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At the start of this year I decided to try something new.

I would stop hiding behind my laptop, get out of my comfort zone, and meet ‘my public’.

But I was nervous: what if no one buys tickets? What if the course is rubbish? What if I fubb my presentation?

Robert Gerrish, he of Flying Solo fame, told me to ‘JUST DO IT’. He advised that I should stop fretting about achieving perfection – just put it out there and see what happens.


2015: Update: I now have an SEO ecourse so you can learn DIY Search Engine Optimisation from the comfort of your own home. Check it out at The Recipe for SEO Success.

But along the way I learned some serious lessons, which I thought I’d share:

LESSON 1: Organising a course is tough

Planning a training course is a lot of hard work, it involves things like:

  • Selling tickets: In the end I sold out well in advance, but it was nerve-racking wondering if the tickets would all go. Thankfully I didn’t invest in much advertising – a little bit of pointless Facebook post promotion but that’s about it. Most tickets sold to colleagues and previous clients but many sold straight from the site.
  • Finding the location: I struggled to get some venues to respond to my emails, but eventually chose the Village in North Sydney, and it was a great spot (not least because of the free parking!).
  • Food: Finding a caterer who offered more than limp sandwiches was a challenge, but Agape Organic delivered the most lip smackingly good food I’ve ever eaten at an event.

But, of course, the biggest challenge of all was creating the course itself.

LESSON 2: Writing an SEO course is like juggling jelly

I’ve run many SEO courses for corporate clients but never for real people!

My starting point was to plan out a structure that prioritised the important information into the morning (when brains are coffee fresh), and put the ‘nice to have stuff’ later in the day. I had to ensure I covered all SEO bases; although the course was targeted at beginners I wanted to be able to answer the curly questions from the more advanced attendees.

This involved a LOT of reading, a lot of research, trawling forums, asking other SEO types questions, drafting, revising and drafting some more.

It was hard work but satisfying and I actually learned heaps along the way.

LESSON 3: Talking for eight hours straight is exhausting

The day was huge fun, and the people who attended were all-round good eggs. As well as learning, we had a giggle, and enjoyed some amazing food and even a glass of champagne to finish. I was exhausted by the end. The next day felt similar to how I felt after running the half marathon! It was like giving an eight-hour monologue!!

LESSON 4: Attendees can become buddies

I knew a few of the attendees before the course, but most were strangers. We formed a little bond over the day, as I learned about their business journey and they learned about mine. I’ve now set up a post course Google group where we can reconnect and attendees can continue to ask questions.

I also garnered a few new likers along the way from the tweets sent while my SEO crew were on the course.

LESSON 5: Great feedback gives you a warm glow

I gave out questionnaires and also requested feedback; here are some of the kind reviews that have come back so far.

Kathertine“The course was fantastic and I can recommend it to anyone who has a website or helps create websites for other people. Extra bonus: the course was fun, informative, I met so many lovely people and the food was delicious! Do yourself a favour and check it out!”
Katherine Pranic

mel leyshon“Kate is amazing – the ultimate SEO copywriting guru! I can’t speak highly enough of not only her talents and knowledge, but also her willingness to readily share information and teach others. Absolutely tops SEO chick.”
Melinda Leyshon

Bec“Fifty Shades of Awesome. Kate’s exuberance and significant SEO knowledge combined to create an incredible day of learning, full of valuable insights and information for business owners, marketers and copywriters.
Bec Christensen.

Oh and finally bonus number 6 – people love goodie bags

Kate Toon Goodie bag

I gave out goodie bags with goodies from my favourite suppliers, including Font Media Services, Phase Creative, Technique Interactive, Two Ten Solutions, VoulezVouloz and Renegade Promotions as well as a copy of the wonderful Business and Baby on Board and an SEO cookie from Adri’s Shop.

All in all I think the course was a success. Of course there are tweaks to be made to the presentation and areas to tidy up. But, overall, I’m happy with how it went.

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confessions of a misfit entrepreneur with Kate Toon

You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.


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