When I first started kicking around the idea of letting guest instructors run classes at BrentOzar.com, I did a brain dump of how I wanted to do business, and shared it with the guest instructors. It’s working out pretty well, so I’m sharing the more interesting parts here for those of you who like reading the behind-the-scenes type stuff.
In here, BOU means Brent Ozar Unlimited, and “you” means the instructor.
You exclusively own your material. The speaker owns the intellectual property (IP, aka slides/scripts/materials), and BOU doesn’t get any rights to it. Longer term, if we do the recorded version for student replay, then BOU would need the rights to let students play it from our site, but it would be restricted only to people who paid you (or who you gave access to, like your clients). BOU won’t have the rights to let someone see the recordings without your approval. You shouldn’t have to worry about me selling the class recordings as part of our online subscriptions.
You can use any training app or template. You can use PowerPoint, Keynote, whatever, in any slide deck template you choose. Use the tools you love, in the same look/feel that you use at user groups and clients. Don’t waste a moment on converting templates.
BOU doesn’t have veto rights over your material. Your material can link to your site, and anybody else’s (I’m not worried about promoting our competitors, and I link to other peoples’ stuff in our own training material.) There’s no requirements to link to resources on our site or host handouts on our site or anything like that.
We won’t record your classes unless you want to for your own use. If you do want to record with GoToWebinar so that you can give it out to clients (or sell it or whatever), that’s totally fine though. To me, those recordings are then your IP just like your slide decks and demos. They don’t cost BOU anything for you to have ‘em.
There’s no exclusivity requirement for the online classes. If you want to present the same material for somebody else (Pluralsight, YouTube, your own site, whatever) that’s fine. Yes, there’s a risk that having the material at Pluralsight (or elsewhere) reduces the possible revenue for an online class, but that’s just one of the tough things about being an instructor. You get to make those decisions based on what’s right for you.
Revenue sharing is 50/50. You get half of the top line revenue (sales, not profit), and BOU gets half. I want to be transparent about what BOU’s costs are, because from a financial perspective, they’re low:
- GoToWebinar is $500/mo (but you could do a 25-person class with the much cheaper GoToMeeting at like $50/mo)
- Credit card processing with Stripe is about 3%
- Sales tax filing internationally – accounting work, but it’s not really any additional work for us since we have to do it anyway for our other online stuff
- A BOU team member being on the call – we’ll be online during the class, but with our audio & camera off. That way, if you need something or if we run into technical problems, we can assist. We’ll just be working on other stuff.
- If you choose to do cloud VM labs for the students, we’ll also pay for that hosting cost out of our 50% (because we recognize that building quality labs is harder for you)
The big non-financial cost to BOU is marketing: building up the ~100K person email list, and then marketing the classes to our list, the site, social media, etc.
Sales taxes are our responsibility. The BrentOzar.com site calculates sales taxes based on the buyer’s location (which is surprisingly hard for international students), and those are all added above the sales price. I’ll figure out how to get you WooCommerce access – either to the admin panel, or just getting copied on the class emails as the sales come in. I just mention taxes to be totally clear that you get 50% of the class revenue, not the sales tax part. 😀
We (BOU) have the right to do public discounting. We want to put butts in seats, so we’ll do things like a limited time launch discount, plus referral coupons through various marketing outlets (blogs, email newsletters, refer a friend, etc.) We won’t discount the class below 50%.
You have the right to do private coupons. If you want to give access to friends, customers, prospects, etc, you’ll have the ability to set up coupons that discount your class all the way down to zero. You just can’t share those publicly. (We want to be able to manage the discount process to maximize students & revenue.) It’s completely okay if you put people in the class for free – it doesn’t cost us anything when you do that, and we don’t see it as lost revenue.
When I wrote that stuff out and shared it with the presenters, I was basically thinking, “If I was 2010 Brent, who was doing some presentations for online training companies, what would Brent have really needed, but not known to ask for? How could I help 2010 Brent build up his training inventory and his online presence in a way that everybody wins?”
That’s what I came up with, and I’m really happy how it’s worked out.