How Amy Porterfield Generated $40 Million From 8 Online Courses

Her online marketing skills are entrepreneurial diamonds.


Max Phillips

3 years ago | 5 min read

In a recent email, online marketing expert Amy Porterfield revealed she made an initial $30,000 during an online course launch in 2013. Just 18 months later, that same course generated $950,000.

She has taught over 250,000 email subscribers, has taught over 40,000 students, created eight online courses, and built a multi-million dollar online empire where she teaches entrepreneurs to grow their businesses into money-making machines. It’s safe to say she knows what she’s talking about.

I’m currently enrolled in her List Builder’s Society course, and perhaps the most notable takeaway so far is how valuable the information is. There’s no fluff — it’s just quality.

Amy is very open with her tips — it’s part of her allure. With that in mind, here are some of the insights I’ve taken from her work.

Create a specific ICA

Your ICA is your ‘Ideal Customer Avatar.’ In her words, “Your ICA represents your one single perfect customer.”

In one of the lessons, she asks students to create an avatar based on an existing customer or a fictitious character. It doesn’t matter which, as long as it’s specific.

She suggests writing down their interests, how tall they are, their occupation, and their most significant issues with their life.

As Amy teaches, when you have a specific customer in mind, it is easier to sell to them. You can tailor it to their needs. As she says in one of the lessons: “If you’re selling to everyone, then you’re selling to no one.”

Of course, if you create an ICA, there’s no way of knowing if someone like that exists, so Amy suggests finding and talking to real people. Phone people in a similar field, run the idea by them and explore Facebook groups to get feedback.

It can feel daunting, but the more thorough work you do, the more confident you will be about your product.

Use the 10% rule

As a content creator, I sometimes feel like an impostor.

I want to teach writers how they can use their lives to create more compelling stories, but because I’m not a 10-year veteran with thousands of followers, I tend to doubt myself.

Amy taught me I was being stupid.

You don’t need to be an expert, just 10% better than your field. It gives you a slight advantage, which other people will want to access.

In one of the worksheets, Amy references a poignant Mark Twain quote to explain what she means:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Sure, someone else may have your idea. There may even be an online course about it. But not by you.

Amy encourages her students to believe in their product, and most importantly, believe in what they have to say.

Plan content in advance

When I first started writing, it was exhausting. I’d sit and stare at my drafts page, hopping from one idea to the next. However, since I began planning my content, the process has got quicker and more enjoyable.

If you want to promote an online course eventually, you need a following. To do that, you need to publish regular content. To start, Amy says you need to pick a platform such as blogging or a podcast.

Once you’ve done that, schedule a two-hour content planning session once every six weeks. During these sessions, do the following techniques:

Brain dump

This is a free-flowing exercise where you picture your ICA and write about what topics would interest them. Amy outlines the questions you should be asking yourself:

“What do they want and/or need that you can provide content on? Where are they in their journey right now as it relates to what you offer — how can you help move them along with your content? What content will help them right now?”

Above all, don’t aim for perfection. Just get your thoughts out onto the page.

Survey your audience

If you have an audience, use Google forms to quiz them about their interests. Keep the questions open-ended, as responses could form the basis of an article, for example.

If you’re like me and don’t have a vast audience yet, you could find someone else in your field with a large audience and see what resonates with them. Collect that data and put your spin on it.

Content theming

Get a calendar, and begin theming your content around certain times of the year. For instance, you could call for a “New Year, New You” type of thing in January.

Doing this helps you narrow down your topics, enabling you to better understand what your ICA needs.

Look back at your most popular content

Look at your highest performing work, and see if you have a new perspective to offer. You might’ve thought of something else to say or even disagree entirely. It’s all content.

To go a step further, Amy suggests studying what people responded to the most. Take a keyword from there, and enter it into Google. See what it throws up and put your spin on it.

Use Google

Type in your topic and pay close attention to the ‘People Also Ask’ section. It’s a handy tool for finding weeks worth of content.

Scroll down, and you’ll find the related searches section, which again gives you more content.

Don’t underestimate the value of an email list

To demonstrate how powerful an engaged email list can be, Amy conducted an experiment.

She has a list of hundreds of thousands of people. However, she decided only to use 1000 of them. Promoting a live workshop and a $197 online course, she made $6000 within 48 hours.

It shows a small, direct audience can be more profitable than a large, unengaged one. If you’re not specific enough with what you’re offering, your audience won’t be engaged enough, which means they are less likely to buy your product.

Offer immense value for free

This is perhaps Amy’s number one rule.

You want people saying: “I can’t believe this is all free. I wonder what their paid content can offer.” Blow them away, so when you do charge for content, they don’t question you. If you don’t offer enough value to begin with, your paid content will flop.

Create a variety of free resources. Amy does this with her online marketing podcast, checklists, step-by-step guides, and so on.

There’s a lot to learn from Amy Porterfield. She’s wildly successful at teaching other people how to make money.

So, to recap the lessons learned from her success:

  • Create an ideal customer avatar. The more specific, the better, as you can sell products tailored to their needs.
  • Don’t worry about being an expert. Just be 10% better than everyone else.
  • Set aside two hours once every six weeks to plan content. This saves you time and energy.
  • An active email list can be incredibly fruitful. If you want to make serious money, work on growing your list.
  • Offer your best work for free, so when you charge for courses, you can tap into your customer’s disbelief.

I hope you learned as much as I have from Amy.


Created by

Max Phillips







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