Deborah Niemann’s story

Six Figure Instructor

2 minute read

  • Success Stories

The story of Deborah Niemann’s journey into the online course world starts with everyone’s favorite food: cheese. Specifically, goat cheese. Tending goats is not a typical prerequisite for starting an online course – but Deborah Niemann set out to turn a hobby into a successful business.

Deborah Niemann began living a sustainable lifestyle in 2002, when she moved with her family to the country to enjoy a more sustainable way of life, including raising goats. But she had a big problem: her goats were sick and dying, and she didn’t know why. After massive amounts of research, she discovered the cause and began helping friends with their own animals.

In-Home Seminar to Successful Online Course

The first venture into teaching, in-home seminars on animal care, was a flop.

“It all started out in my kitchen with people coming to my house and me showing like one person. And then I thought, ‘Okay, this is getting ridiculous’,” Deborah Niemann

She pivoted to courses with a bit more success – eight attendees rather than one – but still felt the pull of something more. She wrote a book that sold more than 5,000 copies, but royalties paid pennies on the dollar.

“I worked my tail off, but I really struggled for quite a few years,” Deborah Niemann

Finally, after teaching online at the University of Massachusetts, Deborah had her light bulb moment: she could find her niche audience who craved knowledge about raising goats in a much larger way with an online course.

“I had a couple thousand people in an online group that I moderated for people who were raising goats. And I kept telling them, ‘I'm making an online course for you’,” Deborah Niemann

Although she had no formal training in teaching, she built her course through trial and error. Her first idea was to cut down her book information into PowerPoint slides. Then, she tried a video course with iPad footage of her on-farm training, but poor audio quality made her scratch that idea as well.

Finally, she found Teachable, an easy-to-use platform made for course providers.

“I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be so hard. It's going to be so much work.’ And then I realized that it really wasn't that complicated,” Deborah Niemann

Ready to Launch

Deborah’s first course, Goats 101, was an experiment in validating the need for an online course on goats, but it worked. The course was originally priced at $129, but slashed the price. She sold 50 seats at $75. It got rave reviews, and she was ready to scale.

Her list was very small, mostly focused on her blog followers and fans of her book. With the advice from experts in the course marketing field, Deborah designed a smaller free course based on her most heavily visited page on the blog – a post about copper deficiency in goats. Within days, she had signed up 1,000 new people to her mailing list. Today, that list has grown to more than 4,000.

In addition to Goats 101, Deborah has several other online courses, including Just Kidding and Raising Kids about birthing and raising baby goats, a membership program, and a premium option with live Q&A, and more books in the works. She’s also planning to diversify with courses on making cheese and goat milk soap.

“I think 70, 80 percent of my income is from my online courses. It's way, way more money than books,” Deborah Niemann

As of today, Deborah Niemann has taught more than 5,000 from what started as a hobby, and enjoys every second of her homesteading life online. Her results are incredible, especially considering she started because of a love for goats.

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