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Success Story: How a former park ranger & teacher created and launched her first online course (that brought in over $50k!) with Nikki Elledge Brown

Nikki Brown

This is one of those proud papa bear moments. Recently, I reached out to a bunch of my Create Awesome Online Courses (CAOC as the cool kids call it) students who have launched their business online for some INSANELY candid interviews about their experience.


  1. I’m freakin’ proud of them (like beyond words).
  2. I want YOU to get fired up and inspired (or if you are fired up and inspired…even MORE fired up and inspired) and hearing from people who are having success is going to get you going
  3. I’m a really good teacher 😉 (hah)

Anyway…let me share with you a rock star in every sense of the word in this straight-up-no-punches-pulled interview. Enjoy the read!

Name: Nikki Elledge Brown

Name Of Your Course: A Course About Copy: Write your site. Attract your dream clients. Enjoy the process.

1. Let’s get the THE BIG FACTS out there first. What was your list size when you launched your course?

By launch week my “inner circle” interest list was over 1,200 people. (As of now I keep that list separate from my “VIP” list, which was about 1,600 at the time.)

2. What is your total revenue generated so far?

This first launch generated $51,840. (NOTE: That’s double what I used to bring home in a YEAR as a park ranger, so typing that makes my head spin.) My founding class includes 51 amazing folks from all over the world!

3. How did you come up with the idea for your course?

I taught communication at the college level for seven years before launching my business. Knew from the start that I wanted to create a new kind of classroom (for entrepreneurs, not college students). Loved the idea of doing what I enjoyed MOST about teaching (facilitating lightbulb moments) without the part I enjoyed LEAST (grading).

I worked one-on-one with over 160 clients in my first eight months of business, but even after the first handful of sessions it was obvious to me that there was a clear set of problems I could solve through my own course.

My clients (now students) want to be able to showcase the best of who they REALLY are through their writing. They don’t want to have to hire someone every time they need to say something.

Most of all they realize that to attract their dream clients, engage them in a meaningful way, and help them feel comfortable exchanging value online…they’ve got to tap into the power of smart, authentic communication.

That’s what A Course About Copy is all about!

4. Who is your course for?

A Course About Copy is for you if….

  1. You’ve got a great service, product, or idea to share with the world, but when it comes to writing about it you’re:
    Stuck at the starting line (in eternal draft mode).
    Overwhelmed by all the possible (wildly creative or totally strategic) ways you could approach it.
    Unsure how much to share, where to share it, and how to share it in a way that make sense.
  2. You don’t want to hire a copywriter to write everything FOR you because you:
    Realize that YOU need to become a more confident, effective communicator in order to reach who you want to reach.
    Don’t want to pay thousands of dollars to wait for someone to write or update a page, offer, or opt-in you may want to change next week.
    Believe that your audience wants to hear from YOU. Not a (lovely + talented) pro who’s pretty good at sounding like you.

5. How long did it take you to create your course from start to finish?

I knew I wanted to create a course before I even launched my business…so in that sense, at least a year.

In reality, the bulk of it actually happened in a wild ‘n’ crazy, never-doing-it-like-that-again 45 “mom” days.**

**It’s worth noting that (as is the case for many entrepreneurs with young kiddos) my son’s only in “school” two days a week, and most of my work happens during nap times and after bedtime.

6. Did you face any big challenges (in creating, promoting, launching, anywhere along the journey)? Tell us about them and how did you overcome them?

1) MEGA resistance.

I knew the course was in me – and all the material was THERE (since it’s what I’d worked through in hundreds of one-on-one sessions), but just sitting down to outline the dang thing was like pulling teeth.

How I overcame it:

  • Faith. My faith inspired the start of my business, and has given me perspective on all the big scary fears and potential obstacles that have bubbled up since. I see resistance as proof that I’m doing exactly what I was designed to do, so I can use it to motivate me instead of hold me back.
  • Create Awesome Online Courses aka CAOC. I’ve created college courses from scratch, but I’d never created a course like this. I didn’t want “but I don’t know how to create + launch a course for THIS crowd” to be an excuse for me, and I found CAOC at just the right time. But even once I had a great starting point, I still needed…
  • Public accountability. I tend to throw deadlines out there so that then I HAVE to sprint after them and make stuff happen. I have a love-hate relationship with public accountability, though, because sometimes it puts TOO much pressure on us just to meet an arbitrary deadline. There’s a happy medium somewhere. I’m looking for it.

2) Crazy overwhelm.

Simultaneously launching, creating, and delivering this course in such a short span was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done (and I NEVER plan to do it that way again!).

My son was born via c-section, but I keep comparing this process to child labor. (And now that we’ve finished the live run and I’m revamping and restyling for the evergreen version, it totally feels like I’m delivering (course) twins two months apart.)

How I overcame it:

A great support system. I’m surrounded (physically and virtually) by family, friends and an ever-expanding dream team I can call on when I need a laugh, a cry, a nap, or a virtual “pull yourself together man” e-slap in the face.

It absolutely takes a village to get something like this out into the world, and if you try to do it on your own, you will likely go crazy. DON’T BE A HERO! 😉

7. How did it feel to make that first sale?

My first through fourth sales all came in the same whirlwind of a day…before I’d even written a sales page or shared the course outline. (I had a gut feeling I should include an early pre-sale PayPal link in that day’s email for my “early adopters” who just couldn’t take the suspense. Glad I followed through!)

I was over the MOON, in large part because all four of those first students were lovely and brilliant (seriously – two are doctors!), but also because I knew that day represented a total tipping point – for my biz, for my life, and for my family.

It really sank in that creating this course would the same amount of work, whether it was for 1, 100, 1,000 people! (What David calls “punching dollars for hours in the face.”)

I was so totally encouraged, humbled, and inspired by the fact that they’d (enthusiastically!) invested in my program – a full month before it was even ready to launch. They are proof positive that dream clients exist!

8. How has creating and selling your course changed your business/perspective?

These first 50+ sales were each AMAZING and totally thrilling, but when I launch the evergreen version and truly don’t need to do ANY extra work for a new student who comes along, that’ll be a whole new kind of amazing.

It’s also just incredible to know that even for what I considered my first “dress rehearsal” launch, over fifty smart, REAL people were happy to invest in what I had to offer.

I can only imagine what’s coming next!

9. Have there been any other ‘surprises’ that have resulted from launching your course?

New Level
I had a feeling my first course would push my business into six-figure territory, but it was still pretty surreal when it happened. In January I committed to funding a school through Pencils of Promise this year (using 10% of my revenue), and this first launch funded a full 20% of that. Pretty amazing.

Major List-Building
From the time I first mentioned “okay – this is happening – stay tuned” in mid-December to the actual launch during first week(s) of February, my interest list grew by over 1,200 people. New folks sign up and share it with their friends and clients every day, and I love that the conversation continues!

More Interviews
I’ve been invited to share my story a lot in the first year, but since my course launched and I hit this new milestone, the interview requests have definitely become more frequent. Love meeting new folks and sharing what I’ve learned, so I’m happy to connect that way!

I didn’t realize how freeing it would feel to have so many of my best tips in one spot, both in my free training videos and the course itself. I feel like the pressure’s off now that the content is documented in some form, and now I can play a bit more with my weekly content moving forward.

10. What’s next for you?

I’m looking forward to a LOT of rest and family time for the second half of the year, but first I have two more big launches to bring to light:

  1. The (official) grand opening of A Course About Copy. My founding class was really happy with “the first pancake,” but I see plenty of ways I can make it even better, so I’m gonna. Now that we’ve finished the live run, I’m shifting gears to revamp and restyle content for the evergreen version of ACAC.
  2. An all new While prepping for the evergreen launch, we’re also getting ready to reveal my rebrand (what I call “my new brand pants”) – hopefully in May. This new site is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to share it!

11. What’s your advice to someone who is about to begin on their journey to create, promote & profit from online courses?

  1. Buy Create Awesome Online Courses.
  2. Mobilize your support team.
  3. GET BUSY.

12. What would you say to someone who is interested in David’s Create Awesome Online Courses program?

Join the party!

David knows his stuff, and his ridiculously practical step-by-step approach to just about EVERYTHING leaves no room for the “but I don’t know how to….” excuses we’re oh-so-tempted to make.

It’s like a course creator’s security blanket. Even if you experiment and go a bit rogue like I did (he does NOT recommend the insanity that comes with a live run and now I know why :)), you know you’ve got a tried-and-true system that works in your back pocket.

If you already love his stuff, and you’ve got a feeling an online course is right for your business, CAOC is a no-brainer.

Final thoughts?

To be totally, boldly, still makes me nervous to admit this out loud honest…I think this will be a six-figure LAUNCH in June.


Thanks Nikki so much for sharing. And while there are about 6,000 takeaways from Nikki and what she shared above, the bottom line is to create and sell an online course it takes:

-Commitment (this ain’t overnight)
-Continuing to move forward
-Battling through challenges
-Following a system

If you are ready to get going on your course creating journey, I’ve put together a free training to get you started.  Unlike some trainings (that are full of fluff and don’t actually TEACH you anything), this training is FULL of actionable steps you can take right now.

Grab your seat here.

  1. Sue | says:

    So inspiring! Thanks for sharing Nikki.

    1. Thank YOU for sharing, Sue 🙂

  2. Laura Husson says:

    Woohoo! Nikki does rock! I’m a member of a corse about copy and it’s been so inspirational being part of the launch that I’m FINALLY getting my act together to launch my own (much talked about and planned in my head) course! VIP launch starts tomorrow!

    1. SUCH a pleasure getting to know you through this course, friend. (NOTE: Should’ve added super-amazing friendships to the list of surprises!!)

      Can’t wait to watch Famein140 transform how newbies like me “do Twitter” 😉

  3. Ciara says:

    Way to go Nikki!

  4. Kwin Tan says:

    3 cheers for my fellow CAOC mate, Nikki!!!

  5. Treacy Mize says:

    Thank you Nikki! Very inspiring and I’m looking forward to being able to repeat some of your words this year!

    1. Can’t wait to read ’em, Treacy 😉

  6. JoAnne Westbrook says:

    Wow!! Super inspiring!!! Thank you sharing Nikki and David for the amazing courses you offer!

    1. Happy to share, JoAnne, for exactly THIS reason. Cheering you on!

  7. Frugal_Confessions says:

    I think you did a great job with your free mini-version, so I can only imagine how great the actual course is. Your About Page free video helped me big time!

    1. Thanks so much, Amanda! So glad it helped 🙂

  8. Janet Kafadar says:

    Wow. You’re such an inspiration Nikki, i’m so pleased for you. I can’t wait to create my own course soon.

  9. Jennifer Gabiola says:

    You never cease to amaze me, Nikki! You are truly the embodiment of faith in action. Watching your journey grow organically from B-school to seeing where you are now is an incredible inspiration! Thank you for having the courage to follow your path. You are truly serving so many with your gift for communication with your generous and kind spirit. I’m feeling more ready to create my beauty branding course for introverted leaders in the beauty and fashion industry. Thank you! So proud of u! Sending u lots of love. Get plenty of rest! You so deserve it! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Jenn! So happy our paths crossed this year. (And will…literally…one of these days when I’m back in Houston!)

      Your course will be FABULOUS.

      1. Jennifer Gabiola says:

        Thanks Nikki! I appreciate your support! Yes, def let me know when u come back to H-town! <3

  10. Andrea Martins says:

    David, thank you so much for inviting Nikki to share details about her amazing first-course success story. I’ve been following Nikki’s blog/newsletter for a while now and have nothing but praise for her and her inspirational achievements. Go Nikki!

    1. More than welcome. So glad you enjoyed it!

    2. Thank you so much, Andrea! Sincerely appreciate the kind words 🙂

  11. Congratulations @nikkielledgebrown:disqus! CAOC is such a great course and it sounds like you have totally nailed it with your own launch, fantastic stuff. Can’t wait to get stuck into the course(s) I plan on building!!

    1. Thanks, Tatum. Excited for you and yours!

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