Last updated: 10th March, 2021
How to create a successful online course: Five tips from Mamma Method
Find out how the founders of fitness programme Mamma Method went from running in-person classes around London to teaching hundreds of women entirely online. This case study is part of the PagoFX Online Business Academy, a free resource for online-only businesses and entrepreneurs.
Along with baking banana bread and binge-watching Tiger King, the first Covid-19 lockdown of 2020 brought with it a sudden boom in home fitness. Google searches for online workouts peaked in late March, as the UK government issued stay-at-home orders and gyms were forced to shutter their doors.
For fitness instructors operating under traditional models, the challenge was stark. Camilla Hollweck and Keziah Breslin were among many who found themselves unable to offer in-person classes. The pair, who met while on maternity leave with their second babies, had been working together since February 2019. Both qualified pilates instructors with a passion for postnatal fitness, they created their fitness programme Mamma Method to offer new mums the kind of workout they’d do themselves – safe, effective, and something they could do with their baby in a carrier.
“We just wanted to do workouts where we could bring our baby,” Camilla remembers. “My little ones didn’t want to be put down, so I could never get a workout.
“It was really nice to be able to combine exercise with babywearing, and to actually make it challenging.”
The pair were teaching classes at several different locations across London and had just hired three additional instructors when the pandemic hit. Fortunately, they were not completely unprepared for a sudden shift online.
“We had already filmed some videos back in December,” Camilla explains. “We were lucky because we’d already planned to have something online, but we hadn’t actually put it together or done anything with it.”
The pair turned to online course platform Kajabi.com, and used it to create their online-only Mamma Method course, Stronger After Baby. The site gave them all the elements they needed to “drop in” their videos and structure the course. But creating the content was just the beginning. As Camilla puts it: “you can’t just put up a website and expect people to come.”
Now with four course launches under their belts and having made the equivalent of their entire 2019 profit in just three months of 2020, here are some of the ways they created a successful online business.
1. Consider investing in a business coach
Faced with the daunting prospect of switching to an online-only model, the Mamma Method team found a business coach who specialised in online courses. This guidance proved essential.
“To have someone who’s been there before and knows this industry to give some support was a game changer for us,” Camilla says. “See if you can get someone to help you who knows the space, because it’s always better to learn from someone than trying to do it all on your own.”
2. Identify a need, and build a community around it
The course, and the online community that comes with it – Mamma Method has a dedicated Facebook group – answers a real need among mothers with young babies enduring isolation. “It’s more than just a course you sign up for, it’s not just an app. What we are really building is a support network,” Camilla says. Part of this comes through “accountability groups” that provide a way for participants to keep in touch with each other and stay motivated.
“Obviously [Mamma Method] is a way to strengthen your body, but we don’t just talk about your body. It’s also your mind, and just giving you that extra hand you need right now, especially in these times.”
3. Engagement is key
Each Mamma Method programme launch is preceded by a free, five-day online fitness challenge. Offering a free challenge isn’t just a great way to grow an email list, it’s also a way to create a highly engaged audience. “You have to really get them excited about [your course] and teach them about it; and let them get to know you before they’re going to buy your programme,” Camilla reveals.
Once the paid course begins, there are plenty of ways participants can engage with its content. Along with on-demand videos and fortnightly live Zoom classes, Mamma Method offers live online Q&A sessions with Camilla, Keziah and their guest experts, such as a nutritionist, a physiotherapist and a babywearing expert. “You can tune in if you want but you don’t have to do it all,” Camilla explains. “As a mom especially, you don’t want it to be overwhelming.”
4. Go where your audience is
Mamma Method started out with a small but loyal online community of women who had taken part in their in-person classes, but the challenge was to reach out beyond this. One of the first platforms Camilla turned to was Instagram, and specifically influencers who were struggling to create content during lockdown.
“We didn’t have very much of a following initially, maybe about 800 or so followers, but right away I thought – you know what, there’s a lot of influencers who are out there who have babies who don’t know what to do with their followers either. So, I approached a ton of influencers and said, ‘do you want to do an online class together?’”
This was how Mamma Method ended up doing live-streams with the likes of Amy Willerton (342k followers) and top activewear brand Sweaty Betty (515k followers).
“Just being open to putting yourself out there is one of the best things you can do,” Camilla says. Which brings us to:
5. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone
“The first time I did an Instagram Live it was so awkward,” Camilla remembers. “But then over time, and with practice, I realised – I’ve got this, I know how to teach online. And it was the same with Zoom. The first time you do it, nothing is set up right and you don’t know what you’re doing, but now I have multiple lights, I have my computer set-up and my camera … you just get used to it over time.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect at all, and people don’t mind that. It’s just about interacting and trying to create a nice environment for people while they’re at home.”
Having successfully brought Mamma Method online, Camilla and Keziah continue to grow their business. In July 2020, the pair launched Femme Method, a follow-up programme for all women that uses the same principles and accountability model as Mamma Method.
Read more tips for online business success
This case study is part of the PagoFX Online Business Academy, a free resource for online-only businesses and entrepreneurs. Read our articles on everything from small business taxes to upskilling and managing your work-life balance.
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