10 Lessons for Course Creators from 10 Years In The Game

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I received a message from someone the other day along the lines of, “You’re one of the very few people I’ve been following for almost 10 years that’s still in business, still innovating, and still creating.”

It got me thinking.

I’ve been a content + course creator for about a decade now.

I’ve helped well over 15,000+ students (this is just from one of my course platforms, which there have been many over the years). And that doesn’t include the thousands of people I’ve taught in my live workshops, events, and in person!

Course Creators

Kind crazy - not many people can say they’ve weathered the wild ups and downs of this industry as things constantly shift and evolve.

Luckily, I’ve always stuck with timeless strategy rather than chasing the next trendy tactic (or social media platform - RIP all the socials I’ve seen come and go!)

A lot of my peers who started out with me back in the day, are no longer running their business for one reason or another. I honestly love that for them - I know it takes guts to make that choice!

I’ve learned about a gazillion lessons in my time making a living as a creator online, but I want to share the top 10 with you today. As I tell my clients, “you have to live it to really learn it” - and boy have I lived it!

These are my confessions, my hard-won wisdom as a dinosaur in the online education space 🦕

If you want to learn *everything* I know about building profitable content + course creator businesses online…

…every single strategy and template I use daily to keep growing as a 7-figure creator business year after year after year…

…get all my resources, templates, and strategies in one place…

The doors to the all-new Monetize are opening soon.

Get on the waitlist here so you don’t miss it.

Let’s get into it:

#1: You can't copy your way to success

It’s so tempting to see someone else who is so successful, and think that if you just did exactly what they did it would work for you too. That leads to straight up copying and pasting someone’s sales page, mimicking their webinar, and reposting their captions as your own. Not only is it not cool, but it’s not going to work for you.

The culture of copycat coaches and copy-paste course creators is OUT. Learning lots of different strategies, testing things out, and weaving together your own unique approach? Now THAT is what works. Bringing your unique perspective to your business works. We call this Synthesis and Convergence in the Find Your Niche course inside Monetize , and it’s about bringing together what makes you unique into one fresh package.

Copying is not the same as following frameworks, using resources and templates to save you time, and customizing a strategy to your own business. I never start from scratch and I recommend my clients use the tools we give them to make their lives 1000x easier. But you’re not going to copy my emails word for word, or make your visual branding look like mine. You’re going to take the strategies, templates, and tools and confidently infuse your own voice into everything you do.

#2: Lumpy revenue is normal

Hockey stick growth isn’t the norm, and it’s probably not what you actually want if you’re serious about building something sustainable. Everyone thinks they want “straight up and to the right” growth, but that usually leads to overwhelm, burnout, and a crash later.

We’ve had a few moments like that ourselves (ahem, our first ever virtual conference in 2020!) and the growth curve absolutely comes with a steep learning curve.

That being said, lumpy revenue is totally normal. The graph never just goes up and to the right. When you’re looking at a decade of data, you’re going to see ups and downs. When your reference point is 10 years, the month to month fluctuation isn’t that big of a deal!

If you know how to plan your year out with a combination of live promotions (launches) and daily action for consistent sales, that’s what matters. This is like the calendar process we teach our clients in Map Your Model (included in the all new Monetize !)

10 Years in the game Map Your Model Calendar Sheet

#3: The game is 50% mindset and 50% mechanics

If you focus too much on mindset and no strategy, you’ll be in the clouds all day without a lot of real progress going on.

I’ve gotten stuck here before actually. I distinctly remember a time in 2018 feeling like I had been “stuck” at about $1M/year and wanted to leap to the next level. So I spent months “excavating” for any “blocks” that were holding me back, digging into what could possibly be the problem in my mindset.

Turns out, we just needed to implement some fresh strategies with pricing and ads to make that leap 😅

Mindset matters too, you just have to balance it with the mechanics. You need the strategy and practical tactical pieces just as much as you need to be in a good headspace to take action.

Evergreen funnels are a really good example of this. You need to believe that your ideal customer is out there, just waiting for your message at the perfect time for them to jump in now. AND you need the systems in place to actually enroll and deliver your product when those clients do find you. Same with launches - you need to go into it with a god attitude so you follow through even when it’s hard, and you need the practical pieces like a sales page and an email sequence (good thing we give you templates for those things in Monetize to make it simple!)

This is also why we have an entire mindset course inside Monetize called “Fearless CEO”. We’re doing a live 10-day mindset reset in April inside Monetize, so you can get in the right headspace and clear out the funky head junk. When your mindset is sharp, it makes taking action sooo much easier.

10 Lessons For Creators - Mindset

#4: Making sales in your sleep isn't passive income

Yes, I have made sales while I was sleeping. Is it an amazing experience? Of course. It’s delightful.

Would I call my business “passive income”? HAHAHAHA noooo. Excuse me while I recover from crying laughing.

You can set up systems so that sales can come in anytime. In its simplest form, you need a great offer and some great content that points to that offer. Sometimes you’ll make a sale while you’re sleeping.

But there’s also the marketing, the maintenance, the customer support, the curriculum updates, the content calendar and everything else!

10 lessons - lumpy revenue

I am not sure what’s going on in the internet world these days with everyone yelling about “passive income”. It’s 2024, I thought we were over that misnomer? And why do all these people need a caveat like “well it’s passive income but I do work 4 hours a day posting 2x reels and making new ads and content.” Then it’s not passive and THAT IS OKAY.

All I’m saying is…if you need all the caveats, maybe just find another phrase for it that actually describes an online business.

It’s leveraged, it’s balanced, it’s freaking AMAZING. Trust me, I’ve tried lots of other options and selling a digital product or educational course I’m passionate about is THE BEST! But it’s not passive. Even if you have an evergreen funnel, it’s pro-actively making tweaks and optimizations and lead generation to fuel the engine.

Can we show you how to set that up and optimize the engine? Yes, that’s what Evergreen EnginesⓇ is for (included inside the new Monetize !). But you should expect to put in the work to maintain it, drive leads and traffic, and proactively manage the process.

#5: More revenue won't make you feel abundant

Oof, this is a lesson you can only learn by living it.

If you have a funky relationship with money, more of it won’t make that all better. If you feel like you’re not enough at $100k/year in revenue, hitting $1M next year won’t magically make you feel worthy as a human person.

And it shouldn’t, because your worthiness and awesomeness and value has nothing to do with how much revenue you make in your biz.

I promise you: your annual revenue stats are the least interesting thing about you.

It’s like they say, “wherever you go, there you are.” You’ll still be YOU.

I have a whole mindset training in the Fearless CEO mindset reset course on just this concept because it’s so crucial.

Ultimately, you want to cultivate feeling abundant no matter what’s happening externally with your sales that day. Not in a weird bypassing reality way, but in a way that doesn’t tie all your emotions to how much you made in that week/launch/promotion.

10 Lessons - Fearless CEO Mindset of Course Creators

#6: You've barely scratched the surface of your market

So many of my clients have come to me thinking they need to pivot or change their messaging or niche after making $10k - $100k with one target market and that in order to increase sales, they need to “widen” their market to include a broader audience. This is so very rarely the case!

I had a really interesting conversation with a client recently who actually shared that when she tried to open up her marketing and messaging to “all creatives” instead of specifically “web designers”, her sales actually slowed down! Fascinating right?

If you’ve made 100, 500, even 1,000 sales of your product - you’ve barely scratched the surface of your market. There is still so much untapped potential.

I have served over 15,000++ people and feel like I’m just barely getting started!

You may need to do some audience building and fresh content marketing to reach those perfect people, but the tools and templates in the Organic Content Machine course will help you with all that! (Yes, it’s included inside the new Monetize).

10 Lessons - OCM Organic Content Machine

#7: The principles never change

I have been making my trifecta of sales assets for every single launch for almost a decade now and it’s always so funny to me to see just how much the true fundamentals do not change.

If I’m going to sell something, no matter the price point or type of offer - you better believe I’m writing my sales page, crafting my email sequence and building out some sort of sales video (webinar) for it!

There are certain skills you develop that once you have them, they serve you FOR LIFE.


If you know how to write a sales page, build an email sequence and create a sales presentation (aka webinar) - you can literally sell any product at any price point ever.

Sure the tech changes and the styles evolve over time, but the fundamentals are always there.

I’m seeing this now with my collaboration project, where I’m intentionally collaborating with other business owners. I am using the exact same principles I have been using for 10 years when it comes to connecting with collaborators and finding win-win opportunities to support each other.

Learn strategies that don’t have an expiration date. Layer on the trendy tech or hot new style if you want! But don’t forget the basics.

#8: You cannot be afraid to evolve and pivot

I really believe that the reason I am still here, with a 7-figure/year business, is because I evolve and shift unapologetically.

Many of my peers who started with me years ago are not around anymore - they’ve shut their doors and moved on (which is totally fine, I know how much bravery it takes to do that and I’m not knocking it).

But I sometimes worry if the fact I do stay ahead of every changing tide makes me look “flaky” or chaotic on the outside. My moves are calculated and strategic, I’m seeing changes in the market before most other people, and evolving accordingly. But on the outside, it might look like I’m sailing without a rudder. I like to think my compass is just a little more in tune than the masses!

If something isn’t working or you just don’t personally feel aligned anymore, you do not need permission to shake things up.

How many times has that little voice in my head been like “hey you know that thing you’re doing that’s working REALLY well and is very successful? Yeah I think it’s actually time for you to do something new and innovate again”. I can resist reinvention temporarily, or I can embrace it and pivot.

People who have been doing this a long time know, you can’t be afraid to evolve. All of your experiences and lessons are like little tools you get to take with you in your toolbox into the next phase, so it’s never a waste.

Mariah Coz Personal Brand Journey as a course creators

#9: Taking breaks is fine, you won't be forgotten

Whenever I’ve shared with my community that I am taking a biz break (or came back after an unplanned/un-announced break from biz), I have been met with so much support and kind messages from people telling me:

“You take care of yourself. We’ll be here when you’re ready.”

I want to thank each and every person who has ever said something like that to me in response to an email - it means more than you know. I carry your kindness with me when I get that irrational fear that taking a break from making content or selling or whatever it may be will mean I’ll be completely forgotten.

But you have to think about the longer term. When we’re talking about the time scale of 10 years - taking 6 months off is not that big a deal at all. It’s a blip in the lifetime of your business.

➡️ Related: How I Took Over a Month Off From Biz

#10: Run your own race

Because of the nature of the “online” world, the fact we can see exactly what everyone else is doing/making/earning/achieving online 24/7, it is insanely easy to fall into comparison-itis.

Sometimes we can literally get so caught up in it, we forget what our own goals and aspirations are for our life and business. We can put on other people’s goals and start to think they are our own.

This is like wearing someone else’s underwear… very weird (and gross?). Either way, it won’t fit YOU right.

I thought I wanted a $10M/year business with tons of employees. Until I got halfway there and was like, “Oh wow! This is great but I do not want to double all of this. I want to be more of a creator-first person and less of a CEO-manager.”

Be mindful when you are consuming content if you are putting on someone else’s goals like a hat that doesn’t fit quite right, or are those your own personal goals?

Make sure you’re running your own race. No competition, just you and the road and your own north star to guide you.

This is why I’m so passionate about giving people a more “choose your own adventure” mix and match experience in Monetize than a strict “everyone must follow this exact blueprint”.

Everyone has their own unique approach, and if we lean into that, we get a lot more interesting innovation and ideas!

Content Creator SMS

Cheers to the next 10 years!

So there it is - 10 lessons from 10 years in the game of being a creator online.

I can’t wait to see what the next 10 bring! I know we’ll see some massive changes and revolutions, it’s already happening now.

If you want to learn *everything* I know about building profitable content + course creator businesses online…

…every single strategy and template I use daily as a 7-figure creator business year after year after year…

…all my resources, templates, and strategies in one place…

The doors to the all-new Monetize are opening soon.

Get on the waitlist here so you don’t miss it.

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