The following is an article I wrote that was originally published on in August of 2012.

Put Your Website on Autopilot with an e-courseI see it every day; entrepreneurs fighting to balance work, family and time for themselves while struggling to maintain a sustainable income. In fact, many entrepreneurs find themselves working 7 days a week in order to keep up. They work harder and harder telling themselves that one day it will pay off. You’ve heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder.” But how? How do you work less and still make enough to pay your bills and grow your business? Some will say outsourcing is the trick and they would be right to a certain extent. Outsourcing is a great way to put some balance back into your life. But outsourcing requires the income to hire someone to help – and what if you’re simply not there yet? There is another way. Put your website to work for you!

I’m not talking about just having a great website (although that is a definite bonus). I’m talking about literally making your website do your work for you by creating an automated educational product around your offerings. It will require some work from you to set it up, but once completed, you will be able to sell your own unique e-course without spending more than a few minutes from time to time working on it.

The first step is to determine what part of your services can in-fact be converted to educational material, or what kind of material your target market could benefit from and then create that material. Do you coach, counsel, educate, or sell a product? What service(s) do you offer that can be made into either educational written material, or videos? If you sell a product, look at your target market and determine what they might like to learn about. For example, if your company sells pet products, they might benefit from some dog training videos. If you sell food products, perhaps your target would be interested in a healthy living e-course, or a cooking e-course. If your business coaches entrepreneurs, create an e-course that will automate the coaching process with instructional emails, or videos, or both and offer it to entrepreneurs who can’t afford personalized coaching.

Next, install a membership program on your website. If you are using a platform such as WordPress this can be as easy as installing a simple plugin. If not, you may require someone with technical skills to help with this step, but paying for help with setup will pay off in the long run. Membership software will enable you to create areas of your website that are only assessable to members. You may consider creating a page for each chapter, or level of your e-course and the content can include, text, audio, e-books for download and/or videos. You can also make your membership program more enticing by adding forums or social networking groups so that the people that register can network and communicate with like-minded individuals.

Consider carefully which program you would like to use. Create a check list of what you would like your program to have – for example, you’ll likely need it to integrate with your payment processor or shopping cart and if you’d like to automate email deliveries, along with your e-course, you should be certain that it integrates nicely with the email marketing service of your choice.  Also consider your payment structure. Will people pay a monthly fee or a onetime fee to access your material? Will they pay per chapter, or per level?

Once completed, your program will act as a silent business partner working in the background increasing your income while you focus on other areas of your business. And guess what? You’ll be working smarter, not harder.

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