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Announcement: Independent Consulting cohort-based course

Vikrant Duggal
Vikrant Duggal
• 5 min read

I'm building a cohort-based course (CBC) and I'm sharing the entire process.


If you want to skip the details and fill out our survey to help us learn more here you go:



Background

I'm starting with some work that I've already done. Let me explain:

  1. I've been consulting independently since 2017 and have made over $2 million in income (cumulative) from this work since then.
  2. In 2018 a friend asked me to teach him how I consult and in the Spring of that year I created a two and a half day 1:1 workshop for him. He was super pleased with the results. I went on to do 9 more of these for friends and other folks. Word slowly spread.
  3. In 2020 I needed to transition to a virtual version of the workshop that produced great results for students.
  4. In December 2020 I decided to make the workshop a self-paced course. 30 people signed up and they showcased phenomenal results!
  5. In 2021 I started writing essays on consulting and created a guide with my most popular essays on this site.

Net net: I'm coming into this process operating as an Independent Consultant and having taught folks how to do it for themselves. Thanks to Shoutout for helping me organize positive feedback.

I will be keeping the self-paced course and I'll be bringing back the live in-person workshop in 2022, but this post is about the CBC.

Earlier this year I wrote about sharing my ideas. One idea I wrote about is turning Consulting Club into a more sustainable business. After supporting 30 people through the most recent Consulting Club programs I'm taking the learning and adding.

Building this in public has a number of benefits:

  • creates accountability
  • aligns vision
  • open-sources problems
  • creates connection

Starting today I'm building a cohort-based course.



What is a cohort-based course (CBC)?

A cohort-based course is a learning program with a syllabus taken by a group of students (the cohort) at the same time. In many ways this is similar to the live workshop model I ran.

Cohort-based learning is a collaborative learning style in which a group of individuals advance through an educational program together. I have intimate knowledge of this having run my own workshop and evaluating courses including Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte and Will Mannon, Write of Passage by David Perrell, On Deck Angels by Brian Nichols and, and Ship 30 for 30.

If you're familiar with traditional, on-campus programs you may know about cohort learning models. In high school or college all of your classes likely used cohort learning. You and your classmates completed the same assignments, adhered to the same due dates, and studied material together. The cohort learning model is also used in online learning environments. In this setting, you complete an educational program with your peers in the same way but watch lecturers and complete assignments online, instead of in-person.



Validating the concept

While I know there's interest in the idea of independent consulting, I want to know if how many people are interested in getting monetary outcomes via a cohort-based course. I want to know if  people want to spend three weeks (at two sessions a week) building momentum to earn additional income based on their expertise.

Survey

A course survey is the best way to find out. It will help me find out if there's demand. It will help me get a sense of my target audience to refine the course concepts (which I'm sure I do).

I'm going to survey people with an aim to get 30-50 people to sign up for the potential course. I'm intentionally keeping it limited.

There are a number of instructors who have announced their courses publicly so I'll do some research to look at how they did it.

While I have a landing page, I don't need to use it for this exercise. This post serves as part of my survey/announcement hybrid simply to get an idea: if I was to build a CBC on this topic how many people would sign up?

I want to learn more about the type of person who will best learn this way. Here are the questions I will ask in the survey:

  • What is the condition you wish to improve?
  • What would you ideally like to accomplish?
  • If you achieve your outcome how will this better serve your customer?
  • If you achieve your outcome how will this better serve you (and your team)?
  • What’s keeping you up at night?
  • What do you specifically want to learn about?

Outreach

I plan on sharing my survey where I might have potential students:

  • personal email (one offs)
  • here on my blog
  • email newsletter
  • social media accounts

In addition to my own channels, I'll make a list of people I can ask in my network and community to promote the course announcement.

Investment

I'm using a premium placeholder. This investment level for this course will be between $1500 and $2500. I'm intentionally pushing some people away from making this investment.

Note: A great course with no business outcomes targeting a consumer typically have a price of under $1,000.

The ideal student of mine may already be consulting, but they're likely charging hourly, not making enough money, and don't have much free time.

The ideal student of mine may also have expertise and experience in something specific. They are likely in a W2 job. They love roughly five to ten percent of their day job and see the remaining 90-95% of their job as lame admin stuff. If they could just get paid the same for the five to ten percent they love they would be in heaven. They want to make their first $10K doing their own thing while not having it take up too much time.



Partner

I will not be building alone. For this CBC I'm partnering with Gagan Biyani, Wes Kao, and their startup Maven. You can learn more about them here. They are backed by investors like First Found Capital and a number of angel investors.

I'll also be building this course alongside a number of other CBC creators. People who have created courses like this:

  • Pomp
  • Lenny Rachitsky
  • Li Jin
  • Justin Mikolay
  • Pat Flynn
  • Chris Sutherland
  • Heather Payne
  • Chris Flalic
  • Sahil Lavingia

Tools

For this announcement and survey I'm using the following tools:

  • Blog (via Ghost.org sitting on a Digital Ocean server)
  • Newsletter (via MailChimp)
  • Social media apps (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook)
  • Email (GMail)
  • Survey (Typeform)
  • Shoutout (Wall of Love)

Consulting