Disclosure: My posts contain referral & affiliate links labeled with "(aff.)" to products and courses that reflect supporting side hustles. I serve as a "lead" and potentially make a commission when readers make informed decisions to purchase or sign up for a service using these special links. I am legally disclosing that I am an Amazon affiliate and a proud affiliate to products I make references to on Side of Hustle. With integrity and credibility on the line, it benefits no one to direct to crappy products. I am more than happy to field questions about products I endorse and how to best serve you.
If you're sought a comprehensive online blogging course, you'd hear Elite Blog Academy (EBA) namedropped regularly. Currently in version 3.0 (for 2017 and 2018) is acclaimed as the course to start a blog from foundation to business.
You've seen the price tag and you're reading up on reviews whether this is the course to take.
You've come across templates (generic swipe email files) to promote the course.
You're about to be hit with EBA sales pitches (if you haven't been already).
- 1 The sell
- 2 Click here to go Elite Blog Academy
- 3 Pros
- 4 Cons
- 5 My Journey in EBA
- 6 Going Further into the Rabbit Hole
- 7 Differences between 2.0 and 3.0
- 8 Dos and don'ts I've learned since EBA
- 9 Live 2017 and Live 2018
- 10 So, should you invest? How should I prepare for when the cart opens?
- 11 So, what are the different price points with Elite Blog Academy?
- 12 So, is there a bonus?
This is a long overdue post covering the differences between versions 2.0 and 3.0, pros and cons of taking the course, experience attending Activate 2017 and the Product Launch Playbook. These are all products I purchased out in hopes of a transformation and to accelerate the learning process.
- Self-driven folks needed. Setting up a blog to move from hobbyist to business personality takes grit. Blogging isn't a get-rich scheme, but it's a lower cost barrier for someone serious about setting up a business. Traction doesn't come fast for most blogs and doubt sets in if immediate results don't match realistic expectations.
- You gain access to thousands of other relatable bloggers in the course's Facebook group. I have FB notifications set for all initial incoming posts and I opt-into followup conversations for future topics. That's my way of contributing to the community. 🙂
- The bonus handouts in 2.0 are integrated better as part of the “assignments” in 3.0. Significant improvement in the curriculum.
- The unit Q & A videos and two-minute overviews are combined into a single video. Simplified is good.
- Transcripts for the main unit videos are available. Sadly none are offered for the Q & A.
- Virals have a reduced focus in 3.0. We all wish we have them regularly. Understanding of the “long game” is crucial as virals are fickle for traffic.
- Most people entering the program have a WHY and a stake. You need this because the investment of $897 in 2018 was equally, if not more, difficult to come up with than the $250 (2016). It was “expensive” then, it is still “expensive” now. There was also no payment plan then, so you needed a way to come up with that upfront cost. A payment plan isn't an entirely bad idea if it holds you uncomfortable, gives motivation and the accountability you need to make money to pay the installment.
- You can begin to blog anywhere. It's location independent. My favorite workplaces are lobbies, coffee shops, and coworking spaces.
- Distractions are sure to rise. If you're technically inclined (as most of us feel that we are), you start thinking that you need more. I knew going in I was going have gaps in Pinterest or setting up a blog. Setting up turns out to be a minor blip. There are complexities in dealing with the HTML/plaintext nature of WordPress.The course starts and assumes you have WordPress.org. The spacing isn't always right if you're drafting in Google Docs. I will also note from experience that you should draft directly in WordPress or use a plain-text editor. Word processors add extra code on the backend that we don't see.. but you will feel in frustration during proofreading and editing mode.
- Using any other platform hinders you once you gain traction. Just recently (February 22, 2018), a fellow blogger expressed frustration as she is switching from Wix to WP.org. If you're in this boat, hire tech support and see if they can help you retain SEO juice. The proposed solution (which is an ugly one) is copy paste each one of her posts.. assuming they are any good as it is not a complete one-to-one transfer. You don’t want to find this out as she did.
- I miss the Live Q & A sessions from 2.0. The Facebook group is fantastic for support except Ruth isn't too active on the Facebook group. Her team handles a majority of the support. Hey, that's automation and having a team at work (Unit 11-12). On the one hand, I understand she has lots of products (different streams of revenue! Unit 8/Product Launch Playbook), but I also wish she is more active to match the rising cost of the course itself.
- Rosemarie Groner of the Busy Budgeter told me that back in those days Rosemarie would show up consistently on those conference calls. That's how Ruth noticed her. Sadly with the rise of Facebook and video lives, I wish she went back to those roots.
- There are a lot of upsells once you are more invested in the material. The observant person is going to note the number of trip-wires, upsells and irresistible opt-ins (all covered in the course and Product Launch Playbook). If you're playing a long game and not seeing too much traction yet, it can be draining. Whereas if you've seen results, you're going be like, “this is genius!”. I have on more than one occasion “fallen prey” to some of them. The second time, I screenshot the copy (being the copywriter I am), so I have something to model my own lead magnets on.
- A minor annoyance is her upsells don't reward past buyers. Many times, it cost more as a previous buyer to be loyal to Ruth.
- It comes around once a year. There's also a decent affiliate payout for the leads generated hence you'll see EBA promoted like no other. If everyone sends a handful of emails a day.. that is one very full inbox (my god it's either effective or very annoying) over five days. And the two weeks or so leading to the cart opening. The strategy is simple really, not everyone reads each email or checks their box at different points of the day.
- I don't believe there will be a better time than when you have a goal and something at stake. Everyone has a WHY that might be holding him or her back. It's a huge decision to involve your family and to take a chance on yourself.
- The flexible refund policy has shrunken considerably. Do note now that it's 180days (6months) to complete all 36 assignments. I'm honestly somewhat shocked that means you need to double down two units per month to complete the course in 6months. Many success story EBA bloggers made claims in the past that it took them at least a year or two before they saw growth in their blogs. If you're wondering, EBA 2.0 seems to hint the refund policy was lifetime.
My Journey in EBA
I entered into EBA world in late 2016. Made progress until I hit Unit 3 and my side hustle (gift card reselling) took over. I have since reduced my time in sourcing after I made it one of my two goals: grow the blog to where I am proud and digging in further into copywriting.
I would never have had that clarity if I didn't break down last year from scaling too hard too fast in gift card reselling that finally, I knew it was the right time to step back and come back to evaluate the EBA framework once again.
The slim margins from reselling cut were chump change compared to the potential of setting up the blog right. Allow me to reach an audience by serving others. Reselling is a different beast. It requires one to have the eye to source the deals, mental calculation and it felt somewhat Robin-hoody while you get a return on investment (your margin). It also only helped me once the transaction was complete.
Selfishly, I want me to succeed so I am in a more authoritative position to coach and transform others to be their best selves. It's a lofty goal, but possible. I strive to look for the strength and admirable qualities in others.
Now in 2018, I'm wiser, stronger and you're going see Side of Hustle undergo visual changes. It required going back to the drawing board. I previously felt all overwhelmed by wrongly focusing on getting content out and there was no clear mental visualization how site navigation was going be. So it sat.
It was around this time that I came across copywriting again when studying affiliate marketing (Unit 9). Side-note, “copywriting” or the art of writing persuasively (found in sales and communication) was something discussed randomly in one of my first psychology courses as a career prospect. It combines assets from my double majors (Psychology and Linguistics). Who knew I could use both degrees without enlisting in the military? I could be one of the rare ones that use BOTH degrees!
Going Further into the Rabbit Hole
EBA is fairly comprehensive. The content covers the right amount of information but also felt too general in specific areas. I knew where there were holes and I strived to fix them. You'd have to tango carefully here because it derails you from continuing if you fixate too much the site looking imperfect. Your audience is going admire that you have something useful up instead something done too perfect.
One of my holes is Pinterest (Unit 3). Never got into it outside of blogging.. but I admit I have gotten haircuts based off images I found on Pinterest. People are making life-altering decisions and using Pinterest as a visual search engine, which is Pinterest's leg up to the Google. I have sought outside help and, well, that led to more course buying.
Tip: When you identify gaps, acknowledge them. Pull aside and get directions if that boosts your understanding and get back on the road. Fix one hole as you come along. Don't let them overwhelm you or try to apply multiple patches. Course junkiness is an addiction.
Differences between 2.0 and 3.0
One of the defining changes between 2.0 and 3.0 is the power of the avatar (Unit 1). Now, to be very fair, there is some woo-woo behind the logic. Understanding why you would write to one specific person is refreshing. It's like narrowing dating prospects. You start out with many (maybe… *wink*) until you find A ONE to be monogamous with. It's a similar thought process as “trying appeasing many, end up pleasing none.”
Look, you can have external friends and still have someone to come home to. That's how I see writing to one specific avatar. Know that “avatar” better than your significant other. 😉
In 2.0, the community was a separate membership site. In 3.0, it made a smooth transition onto Facebook. As someone who has notifications on new EBA posts, it has been a wonderfully supportive community. Most people are on similar journeys and asking intelligent questions. Those further often along chime in to help.
The reason why the external forum didn't work was that it made things more complicated for the user that already have hundreds of different usernames to memorize. It no longer stands out if I have to figure which one works with the platform. Back then I had no password manager either.. so I have to really like you to come to the site regularly. This is one of my current gripes with Slack. People already have a single Facebook account, and you don't have to set up a secondary or unique login to use the forum. If it becomes overly complicated (or ugly interface), people stop using it altogether. Something to consider for those of you thinking membership sites or Facebook/Slack groups. Ruth shared her experience having both during the Pre-workshop.
That said, more specific questions receive fewer views and whereas superficial or easier questions, such as “WP.org or Squarespace/ Wix/ Blogspot/ WP.com” gets lots of responses. Another downside is that fellow bloggers don't always use the search bar prior to asking questions, so there are a lot of repetitive questions and answers.
Transcripts had a cleaner layout. The print was more comfortable on the eyes and transitioned better between subtopics in 2.0. The dialogue in 3.o reads more clearly. Thoughts are concise and cut out the fluff language. I do appreciate both mediums offered. I like having a transcript in front of me as I go through the videos. Fewer distraction opportunities.
Dos and don'ts I've learned since EBA
- Do it right the first time, set your blog up on WordPress.org. Consider this. There are many more developers or technicians trained in WordPress. Do it right and don't cheap out if the solution is right already. Invest in yourself.
- Please don't see it as a subscriber numbers game. Yes, grow your list. Nurture the heck out of “your list” by being a quality person that you would want to friend in real life.
- Set up a mailing list first (Unit 5). Organic search finds a blog or you are smart about promoting in the right places (which could feel salesy). The demise of a social media (here's looking at you Periscope or Myspace) would mean that reduction in that revenue stream.
- Ruth says give at least a week per unit. That means 12 weeks minimum. Ideally, you should take about a month each, and you'll be proud of the progress after Year 1. Remember, long game! Some units are longer. Others are going be heartier, and it takes time to grow a following. Pinterest pins don't get views overnight! I write fewer posts because they are so long. 12 weeks is too short, but a solid timeframe to get a system in place.
- Everybody has technical barriers unless you come from a web development background. Decide early on whether you are going bootstrap or hire out the help to save frustration when something breaks. Things frequently break at every stage. I went with bootstrapping. Future maintenance will be outsourced. I like to know what goes on behind the scenes before I work on improving the processes involved. Done is more authentic than perfect.
- I'm not particularly excited about attaching graphics to my blog. I acknowledge whitespace between text helps break up large blocks of text and we are moving towards a more visual world. Personal solution? Learn Pinterest and get good at it. Instagram works too. I'll also get to develop good sticky SEO headlines and use copywriting to drive traffic. 🙂
- Losing yourself in funnel and automation creation makes the overall experience. Remember that your leads entering your funnels or signing up for your email list are humans you want to help, not bottomless money pits. Don't set yourself up to be a parasite.
Live 2017 and Live 2018
2017 is the first Live event. The EBA team intentionally coordinated the 2-day event to summarize the curriculum of Modules 1-4. The speakers consisted of her team and many of the EBA VIP Mastermind.
I went as a Live VIP (not to be confused with her mastermind), which included additional fringe benefits and the Pre-workshop. The Pre-workshop in 2017 focused on Product Launching, something I hope to move towards eventually. I have mentioned in the past that I have little interest in creating products, but instead promote the great existing ones of others (affiliate marketing and copywriting). That said, the workshop took what I learned from the Product Launch Playbook and crash course over two days. Ruth also disclosed more behind-the-scenes stories to other products not mentioned in the ebook.
Seeing her in the flesh, I've observed that she is incredibly business savvy (seven years in the making!) and the VIP Mastermind team was also learning from the Pre-Workshop (they somewhat beta-tested the Playbook before release). I found the Workshop to be worth the upsell as the mid-tier option. Unfortunately, the ebook and the Pre-workshop were considered separate products even when they covered the same subject. Also as a VIP, a benefit was access to the recorded videos of the entire conference. That said, the value felt diminished when the conference videos became a product available in The Genius Blogger's Toolkit 2017. I will say overall, it was a strategic partnership with Ultimate Bundle and a smart way to introduce a related product to funnel new prospects into EBA.
The September 2018 Pre-Workshop focus is “Blog to Business”… I am chugging to be close to completing the full course by then. We'll also have to see how much the main conference overlaps with 2017's. The primary “career” goal this year is to have the blog be the informational “copy” that allows me to develop my professional “copy” voice.
So, should you invest? How should I prepare for when the cart opens?
Before you do, I suggest taking a look at Ruth's first book “How to Blog without Selling Your Soul” (aff.), which is a useful physical book that you can say is a preview to what you're in for when you take EBA.
If you are concerned about price (less than $10 or free on Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans (aff.),
the book is the way to go. It's an easy read, though I recommend going through it again at some point. Only after you read the book should you consider committing to the course. There are ways to seek good free material or pay inexpensively to see if EBA is going work for you. Note the course is ~100x more than the book. Math, of course, without accounting for upsells.
EBA opens once a year around Q1 (Jan-March) for about 5 days. The easiest way to learn more about EBA is to sign up and take notice of these irresistible opt-ins. 😉
Click on one or all the links and save them in a folder somewhere and study them later. You're also going want to go through them in preparation for the cart opening up. I am disclosing if you click on and purchase through one of my links, I may be “paid” as an affiliate of EBA should you decide to sign up for the course.
What if you can't honestly afford EBA?
It is an expensive decision for most people and if it isn't, chances are it isn't a high enough stake for you. I do think that's why part of my growth has been “slower” than I would have liked. I distract easily and a chronic illness stacked against me. My current stake (student and consumer debt) has raised my motivation and drive to continue blogging and hustling. For me, I do most of my blogging at night when others (when the pups are asleep) and making full use of the days when I have help with the pups.
I have since made back the cost of the course with affiliate sales. This is something I want to continue growing on my blog as a side hustle.
I'll also be even more honest here. You don't need to do EBA to get going. It helps as a self-paced framework, but affordable alternatives are:
- Billionaire Blogging Club (aff.). Serviced by serial entrepreneur blogger (10+ in different niches that he oversees, which is a feat on its own). Paul Scrivens intends to have a one-time fee for access to a Slack group and library of lessons covering these areas: SEO, BoardBooster, Niche Selection, Pinterest (!), Affiliate Marketing (!), Email Marketing (!), Google Analytics, WordPress and Content Creation. These are going be places where you're going have holes in EBA. They are my holes. The inspiration behind “billionaire” is a community of bloggers that'll collectively hit $1bil in the foreseeable future. Go through the 12 Day Course Funnel for more details.
- Blogger U (aff.). Serviced by financial savvy and passionate blogger, Pete McPherson.. his blog and course are extremely meta. He studies and regularly communicates with very experienced bloggers to move away from blogger mediocrity. The inspiration serves as a certification or online college degree for blogging. Makes you think that those years at university. Hmmm.
- Start a Mom Blog 5 Course Bundle (aff.). Serviced by Suzi Whitman with what you need to set up: niche, blog, list, theme, and ebook creation.
For whichever price point, I do recommend you pick at least one option and use that to accelerate blog growth. It is a waste of time to Google how to grow and sustain a blog because it's free. If it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. A right course is a smart shortcut using the experts or masterminds who set out to before you. Reallocate those hours you would spend trial and error and do things better and smarter. In life, nothing is more expensive than time. We don't know much more we have left.
There is always next year. Choose to be your best advocate and if you're ready this year, take on the challenge this year. There are going be newer obstacles next year. The best time to start something is yesterday. The next best time is right now.
There are also different forms of debt. There is consumer debt, and there is investment debt. The latter is better than jumping to own the next phone model. Believe in yourself that you can build towards a better quality of life.
So, what are the different price points with Elite Blog Academy?
This year, there are three tiers, do note the installment plan options gives you access to the first 3 Units, paying in full opens up the remaining 9:
Silver (course only): Full-Price: $897, saves $153 off payment plan Payment Plan: $1050 – $350/month for 3 months
Both Gold and Platinum are attractive if you are planning to attend the live component (I'll see you there!) and includes a Facebook Ads training. Gold covers the general ticket and Platinum covers the VIP. I'm going venture that the Workshop is going be an upsell for Gold, which I highly recommend if you're going attend. I would argue the Workshop is “better” than the main event. Platinum includes the Workshop.
Gold: Full-Price: $1197 for EBA Course + EBA Live ($697 value) (no registration fee, priority registration) Payment Plan: $1380 – $460/month for 3 months
Platinum: $1997 for EBA Course + EBA Live VIP ($1497 value)(no registration fee, priority registration) $2298 – Payment Plan – $766/month for 3 months
*** Hint: The best times to buy are either the first couple of days (fast action bonuses) or during the Webinars (topic: A Simple Framework for Success) (aff.). ****
So, is there a bonus?
I would earn a commission. Let's get that out of the way. There are a few other hurdles, of course. You'd have to be a brand new lead for EBA for it to count for me. I have reason to believe that you're doing your due diligence and reading every review for EBA right up until the cart open (so you're not). But if you are brand new, go and opt-into Ruth's attractive magnets below. If nothing else, save them as samples of creating your future opt-ins and leads.
That said, I have no plans to promote EBA 2018 via an email list, so every lead I do receive is going be through organic traffic. So it could very well be nothing or lots of eyeballs.
I published this post at the start of the launch, so I hope that means I'm a little bit more honest in my enthusiasm towards the course. There's a chance I'll gravitate to promoting EBA 2019 via email. Until then, I want to be naturally as helpful with or without the monetary incentive to get you onboard. Let's face it, “courses” are the new gateway drug to the modern online business. If you're going get caffeinated, choose your hits wisely.
First, you're going get all the extra bonuses as part of this year's Launch. If you are planning on getting the course, the best time to sign up is in the first half of the five day sale. There is usually an extra “fast action bonus” as it is called to entice those to take immediate action. There's nothing wrong with signing up an hour before the cart officially closes, of course.
Glad you asked! As a newer blogger, I can't offer to scrap a good physical (or digital bonus) together. What I can offer is to be your friendly sidekick as you go through the course. If you haven't noticed my style of writing, I'll tell it like it is. EBA is an excellent overall course and one that earns my recommendation as a framework. I acknowledge that there are holes that I can help you patch up or provide you guidance to seek those resources because I've been through them myself.
I feel that offering a bonus (there's going be a lot of compelling rabbits popping out), I'm detracting you (the reader) from the actual course, which is already a hefty responsibility. Finish the foundation first and then look to supplement your learning.
Because I receive a potential commission for referring a charged and motivated blogger-in-training, it supports the livelihood of this site, AND it goes back into serving others.
If you buy through me, send me a message or comment below so I have a way to contact you to extend the offer of additional support.
And even if you don't, I would love to know more about you and your upcoming blogging journey.
Here are links to all of EBA's opt-ins this year. Download them and take notes for inspiration for your magnets. And yes, there are quite a few!
- Build Your Blog Bootcamp – EBA alum members are in there to help this year's recruits. Take advantage of some of EBA's known faces. Happening right now! 🙂
- Success Stories
- Blogging Made Simple
- The Secret Blueprint for Blogging Success
- 10 Steps to Take When a Blog Post Goes Viral
- 8 Bad Blogging Habits & How to Break Them
- 120 Awesome Blog Post Ideas
- The New Blogger's Guide to Guest Posting
- 2018 Blogging Trends eBook
- Blog Structure Blueprint
- 7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Income Overnight
- EBA Assessment
Comment and leave questions below! I'm more than happy to answer them before you drop a hefty sum even if you end up not buying from me. I'm curious also to know what other parts of this review is incomplete.. so you have the best-informed decision going in.
Go out and be the blogger you want to be!
Here's the direct link to Elite Blog Academy's sales page.
PS. Reading this post outside of the March 5-9th 2018 enrollment period? Go ahead and waitlist. Sometimes there are “secret” sales for the prospects on EBA's waitlist.