how we iterate and collaborate with creators at egghead

Over the years egghead has evolved from my good friend John Lindquist making the goto screencasts on Angular.js into a platform for technical content creators to produce and publish high-quality courses for a broad audience of web developers.

When we first started, things were simple 😅

Over time, the core aspects of what we do as a business has shifted. We serve both instructors and learners as clients. Both of these groups of folks have different needs and desired outcomes, which layers complexity and lends itself into a slow slide towards entropy.

Something I've never had any desire to replicate is the DIY cookie-cutter "course platform" you see with sites like Teachable and Podia. They are fine sites enabling loads of creators to make decent content in very specific ways. It'd probably actually be easier, and "better business" if egghead took a more platform approach, and less of a hands on collaborative effort.

But, that's not us!

Over the past few years we've been working on a partnership level business model that I lovingly coined as Wes Bos as a Service (WBaaS).

It's kind of cheeky, hopefully obviously, but what I absolutely love about what Wes does is that all of his courses are very high quality, unique experiences. They aren't cookie-cutter. They have a bespoke feel and deliver a high quality effective learning experience.

Every one of them!

If you've spent time on Teachable and Podia or other DIY "learning content platforms" you probably know that consistency in quality is not universal.

The vast moajority of even expensive high-end courses on the platforms don't even bother to fucking provide transcripts and sub-titles.

As a business, we at egghead want to make nice things that help people achieve their goals in life.

We want to help software developers climb the engineering ladder.

That might mean learning the fundamentals of JavaScript or the latest and greatest changes in React or Svelte or maybe getting that AWS cert to level up and get a big ass raise by moving to a new position and negotiating your salary.

And beyond the technical skills that you need, egghead as a platform enables web developers to teach everything they know with a trusted production partner that has their back and takes care of the 1000s of details like a good platform should.

Beyond the software platform, egghead is a group of human experts that have produced hundreds of courses over almost a decade.

It gets interesting when an instructor outgrows what can provide. The "shared pool" royalty model has fairly severe limits in terms of the financial upside. It's not "quit your job and do this full time" money like Wes Bos enjoys.

For that, we offer another tier of service for trusted partners that we've collaborated with for years.

You can see the fruits of one of those relationships with Epic React by Kent C. Dodds.

Epic React is an amazing effort. The product of a half-decade relationship and three years of focused work on the product. It's extremely high-quality, unique, and consistent. It's world class.

I'm extremely proud of the work that we've put into this and the level of trust Kent has placed in me and my team to represent his work and present it in the best light.

With over 8000 licenses sold, Epic React is life changing for Kent. He doesn't need to worry if "the whole teaching thing" will work out. It definitely has.

This is the kind of home run success that people notice, and makes people think "oh ya, I want some of that!"

It's tricky though, we aren't a service company for hire. We aren't here to follow marching orders and produce courses to anybody's specifications. We are here to work as trusted partners in the long game of creating sustainable, viable, businesses with creators.

So how do we get there with individuals and take our collaboration to the next level of partnership?

Course Collaboration Levels

To help egghead instructors and the team understand, we sat down and defined what the levels of collaboration are, and the general sequence that we take to apply our very scarce resources to these projects.

The Basic Course

This is a high-quality, but relativelty low collaboration effort primarily driven by the content creator in the spirit of JFDI.

Often an instructor wants to jam out something cool and share it over a weekend.

Fuck ya. We love to see it, and often these can be upgraded to a Utility or Feature.

Sometimes it's fine to just have a basic course.

These might get illustration/design support.

The Utility Course

A high quality course with moderate collaboration. These courses are "meat and potatoes" and tend to be evergreen prerequisites. Exceptional utility courses can be upgraded!

Usually the instructor has an idea and presents it to us. There might be some light instructional design.

A utility course will usually have a simple high-quality illustration, copywriting, and some marketing hype.

The Feature Course

A very high quality course with full instructional design collaboration, visual design, and extras. This is a "must watch" course for a particular topic.

We go all in on a feature from a design perspective. This includes instructional design and visual design.

A feature will have a budget, schedule, supporting materials, marketing and the full attention of our production staff.

The Epic Course

This is a cornerstone of the egghead catalog. Take a feature level course and then get ambitious as fuck. Custom courseware. Significant budget. Outside collaborators.

The Partner Course

Significant scope with full partner level collaboration. Generally a micro-site driven product.

A true WBaaS experience. We are limited only by our imaginations.

  • Instructional Design
  • Visual Design
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Full production support
  • Project Management
  • End-user support
  • E-commerce (purchase power parity, shopping cart, delivery)
  • Strategy

Partner level courses are the results of years of trust building and collaboration.

This is a small business of its own that we are building together. 👯

Usually if we are at the partner level we will have a handful of courses at the other levels that got us to this point!

It makes me smile when I see it.

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Joel Hooks © 2022