In this episode, Chris talks with entrepreneur and educator, Daniel Scott, about why teaching not only brings him joy, but how lucrative it can be for anyone willing to put in the work.
In this episode, Chris talks with entrepreneur and educator, Daniel Scott, about why teaching not only brings him joy, but how lucrative it can be for anyone willing to put in the work. They get deep into the inner workings of Daniel’s online teaching business, how he got started and even how much revenue he earns from it all.
Daniel is an online course creator and instructor, and co-founder of Instructor HQ. With a natural inclination to help people, it only made sense for Daniel to choose the career path he did. Teaching others has always brought him an immense amount of joy, and the opportunity to play with and explore technology further only adds to his drive.
Initially, Daniel wanted to be a graphic designer, but fate would have a different plan for him. He was roped into teaching purely by accident, and found his new calling. It was this small accident that would shape his teaching career forever.
For those who are considering entering the field of teaching, Daniel shares two pieces of advice: make sure the subject is profitable and that it’s simple. The subject you’re teaching needs to bring value and be useful to students time after time.
Daniel credits his success to the power of online video. Because you can take the time and effort to make the video course evergreen and valuable for years after you’ve made it, it’s set up in a way to reel in profits.
For Daniel, he makes sure to keep his video courses present throughout several online education platforms—over 20 to be exact—on top of his personal website.
He’s definitely not your typical teacher, but the amount of tricks Daniel has up his sleeve for several Adobe creative tools are amazing.
Learn more about Daniel and his methods to earn a substantial income as a teacher in the full episode.
Chris: So Daniel, thank you very much for coming on the show. For everybody who doesn't know who you are, please introduce yourself.
Daniel: Yeah, I'm Daniel Scott's. I am an online course creator and a co-founder of Instructor HQ.
Chris: I'm hearing a little bit of an accent, Daniel. Where are you from?
Daniel: Yeah, I'm from New Zealand. Good for asking. Most people say Australian and then we can't be friends.
Chris: Right. That's what I hear. So you can't mess up the Kiwis with the Australians, right.
Daniel: You got to ask, man. You got to check, just in case.
Chris: Now, can I ask you culturally like why is that a deal?
Daniel: I don't know, anybody, like it's Canadians versus Americans. It's the Scottish versus the English. It's Australian versus New Zealand, it's nothing in particular. It's just that good at everything. We're good at a few things, so we...
Chris: Okay. You guys are close in proximity and unfortunately are lumped together, and maybe that's part of the problem.
Daniel: We're very similar. We're really similar. We have a lot of friendly rivalry.
Chris: Yes. And there's shared history. Right? Like New Zealand was founded by Australians, right?
Daniel: Oh, jeez. No.
Chris: No? Tell me about it.
Daniel: England founded us all. That's what happened.
Chris: Right. Okay. I understand that. I guess I've been watching too much of Bounty or something.
Daniel: Australians didn't come and found us. Somebody-
Chris: Okay. Okay. We'll probably edit that whole part out about how…
Chris: Okay. So for people who don't know, like what does it mean to be a content or course educator? Even the term educator. Can you give us a little bit more about what that means, in just layman's terms?
Daniel: Yeah, because I guess you can tackle e-learning online educator a few ways. My way is I basically make courses online, video courses, and I help people kind of like how-to videos basically. That's how I approach content creation. I do a lot of stuff around it to support it. So a lot of stuff through social and things like that. But it's basically all drawing back to supplying people with courses that yeah, they sign up and do.
Chris: Now, if you're picking up the accent, the vibe and the energy, there's a good chance you already know who you are. I mean Daniel's been on our show twice and you've authored a very popular video on these Illustrator tips-
Daniel: That's doing well.
Chris: It is doing really well. I pretend like I'm an Illustrator expert in air quotes. And then you mentioned some things like dang, I didn't know you could use that tool in that way. And now it's really cool and I think people are having a similar discovery. So let me get back into your history, your background, a little bit about what makes you tick? Like why are you such a nerd when it comes to learning these things, and how did that come to be?
Daniel: I don't know. What I've worked out I think is get my joys out of life in helping people, and technology and that side of things. I'm an okay creative, but I enjoy the technology part of it really a lot. And I really enjoy the helping people. Like I'm the guy in the office who when the printer jams to come get me, when Photoshop's spitting out bad plates for your press, I'm the guy to come see. Like I really enjoyed that part of it. So I don't know. So I learn more about it and I keep learning more about it, and I keep sharing. That's what I like to doing. So, yeah.
Chris: And when did you realize this? How old were you? Where were you?
Daniel: So I guess I got thrown into teaching software stuff. I was in classes at university and a lot of art schools. Thus, the training in terms of the hard skills of software was pretty poor. Like, our instructors were lovely and were... Like the theory was amazing. But like a lot of those sorts of degrees you end up with like, very good theory, but not a lot of hard skills or practical software skills.
Daniel: So I started teaching myself in class and one of the teachers were trying to run the class. I ended up half running it. Then they said, "How about you actually run it?" And that was really weird. I was teaching the night class. Like in my second year of university, I was teaching the night classes how to do it, and you're like... So I got asked to do it and I was like, "Yes." And I started doing it and I enjoyed it and I deviled in and out of doing that, helping out teaching as well as kind of... I assumed I was going to be a graphic designer and I did that for a long time and slowly but surely realized that actually I enjoyed the helping other people do amazing stuff then to actually do amazing stuff myself.
Chris: So I'm thinking then you're like 19, 20 years old, you're in your second year in university. Is that about right? Or are you some kind of child prodigy? Yeah, so you're picking up the software and everybody, the teacher recognizes this, that you actually know better, you know more and you can learn this faster. And it does happen that this is the case because not everybody grew up with computers or the internet.
Chris: And so the generation that grows up on the tools, it's second nature. It's like walking, breathing and everything else. Right? So there you are, you emerge and you find that, "I have this skill." And does the path back to teaching take a pause while you're exploring your design career? Are these two things happening simultaneously?
Daniel: No, I was 80% designer, 20% helping out night schools. Somebody got stuck somewhere, I ended up lecturing for a little while, but it was just a, "Please go do it." I did it. Still on my path to being a creative. And yeah, it was just bits and pieces. And I guess I just realized in myself eventually that the... I don't know, I got to a point where I was doing lots of freelance work that allowed me to do the training stuff as well. So I could do a bit of that job, a bit of that job. And I don't know, I felt like I've had to explore a lot of the agency work that felt like the Mecca, that kind of place to be where, you know? And I didn't like it. Like it wasn't for me.
Daniel: I felt like I would be a really good middleweight designer, but that next level was not the kind of stress that I like. I felt like that was a different job. Being judged with agency as you know, is a lot different than being handed the job and doing a job. And that's what I wanted to do, but I felt like, I don't know, stuck in that middle bit. I realized to myself when I finished teaching, I had joy. And I had it the end of every day. I walked away going, "Man, I did something." And they all said thank you. Whereas, as a designer, I don't know, I felt like, you get thrown bones from your creative director, but it's not a daily thing, definitely. And it's more often than not, the stress didn't, they didn't balance out for me. Yeah.
Chris: So when you finished teaching everyday you get a thank you and sometimes with client where you'd get a four letter word and a three letter word, but not always the right words you want to hear, right?
Chris: Sometimes the work that you do for clients is totally unappreciated and that this is a stressful thing to go through.
Daniel: I knew it was part of that, right? I was funneled through my creative director all the time. So he would go, "High five," and then come back with some changes. And I know you'd be like, or she would be like, "Oh bubble though. We're on these changes." But really what you're thinking is, "They hated it. That pitch was so bad, and it's my fault."
Chris: Well you had a good creative director then to shield you from that. Because sometimes I would go back and like, "You know what, this thing did not go well. Let me tell you how it went down." Well what was it like? I just want them to feel a little bit of a pain when they initiated the experience. Just like, share a little bit of it. I'm a sharing kind of guy."
Chris: All right. So when you're making this decisions to yourself, like I'm enjoying this way more and enjoying this. Okay. And there's the next level, I'm not sure I want to get into. Was this like a hard decision for you? Because people struggle with finding out what they're good at all the time. And I think a lot of it is because they're stuck with an idea of what they're supposed to be in life and instead of pursuing what life tells them to be?
Daniel: Yeah. I was lucky that I got thrown in, like my director in my university said he could probably teach this class and I was lucky that, that happened? Because like everybody, I'm really confident in front of the camera now, but like everyone I started and stumbled my way through high school with speeches and stuff. And like that was the worst thing in the world. Like days leading up, feeling sick and I don't know. I got thrown into it and did it enough, committed to a time, did it. And by the end of it I actually enjoyed it.
Daniel: So I don't know, I got forced into that, checking it out, which I feel is like super lucky because I figured out I like it. I'd never put my hand up to do it because who does that? I want to do public speaking. I feel like people wonder their way into it, rather than going, "Yeah, that's going to be awesome." Maybe for some people. But I felt lucky that way.
Chris: Very few people actually ever want to sign up for public speaking. It's like next to death, it's like right there.
Daniel: It really is. Yeah.
Chris: So you had somebody who spotted your talents and your skill and invited you in, right? Did I hear that right?
Daniel: Yep, that's right.
Chris: So if you're a young person and somebody doesn't exist in your world that can do that for you, how can they find that thing about themselves too? Do you have any tips for them? Like looking back, you were like, "Oh I should've spotted those signs."
Daniel: I find for myself maybe I've always done it. I don't know. I've done it for a long time. It's the beginning of the year, I have a little look back and try to look at the things that happened and try and pick out little bits that were good. And it's only at that stage that I go, "Actually I enjoyed that." Because in the middle of it, it was hard and was scary and took a lot of work and it wasn't until... Actually, I would do that again.
Daniel: So I like, I guess it's just seeing what's happened to you and what's going on around you. But taking, I don't know when it is, maybe it's your birthday. Maybe. I use new year because in New Zealand it's summertime, it's party time, because it's the middle of summer. But yeah, that's my... I take a day and just write down everything and go through it all at once. It's served me well for kind of going, "Actually I want to do that. I thought I did, let's not do that anymore." Otherwise, you stumbled into next year doing the same thing again and I've been quite meaningful that way.
Chris: Let me ask you a couple of questions here. Do you have any professional teaching certificates? Are you certified? And In which way as an instructor?
Daniel: I am, yep. I have Adobe Certified Instructor status for pretty much all the software. Yep. That's what I've got. But no, yeah, no formal teaching education other than being thrown in early.
Chris: And was it difficult to achieve the certification? And what does that mean for you? And does it mean something to other people too?
Daniel: No. For me, early on in my career, so before I started teaching online, I taught live classes and that was a requirement. To teach at Adobe Certified Training Center, you have to be certified. I've kept my certification going, for the only fact is Adobe makes me keep it because I own a certified training center in New Zealand, more the live stuff and I can't have that center certified without me being an instructor certified. But people do come to me a lot and say, "Hey, I want to get this." And it's fine. You can do it, but you'd have to probably make sure that it's going to be recognized in your company. But generally, I don't know about you, but I've hired designers before and portfolio is the only thing I want to know about. I don't care about much else. You know? I want to know what you did, not what bits of paper you got.
Chris: And how hard is it for you to gain your certification?
Daniel: It's pretty hard. Initially you've got to go into a place, do a test. For people that want to do like Adobe certification, there's three levels. The Adobe Associate is probably what most people want, and that's easier. That's what somebody wasn't good. When people are grinding on it everyday they can probably pass that exam, and then you get Adobe Certified Expert, which is what I need to be an instructor. That is no fun. That is real crazy tricks in the test to try and work out, do like stuff that you'd never use.
Daniel: And some parts you're talking about Photoshop for filmmaking and then it's Photoshop for, I don't know, like separations in print. So unless you've got a really good broad skills. I have to do it twice basically to get it, because I need to do it once to fail to realize what this year the exam actually has in it. So if you are thinking I'm going to go do it, the expert one, go do bank on doing it twice. First one I'm hardcore, I know loads and I often is left to do it twice.
Chris: I see. Can you give us an example of like, one of the questions where like, "Oh well, who would want to know this and how is it?" Like in terms of separation, separating for print, is it like they give you a file and they're like, "Okay, prepare this for X, Y, Z press."
Daniel: You have to actually give them the... like they'll do weird things like... I don't value the exam very much. I hope Adobe's not listening, but they give you multi choice and what they'll do is, say you want a proof for CMYK, where do you go? Is it window, view, separations thing? Or is it under edit, color mode? And like it's the right name, but they've hidden it? So you know yourself, you go up there. Even me, I'm like, "I'm pro trainer." I'm like, "Is it in it? No. Image?" You slide over them until you see it, but they want to know exactly where it is.
Daniel: So I find that plus things like they'll dive into weird file formats that nobody uses anymore or they really want you to use, like you have to be using this DSB file and you're like, "Who uses a DSB file? What does a DSB file even mean?" I know because of the exams, but like if you're a just a good pretty amazing Photoshop user or InDesign user. Ooh, she's tough.
Chris: So is that an open laptop computer exam where you could actually look it up like there? Yeah, that's fine.
Daniel: So the initial exam, yeah, you've got to go into a testing lab. A Prometric, I think do it. And they sit you down in a booth. They take everything out of your pockets. It's hardcore. Then-
Chris: Oh, my gosh.
Daniel: Yeah, you've got to go in there like hand over your phone. I know you've watch because there smart watches now, they'll take everything. So you're sitting there in your underwear doing the exam, but-
Chris: I'm visualizing that, right now by the way.
Daniel: But once you get a certification, you can put that effort into it. And then afterwards you can do, it's an open book online at home. You can be in your underpants just at your own house. So-
Daniel: Once you've got it, the update, you can just Google it, but they want to know you can do it first and then top you up with a Watson, the new versions.
Chris: I see. So is that one of the reasons why you know all the little nooks and crannies and weird spots that people aren't looking into?
Daniel: No, that stuff goes in and out because it's just not... I'm like everyone, I only know it loads because I teach it loads. So I like it and I enjoy knowing the weird bits and I love nudging somebody to say, "No, actually this way day, like save an hour of your life." And I love knowing that. But no, I'm not going to just learn it because it's in there. I want to know it has a purpose, and like there's 10 ways of doing stuff. I'm the curator of doing it ways, doing it a certain way. That's my special power anyway. I think.
Chris: So. Do you find the 10 ways to do it and then say, based on real world experience, these are only two ways you really need to learn.
Daniel: That's it. So it's handy being a... There are Photoshop experts who are quite technicians with... It's really handy that I'm actually doing creative stuff, so I'm like always like, "That thing I thought in the last version of the class was good. I found this other way because I'm actually doing it and using it. So no, I don't want to know. Yeah, I want to go through them all, but then I want to try them all."
Chris: There are a lot of people out there who teach how to use tools, and I think you do it better than most. What makes you so unique? What's your take on, Daniel?
Daniel: I think doing it for a long time is probably the best part of it. Like I know some amazing instructors who are as good as or better than me. Where I feel my values come from is probably flowing the course in terms of introducing bits at different times. Seeing the cause for being 50 videos rather than trying to do everything's about masking in and there's one video. We'll do a little bit here and I feel like later on we can do this bit and this bit and coming back and forth over that loop to figure out the best order is just moving things around. I feel like that seems to do really well for the classes is just weird to introduce it. Not so much how it's delivered or it's just how and when it's introduced. The pacing I guess is probably.
Chris: If I'm getting started and I think education is something I would really like to get into, do you have any tips for me in terms of how do I... what are the first steps that people always get stuck on? What are the first two or three steps I need to do to see if this is right for me?
Daniel: So stick to online video. There's lots of other ways of doing it but, man it's booming at the moment in terms of online video style things, and because you can put amazing amount of effort into it and have it... do that one class and have it around for years. But in terms of getting started, it's probably making sure you get the right topic to start with because you need that early win. You need two things, you need to make sure it's going to be profitable. If this is something that you want to do for a living. Sure it needs to be profitable and you probably need to keep it short. Those are the two things.
Daniel: You want it to be a win. You want to go. "Yep. I am actually earning some cash from it so I can feel like I'm using my spare time for the second course." Because that's what you want to get to. But you also need to make sure it's... because it doesn't matter how profitable it is if you never finish it. So keep it like nice and short, five to 10 videos, that's kind of... And I'm doing like five to 10 minute per video. That's what I'm doing. That's my strategy, but short profitable.
Chris: Self publish or publish on somebody else's platform?
Daniel: Both. Both. Some people are one or the other, I am, definitely do on both. I earn maybe two thirds of my income from other marketplaces like, I'm in Skillshare and I own a third from my own. And it's just nice to be on lots of places. And the way the thing most people don't know is it doesn't have to be exclusive. It's weird. So when you are filming don't talk about the platform or talking about your site. Try and keep it very generic so that you can. Like I've got my courses on StackSkills, CyberU, Skillwise, like probably about 25 sites, and two of them pay out most and the other ones collectively bring in a little bit themselves and my own site. Yeah.
Chris: Do you have to make them any bit different for these 20 sites or no?
Daniel: No, I did some stuff on Fiverr, recently. Fiverr Learn. They've just released their own thing. They wanted some unique stuff, so I did some changes for them, but the core is still the same. It's amazing how many people don't know. You can just, as long as, check on my intros, if anybody's interested. I just make sure they're non platform specific, either my own site or their site. So you're walking to them. It gets a little awkward when you download the exercise files. You're like, "Hey, there'll be a link on the page to download the..." And there always is, there's a link on the page, I've gotta go find it.
Chris: Somewhere something will exist. And if you're smart enough, you'll figure it out. That's your call to action?
Chris: Because they're very different in each platform. Right?
Daniel: Yeah. I also have my own like hosted one on Instructor HQ, which just has a like a bulk page where anybody can go to, any platform and just download it. Keeps everybody [inaudible 00:22:02].
Chris: Okay. So I would love to get transitioned into the business side of things a little bit. You mentioned earlier that you have an in person training space to teach people. How big is that space? How many people run it or what's the size of students that you can take on?
Daniel: Yeah, so it's based in New Zealand and it is a room, we take on 12 at a time. It's takes 15 yeah, about 12 is all we can take on at once. There is a bunch of instructors running the different classes and there is a CEO over there who... I started it, did all the courses, did everything, was moving from New Zealand to Ireland. So slowly backed my way out by hiring around me. So it's a small business, like the turnover is not huge, but it's fully managed and it leaves me a bit of profit at the end of every year. But yeah, that's that one.
Chris: So this is something that you ran for some time until you figured out like, "I'm going to design my replacement and then somebody else is going to run it." And you'd trust them to deal with all that day to day operations?
Daniel: Yeah. I do nothing anymore. I don't even know what classes are running, like it's pretty amazing. Margaret in New Zealand just runs the show, and I come up with a schedule of what classes should run. I go to my kind of a spidey senses for what got canceled and what is popular and what's new coming out in the industry and basically that's my role done. Then I've got instructors delivering the content and yeah.
Chris: Wow. So it's pretty much run by your CEO, I think you mentioned her name is Margaret and she just runs marketing, enrollment, customers service, all that stuff?
Daniel: That's it. She does it all and supports the instructors and the instructors know what they're doing and basically they operate, they don't need a lot of support, they're professionals and they basically do run the day by themselves. They're able to do that. So that runs and it's cool and it's what got me going from doing other people's stuff to doing my own stuff. And before I transitioned into the online world.
Chris: How long did you run that company before you're able to transition out of it?
Daniel: So maybe after about a year and a half I started looking for instructors to take that away. Then I ran it as the kind of a CEO for maybe another year and a half before I got help. And it was more just like I'm second in command and then I realized she's better than me. Like I love doing the education part, but I don't like managing a business. I love building the systems but not delivering the system which she loves. You give her a structure and she will make it run super smooth.
Chris: Is she a teacher too?
Daniel: Nope. Nope.
Chris: Like a business person?
Daniel: She's in the creative industry. She's a typographer. So while-
Daniel: Yeah retired from topography and runs that now.
Chris: I think you're pretty transparent about things and if I recall from our last conversation, do you mind if we talk a little bit about the business and the numbers?
Daniel: Yeah, I like to talk about numbers.
Chris: So I know there's another business here, so I just want to get clarity on the first business. So you basically did this for about three or so years and then before you're able transition out. First of all, congratulations. That's wonderful. I'm sure people are listening like, "Oh my God. How was this possible so fast?" And well, once you meet Daniel, you'll know why. Okay, so let's get into this part. How much gross revenue is that bringing you on an annual basis?
Daniel: So for me, leftover for after everything's paid, it's between 60 so actually let's do your style, let's do 45 to 70,000 US dollars a year. So not enough to live on. Well it depends lots of people could live on it, but it was, I was earning 200,000 when I was doing it all myself and that was lovely and that was amazing times and I don't know what to do with the money but by the time I hired around me thinking the business will keep up with growth, it just didn't, it's a fixed location. So it didn't, I grew a little bit, I grew like everyone does like 10% but I took on like 200% costs. So I'm happy though that the beautiful thing about it is that it is self running. Like it is so amazing that the people there just make it happen. They've got responsibility and they take it seriously. I love them.
Chris: That's awesome, and because it's basically at this point taking very little mental capacity for you to let it run its course, right? So you put in three years of really good work, you spent all the money on drugs and fast cars.
Daniel: That's it. That's exactly what I did. Yeah.
Chris: Now you're more mature. You're like sober-
Daniel: Nappies and formula, yeah.
Chris: Right, right. So now the money's coming in, like you said for some people that's a tremendous amount of money, but it's not yet enough for you to like sit on your yacht and just be like, "Okay, it's cool."
Chris: It's not exactly.
Daniel: Yeah, it's-
Chris: Let's move it to the other side.
Daniel: It was hard to take that big cap, like go from 200 grand to 45 some years. Like it's been going for a few years now on autopilots so about three or four now. So it's really consistent. It depends on how much I want to blow on new initiatives depending on whether I get the 65 or the 45.
Chris: So now then there's a gap here, obviously and now you have mental space to do other things and you're doing the online courses and this is your thing now, right?
Daniel: Yeah. Yep.
Chris: And then let's talk about this business now. So explain to everybody like, okay, I understand the first business now. What's the second business here? What does that look like?
Daniel: The second or the third one? So the online course stuff or the Instructor HQ thing, what are we talking about?
Chris: Yeah. There's two. Okay, let's go one business at a time. Let's go number two first.
Daniel: Okay. So basically I transitioned that kind of knowledge into online courses. So same sort of thing. Same making course. We about delivering it through online videos and that's what I've been doing for the last three years, nearly four now. And yeah, so that's where that went. So same but different delivery method.
Chris: So you use the learnings from teaching in-person transition it to like, okay, how are we going to deal with this in video format because I can't talk to people.
Daniel: Yeah. It was less strategic. It was all right, I'm going to go to Ireland. So I'm from New Zealand. That's where the business was. I married an Irish girl, decided that at that stage, three or four years ago to come to Ireland and I was like, "All right, I know how to do the whole in-classroom thing. I'm going to start that in Ireland, the exact same thing in New Zealand. To learn how that works, and Aaron keeps telling me to go online so I'm going to start that at the same time and race them. I literally was like, all right, I'm going to just stop both of them and see, maybe I need both of them or maybe one we'll just do well better than the other. All right, let's just try both. And I closed down the Irish one pretty quick because the online one went bananas.
Chris: How long did the race last?
Daniel: Probably, well it was a year and a half. So it wasn't-
Chris: That's good time. It wasn't instantaneous.
Daniel: Yeah, it took us time but yeah I wrapped it up.
Chris: What were the factors leading into like saying one was the clear Victor and...
Daniel: Just mainly like effort versus reward. Like I would put in, I would deliver a course. I put together the material for say an InDesign course or an after fix course and put it in the material and I deliver it in person. And I was getting like, I don't know, 700 euros, maybe 800 US dollars a day. And that was cool. But classes went running every day and a lot of exhaustion and then I would put in the same amount of effort into an online course and it would be earning $50 a day.
Daniel: And after a year and a half, those $50 start adding up and they start happening every day. And then you realize, "Huh, I can do another course and compound that, and then I can compound it." And as soon as I worked out that I had a few other courses to make and that it's so exhausting doing the live stuff and it's so nice doing the video stuff, like work from home, spend time with my kids. I put effort in, but it's, I don't know, I'll walk across into my workshop rather than driving all the way around Ireland to deliver classes.
Chris: Okay. This is making a lot of sense. Let's lean into this. Daniel is working from home, commute's gone, he's making passive income on both businesses at this point because once you build it, there's intellectual property, it's getting you residual income. And at first you look at 50 euros to 700, that's a big gap. And so your idea was just volume. Let's get it up there. And then eventually you're making money while you sleep, while you eat on the weekends when you're playing. And I just want to point out to everybody since they can't really see us, you're calling in from your house in Ireland and I'm calling in from my house in the Palisades in Santa Monica.
Daniel: I live in the gym.
Chris: This is pretty cool, right? We are living the dream and we have pretty awesome setups. And here's another thing is when you work from home, you can make a pretty significant capital investment in equipment and lighting and microphones and all that stuff. And it's in your house. You don't have to do it double.
Daniel: Everything to the business man, tax free, tick toys. It's cool.
Chris: Now how much is business number two generating for you in gross revenue?
Daniel: It's consistently now over a 100,000 a month U.S.
Daniel: Yep. Still rolling.
Chris: That's great man. And are you editing your own videos or do you have a whole team behind you?
Daniel: Yeah, I've build that out. So I have Jason, my editor. Taylor does editorial review and then yeah, I needed the recording now. I build the course where I do the recording and then that's where my job ends. I've worked out processes for the other stuff and I've just got amazing people that help getting it out to the different places and distribution and editing and review and it's, yeah. So I focus on what I enjoy and let them do what they enjoy.
Chris: And are you constantly writing and producing new courses all the time?
Daniel: Was, up until recently. Well, kind of. I'm putting a lot of effort into Instructor HQ, that kind of thing. So I kind of going half. Yeah, but not half and half. I'm doing... I can't do half and half, like half online courses and half Instructor HQ, I need to do blocks of time. So at the moment I'm in Instructor HQ mode until the end of the year and then jump back into some course making and then do the same thing again. There's any way can do it.
Chris: Okay. As you can tell, now we're going to shift into Daniel's third business and this is incredible and I want to point out to everybody that's listening that he has the mental space to do stuff because he's really good at developing systems and also pulling himself out of doing all the work. And this is something young entrepreneurs do not figure out. They need to get their hands in every single part. In the first business, in you're online, your in class, in person training. What is that called by the way?
Daniel: Bring Your Own Laptop?
Chris: Bring Your Own Laptop. Okay. So Bring Your Own Laptop is the school that's in New Zealand that takes about 12 to 15 students that's generating about 45 to $70,000 ish for your passive income. That frees him up. He goes to Ireland, he tries it again and this time he validates the business models actually better online. He's doing his thing, he scales and then he's then developing a process and getting other people to help make it so that he is only doing the most absolute vital thing, which is conceptualizing the course, making plans, recording and then somebody else, a whole team of people take care of everything else. Now what's that business called? Is it also called laptop learning?
Daniel: Bring Your Own Laptop. Yeah.
Chris: Bring Your Own Laptop.
Daniel: It's got the same name. I'm going to pivot the, well I'm going to change the name in New Zealand out because it is causing some confusion with all the online stuff. So that was probably a bad. It happened. So I'll switch out the smaller business to a new name.
Chris: I see and then the third business called Instructor HQ. Now is this your learning platform?
Daniel: That's it.
Chris: Okay. Tell us about this. Where did this come from?
Daniel: Yeah, so basically it's a platform for hosting courses. So I built it my... So there's Teachable or Thinkific, those are places you can, or platforms that there'll be competitive. So that was an option to me when I was making my courses and I'm a... I don't know if it was like I didn't find what I needed there or I just like building it myself.
Daniel: So I built a hacky hokey version. So I'm not very good. I'm a okay front end designer ish. But in terms of development, I use plugins and CMSs and I made this hokey version of my own delivery system to payments delivered videos and it works. And I proved it worked and then it got hacked a million times. So I got somebody to... Once I knew what I wanted, I hired a developer to build it out and like properly. So it looked good and worked good. And I was just using it for myself. And then one day was like, a few people are like, "Can I use it?" And you're like, "Well no, it doesn't exist really. It's just a big lump of code."
Daniel: And so a few people asked and I sparked the idea of like, "Yeah, it's really good." I could spin this out as... The other people use it the same way I use it. I guess it's not better than the other platforms. It's just my way that I think it should be done. And so yeah, that's how it came to be.
Chris: Is there something that you do with your platform that is one thing that's different or better than the other ones?
Daniel: Yeah, ours is a big chunk of it is the education. Like I'm a teacher, so I guess most of our subscribers are in the, "I need help handholding stage." So a lot of them actually aren't using the platform yet. They're just using the service that you get as part of it. That is that we meet once a week in a webinar and there's a million more people who want to make a course, which is good for the business. And I like showing them how to do it and like do it rights and how to make money from it so that most of the people in our pipe for their business are in that phase.
Daniel: And the other bit is so many other places try to keep your content on their platform. Udemy wants you all on Udemy, Skillshare wants you to be on Skillshare. Teachable wants you to be on Teachable. Whereas, Instructor HQ, we want you to be everywhere. Because I know you're going to make 10 bucks from there, $1 from there, $7 from there, and it's going to add up. And that's what the platform does. It's got a dashboard, connects all that together, makes it easy for people that are new, just to get out and around rather than to try and do well in one place.
Chris: Right. So those are two unique things. One is they get access to use. So you do these weekly calls just to help other teachers teach, right?
Chris: And then the other thing is you accept the fact because you do it yourself, you're going to be on multiple platforms. So why don't we just accept it and not hide around it.
Daniel: Yeah. You're going to earn the least from your own platform. In my experience I don't want to lie to them and say, "Yeah, come to Instructor HQ and this is the only place you need to be." I want to say, "Go to Instructor HQ because you need to own your own place, but your early wins are going to be on other marketplaces, and we'll show you how to get those early wins."
Chris: Why do you think that your own platform is not performing as well as the top two platforms? What do they do differently that you think is driving more sales for you?
Daniel: So they've got an audience. I'm building my audience, like a couple of subscribers on YouTube at a time and that's my main delivery to my place. Whereas, they come prepacked with students. So if you're new and you've got to build your own audience and you don't have one yet, then it's hard work and it takes time and it takes like...
Daniel: I'm at 1500 subscribers now, which is amazing. But the first 100 took a year like that took a long time. Whereas, now they're loads more coming in. Whereas, if you've got a course and you're really set on Skillshare or Udemy today, right now, you will probably have a sale right now today. Whereas, your own platform it takes a lot more time.
Chris: So if people want to check you out on YouTube, your YouTube channel, what is it? Is it BringYourOwnLaptop or is it Daniel Scott?
Daniel: I am /InstructorHQ for the teacher stuff. But if you want to do the Adobe stuff, I am /BringYourOwnLaptop.
Chris: So you've got two YouTube channels?
Daniel: Yeah. That was a big discussion because, I just want to jump on my subscribers, from Bring Your Laptop to start talking about and being an instructor. But I don't know, I had to make decision whether we mix that content up or separate it like, that's what you've done. You guys have got the Academy thing. It must've been a big decision as well because you've got the booming and subscribers on one and you can just instantly start adding value to that. So I battled with that by myself.
Chris: We battled with it and we probably still continue no matter what it's tough. The people who subscribe to one channel don't necessarily want the content from the other channel. And it made it really hard because we cover such broad and diverse topics. We're actually funneling some of the traffic to my own personal channel because there's things I talk about that may not be appropriate for the main channel. So it's all about secondary channels.
Daniel: Three channels, it's a terrible idea.
Chris: I know It's too much work. It's terrible. It's terrible. Who would do that? And there we are-
Daniel: Pay off in the long run. That's the long game video. I think that it is.
Chris: Yeah, something like that. Okay. All right. So tell me about this program that you have called Instructor Bootcamp. What is it and what are you trying to do with it?
Daniel: Basically, it's for people who may be professionals in their field but don't really know how to make an online course. It's simple once but, so I take people through either the video version or the live version. Some people like the meeting once a week sending homework, which I do. And yeah, we just work through the steps and we set little goals every week and we pick a profitable course topic, we run through outlines, we will check it against, I help people review at all. I feel like it's such an amazing time and it's like the wild West at the moment, that's all people need is a little bit of... They might not be earning a million bucks a year. I'm not going to promise that.
Daniel: But I reckon loads of people can be earning a nice little side hustle, put some weekends away, some evenings away and make a course and it may be, if you're only going to make one a year, then it's only going to earn a little bit. But I look at it like, if you went to your boss and said, I want an extra 5K a year or 10K a year, how likely is that to happen? Whereas, if you can put away a bit of time and a bit of effort, it's amazing how much this adds up. You don't have to go full time like me, but I feel like there's lots of people with amazing stuff to share. And I feel like that it's just that time in our lives where people are going to look back and go, "Man, I wish I made a course."
Daniel: And it's hard now and it's hard because it is hard and you should be excited that it's hard because when it's easy, it becomes saturated. Like drop shipping and Amazon or Bitcoin when it's easy, when there's a course to go and do, and there's a million people doing it. And as an automated system, that's when it's saturated and there's no fun and no profit to be made. But at the moment it's hard work. So you should be excited it's hard, but I'll help you as you instruct to bootcamp. And that's that thing.
Chris: That's beautiful. And how did they find out about instructor bootcamp?
Daniel: So go instructorhq.com, there's details on the homepage. So basically if you sign up, you get that as well as the hosting your course. If you've got a course and it's only on one place, it's not doing well, we'll host it for you. But if you're a brand new signup to the bootcamp and I'll help you through.
Chris: Beautiful. We're going to take the conversation to decidedly more rough water's, a little bit controversial. Okay? So I have three things I want to ask you about. The first one is this, is that the dark side of online content is piracy.
Chris: Are you dealing with that? How do you deal with it? How do you feel about it? What's your general attitude and philosophy?
Daniel: So I think my first course I found on a torrent site, I was pretty horrified until I realized as a teenager I was that person on the torrent site. So I can't really, I guess when I had no money, that was the way I did things. And I know from my previous self that it didn't matter if there was an easier way or a cheaper way. I didn't have the money and I wouldn't have gone there. So I feel like there's always going to be that section of people and you can kick and scream about it or accept that there's just going to be a percentage of people that only want to steal music and videos and that's the way that they work.
Daniel: I had a really big impactual thing, somebody stole my contents that I got up on YouTube. There's ways of tricking their algorithm. So it was duplicate, but it started out ranking my video and that video was my biggest bringer inner of people to my site. So like me and Taylor, literally the day it got released, our dues went and half I've got good graphs are just showing it that day it went up, somehow you Tube algorithm went, "All right, this one's bitter and we dropped down." So Subscribers dropped down. And so when it's something like that, then you put the effort and Taylor does most of our copyright striking and that's something we can help you with even if you are not going to sign up with us. Reach out to me on social media and I'll show you.
Daniel: Because there's an easy way to copyright strikes, stuff like if somebody's stolen something, these easy channels to go fill out. And often if it's a hosting platform that's like YouTube is easy one. Anything that's hosted in America, it just gets pulled down. It's really easy, and it takes a bit of time. But you're never going to stop the Torrents. The part bays are going to be around forever, so I don't know. That's my-
Chris: How do you feel about it though? I mean there's the idea that we don't blame the consumer if you can call them that because they want to take something, they can't afford stuff. Maybe when they graduate from that they'll buy your real course. We're all guilty of doing something like that. I'm no Saint here. But what about the person who's... So here's I'm going to add my take on this is that they're so fricking lazy.
Chris: Why don't you just write your own course? Why do you really literally have to steal? It's one thing to steal, but to steal other people's things and sell it. Because there are platforms where they do like an all you can eat and they just give you access to everybody's video content. How do you resolve that in your own mind, as a human being to do that. So how do you feel about it?
Daniel: Yeah. It's weird I don't have any strong feelings about it. I just feel like that's just part of culture in life. There's the goodies, there's the baddies, and we need the baddies so that we know we're the goodies. Without the baddies, how would we know that were doing the good stuff?
Chris: I don't know-
Daniel: So we are going to celebrate the baddies.
Chris: I like your attitude. I don't think I need to get punched in the face and all that. I don't want to be punched in the face. I mean, in my philosophy class we resolved this issue, but okay. All right. I like your attitude about it. You're just like, "Move on. Sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. It's all good." Okay, let's move on to the next thing. There are people that have encouraged to go teach to share what they know. They're actually the gifted artists that we all like, "Well, one day I could be like that." And their general reaction is like, "No, no, no, no. I can't give it away. I don't want to create 1,000 clones of myself." \.
Chris: And so I think they don't realize the true value of their gift and they feel that by becoming more popular to the point in which people will then do things like them, that it diminishes them. It's a scarcity mindset. It's a zero sum game. Somebody wins, I must lose, and they're afraid to give their content away in some paid form because they don't want to make clones. What's your take on that?
Daniel: Yeah, that's a strange one. Well, not a strange one, I feel it's easy in my world because I deliver courses that are not so much art, it's more tools. It's the tools to make art, but I feel like I do, I talk with a lot of instructors who are Illustrators and, or somebody has a really strong style and that is a definitely a more... Because like the students will literally copy their work and then do something and have it in their portfolio. And because they've taught them so well, you can't tell the difference. And I guess that's where you've got to decide with the... You know it in yourself. Are you the person who wants to help? As in over here, somebody at a coffee shop having a problem with their phone. I'm like, "Oh, how can I can help?"
Daniel: Or like I want to jump in and do something and fix it for them. Because they're rolled, and they're fiddling with it and you're like, "It's all right Kevin Hill." Just like that's in me. Whereas as a creative I like doing stuff but I guess I keep it in my own little sphere and I keep it in my bubble and that's fine. So I guess I'm maybe not the right person to ask because I don't have stronger beans because I don't have to deal with much of... People call me my work because it's, I don't know, they're copying my exercises but I don't have a style. Nobody's going, "Oh look, that's a Dan Scott's." There's never that as a designer you have a style, I'm not saying I'm not a designer, but if once you are in that senior world you have a flow and a system and a style and I guess I can see how you'd want to protect that. So if you want to be an educator, I guess you could do it with a slightly crappiest style, then you keep everybody one step behind.
Chris: Yeah, don't give them the best, the latest and greatest. So you're like swinging the pendulum on one side of you're like, Oh piracy, what can you do? I'm moving on. No, sounds like, yeah, you do have a distinct style. Just give them like your crappy stuff. So here's my philosophy on this. Okay. I have a very distinct point of view on this for sure. And you're the excellent, you're the perfect person to answer that because you're neutral about it.
Chris: My feeling is this, is that if you think about chefs, celebrity chefs in particular, the only reason why they're special is because you know them because they're before these shows and the reality competitions, they were just like everybody else, they're just working people. Blue collar just cooks. And then what they do is they get known and they share how they do things. And it's funny, like there's a show called Diner Dives and Drive Ins.
Chris: And Guy Fieri goes around and he goes to these dives and he talks to them about their sauces and how they prepare things. And they're like, "Yeah, and we had three secret ingredients. We can't tell you." He puts his finger in it, it's like, "Nutmeg, cinnamon and whatever." And they're like, "You can tell like there's no secret." So he's telling them you're a little person in a small pond. It's okay. Now nobody knows who you are, but they know who he is. And so I think designers, creatives, and illustrators need to just get over this idea. You are hurting yourself more by keeping what you do a secret.
Chris: And if you truly define yourself as the technique, then you really don't have much to offer the world. If you're that paranoid that somebody knows how to draw the crosshatching the same way you do, well you don't have much to work with. Because imagine if Picasso was like, "This is how I draw. I'm not going to tell you what tool I use and that's special.
Daniel: I may or may not be using a brush.
Chris: Right? And they're not paying you for the marks that you make. They're paying you for you, for the experience to know that it was from you.
Daniel: We all did it, right? At school if you're a designer and you went that route, we all copied. That's how we all got good, right? We're like, "I like that style, and I'm not going to copy it, but I'm going to do something very close." And eventually you find your style and people do ask, like me, they're like, "Well, how how do you magic the stuff out of the air?" And I'm like, "It doesn't come out of the air. It comes out of things that I've done in the past that have gone well versus things that have gone badly."
Daniel: So it doesn't come out of the air. It's just the way an interior designer can walk into our room is the same as the way a graphic designer can just make stuff up. You know? It's suffering that's just get good at. And I guess we all learned from other people by looking and actually sometimes like appropriation was a great class I had at a university. What was literally copying and then somehow changing it a certain way. But appropriation is what we know and we take it and we move it on a little bit as designers. So I'm not sure if there's any sort of secret that anyone's really has.
Chris: There is no secret. If there's a secret, you're defining yourself on a source and when the source goes away, what happens to you when the world discovers how to do what you do? Or you just send a rack, a shallow, a version of yourself? Like-
Daniel: The cats on the bag with YouTube anyway. Like there's so many ways that like if you were going to be a commercial designer, then you see stuff and then people will show you how to do it. Like backwards engineer, right? People like me.
Chris: Yeah. See, we all learn through imitation. That's how we learn language, that's how we learn to walk, that's how we learn to make stuff. And I don't even go and beat around the bush. Appropriation sounds like a fancy way of saying stealing. Picasso would say, "It's good artists borrow, great artists steal." And he's a great artist. So just steal guys, learn, share it, get over it, profit from your ideas. Become a superstar in the world of illustrators, designers, puppeteers, whatever it is, just share stuff. There's so much more good. But okay, I'm done with that. Last topic. Last question for you. You're really a nice guy, so I'm going to-
Daniel: Thank you.
Chris: I'm going to force you to say something different, you know. Well this is debatable but okay. Guess what, here's the question. What do your critics say about Dan Scott?
Daniel: My critics say I, especially with online training, I guess I try and I assume it's too easy. I make it feel too easy and when it comes to software that's fine because that's the whole part of it. Like, "Hey, this is super easy and it's going to be step-by-step," where... And you can learn how to mask a person in a little while. It only takes a little amount of effort to learn how to mask somebody really well. But in terms of making a course is not that easy. There is hard work. There's the depth, there is the imposter syndrome to deal with.
Daniel: There's a lot more to it. And I'm like, "Okay, come make a course and it's super easy to make 1 million bucks." That would be where I get hints from people. People aren't that hardcore, made me, they're really nice to me, but it's dugged in the sometimes of the... I get the sense of it that I'm being too flippant with some things that are really hard, that aren't hard for me now. So that'd be it's not as easy as learning how to use Photoshop, but it is amazingly rewarding. And yeah, I maybe try and make it feel too easy when it can be a little bit tough.
Chris: Okay. Feels great.
Daniel: Half started a course or I've got a course idea for the last three years. Those people know that it's hard because even getting started is hard.
Chris: It's hard. Okay? You give people very little to be angry about, you really do. So I'm going to just go there right now. Sometimes you make something and you think, "How can anybody find this to be bad?" And you're just trying to teach the world, right? You're not even saying that, "I'm the best artist, I'm the best teacher." You're just trying to help. It comes from a very genuine place. But I find that even then the internet is full of people who have spite and hate in their heart.
Chris: They watch one of your videos, the trolls, they come out. What's it like a crazy comment a troll set on one of your videos, either on social media, on YouTube or something like that?
Daniel: One PG ones, man. Like-
Chris: Yes PG please.
Daniel: PG ones. Like the accent normally is the biggest problem for people and they'll be quite mean about my accent. I speak fast. I'm a hairy dude, so teen Wolf, two bucker. You're in all the wrong places. It's growing into my ears but not out of my fringe. My fringe dissipated in my twenties. So and that one cuts deep. I'm like, "Oh Chewbacca, that's low." I prefer space beer.
Chris: Okay. I don't know how else to end it with. But I think that's a good way to end it.
Daniel: With a laugh, it's good.
Chris: Yes. Daniel, thank you very much for coming on the show. I really enjoyed having a conversation with and also for producing two amazing tutorials on our channel. If you guys haven't done that, go check it out on The Futur Academy site. It did an awesome one on Illustrator, it's tracking really well. Last time I checked, it was already over 100,000 views. Hopefully I'm not lying about that. The Photoshop one, maybe there's just so much competition for Photoshop.
Daniel: I thought that would do better than the Illustrator one-
Chris: Me too. I thought so too.
Chris: But I say, you know what? I'm not in a rush. Give it time. It's going to grow. Our audience is going to grow. And let's go all the way-
Daniel: Let's do an InDesign one.
Chris: Okay, go where there's no competition.
Daniel: Designer trinity.
Chris: Yes, yes, yes. You're right. You're right. Okay. Where can people find you? How can they get more of you?
Daniel: For any sort of core stuff? If you like, if you're a hardcore designer and you want to get better at Illustrator, or Photoshop, check out, bringyourownlaptop.com. If you are studying to be, you're like, "Hey, I've got this great idea being and I know, make an online course." Email me at, firstname.lastname@example.org or instructorhq.com on all the socials.
Daniel: Or if you want to look, go check out our YouTube channel for Instructor HQ. There's lots of good free stuff up there to get you started. Or if you're really hardcore, join the bootcamp Instructor bootcamp, but that's paid. So-
Chris: Instructors bootcamp.
Daniel: You might be keen.
Chris: How much is that, by the way?
Daniel: 9.95 a month at the moment.
Chris: Very affordable thing. You're just like high value, man. Good job.
Chris: Well, I always feel great when I speak to somebody who shares a similar spirit and it's just very reaffirming for me. You're an instructor, you get a lot of joy from teaching. I thought that was one of the things that people were going to say about you. Because they say that about me all the time. It's like, "Why are you teaching us? Why are you giving this away?" There's an ulterior motive and a Monty you Chris. A Monty.
Daniel: Yeah. That's a valid point in my head as well. I'm like, "I'm not sure." I'm getting paid for the other stuff, but then I'm kind of, the Instructor HQ stuff, it's inevitable. I like doing it. I don't know. What's your excuse? I just, I enjoy it and it pays me.
Chris: It's good to help people.
Chris: It's good to help people. It feels that helping people it's its own reward.
Chris: Like once you don't have to fight to pay for rent and food and clothing…
Daniel: To be honest it was easier to talk about this when it was wasn't doing so well, it was easier to talk about doing it for the love of it. I feel like it's harder now that it's earning 100K a month because, man, like when I hear people saying that, I'm like, "Yeah you're doing it for that." I was doing before that but I find it harder for me to stand up and say, "Yeah I'm doing this and it's ending this little bit." I thought I was proud of then, because then I can say I'm doing it because it was paying me an income but now it's paying me a stupid income. I feel like it's harder to point that out.
Daniel: If anybody's keen on seeing what I'm earning from what place, because they're like, where to go? Check out instructorhq.com/theship. I share all my financials of where I'm from, all the different courses you can go check that out as well if you want to see where it's coming from.
Chris: Yes. Daniel literally shares how he makes money and you can see it. He shared-
Daniel: You can copy it. There's going to be lots of designers out there going like, “I can make a course better than that guy.”
Chris: Yes, you're welcome to try and you'll find out it's a little bit more difficult than you think. Building an audience is tough too.
Daniel: Yeah. My name is Daniel Scott and you are listening to the Futur.