghini or to fly to the Fiji islands but the lifestyle that they have built is often coming out of your pockets.

My friend Faisal Khan, shared this video that you might find interesting.

Most of my working career, I haven’t touched a course with a 10 foot pole. Because there’s so much junk on the internet, it’s rather difficult to find real value from the junk.

The first course I bought was in 2013. It was a scam. The founder of the course has lost the case against the FTC and is paying $17 million dollars in fines. Hopefully I’ll get some of the funds back.

The second course I bought was in 2020. I found a lot of value in it. I recouped my investment within 10 days of buying it. One of the reasons why I chose that one was because it was for professional marketers, there was a long interview process and they didn’t accept everyone.

While there’s no hard and fast rule on what to buy and what not to buy, I wanted to write a bit about the red-flags you should always watch out for. There can be real value in the courses, but it is a bit like finding needle in the haystack. Read below.

  1. If there are membership level upgrades, it’s a flag. It isn’t necessarily a scam but it could be. Most sellers whether in courses industry or not are trying to raise the average order value. In e-commerce we often do that by offering bundles and tiered discounts. But it’s a flag. So you can think of it as strike # 1 and drop it if you don’t find any other dirt.
  2. If you can’t upgrade membership levels, without skipping a level, it’s a big red flag. E.g if the coaching offered is gold, platinum, diamond and to buy diamond you first have to buy gold and platinum, you’re just setting yourself up for a big disaster.
  3. If the core niche of the trainer is that he makes money by telling people how to make money, get out. Don’t pay him anything. If he makes money by running X and Y businesses that you’ve real evidence of, but also does coaching on the side, then you should be safe.
  4. If you are encouraged to earn revenue by being an affiliate for his course after learning from his course, get out. It’s multi-level-marketing. You buy his course and to recoup your investment you sell his course to someone else and the loop goes on.
  5. If at any point during the sales pitch, he makes the business sound easy, quick or having a too good to be true returns, get out. What seems too good to be true is often too good to be true.
  6. A course with true value will have a trainer that has a proven record of maintaining a certain business, does coaching/course on the side to replace consulting in order to maximize return of his time. A true trainer never over-commits or over-promises. He paints a true picture of how the returns could look like. For example in the Facebook marketing industry, I’d go for trainers that teach 2-4X ROAS instead of the trainers that teach 10-30x ROAS. Real gurus will tell you it’s going to take time, blood and effort and despite that you have 70% chance to fail.

Remember, vultures capitalize on your insecurities. Real coaches don’t do that.