My Own Brand vs. Third Party Platforms

Own Brand

I think it’s time I provided an overview of what I want to achieve with my Your Digital Ally business. The main take-away here is the importance of having your own brand.

In the first article in this series, I explained how I was setting up a business to create and sell training courses online in the area of digital technology.

I was inspired to do this by a number of success stories of people who had created some courses on the Udemy portal and were doing quite well from the residual income that it generated. This seemed like an attractive option because I didn’t need a website, and I didn’t need to generate traffic and customers. Udemy would do that – apparently.

But it wasn’t long before more in-depth research of this model revealed that my initial impressions were quite false.

Successful vendors have their own brand

What I quickly discovered was that the really successes people ALSO had courses on other platforms – such as Skillshare. And more importantly, they also

  • Sold courses on their own website
  • Sent their OWN traffic to Udemy etc.
  • Built a list of customers to whom they could sell new courses, and, in amongst all this
  • Had their own brand

In fact, this is a general principle for anyone who plans to make use of large third party platforms that help with promotion and sales.

For example, I know sellers on Amazon with multiple products who advise people to start with Amazon, but then transition to selling off their own website as well. Their goal is to build a strong, multi-product brand and then sell the brand/business for many $millions.

I also know a highly successful eBay seller who is so successful, he’s hit the eBay “glass ceiling”.

Whatever he does with his business, he finds that he cannot increase his revenues on eBay any further. It seems as though eBay puts a cap on the amount that any one vendor can earn – although of course this is not official policy and is not stated anywhere. (He was invited by eBay to a special “top-sellers only” event, but no-one would admit to this policy.)

The principle is this: you don’t want the existence of your business to be dependent on the changeable rules and regulations of an impersonal behemoth who would neither know nor care if you were to go out of business.

So, whatever third-party sales platform you may decide to hook onto – Amazon, eBay, Udemy, Skillshare etc. etc. – (if any), you should also always have your own website and build your own brand.

It was fairly clear, then, that I would need to expand the scope of my business model to include creating own brand and website, creating a traffic plan etc. That was all fine because all those activities were topics I could potentially create courses about.

The question was – when to create my own site?

Own brand first, or later?

One option would have been to immediately create some courses on Udemy so that I would quickly have something to sell and I would gain early experience of the platform. I would then create my brand after establishing an initial presence on Udemy and Skillshare.

This seems to be the route that a lot of Udemy sellers have taken.

However, I decided to take the opposite approach and build my website and brand first. There were three reasons for this:

My reasons for building my website and own brand first.

Firstly, it means that when I DO start putting courses up on Udemy, etc, I will immediately be able to promote my brand to the students who enroll on those courses.

Secondly, it means I can immediately put a traffic generation system in place.

As I said above, I learnt from my early research that successful sellers drive their own traffic to their courses – even on Udemy. This told me that – as with most online businesses, I was going to need my own effective traffic generation system as the engine driving the whole business.

No shortcuts here!

And finally, of course, once I have a site up which is attracting traffic, I can start building a list. And as we all know, the most valuable asset you can create in online marketing is a mailing list.

So that gives you some idea of what my end game is.

In summary, my roadmap is:

  1. Website
  2. Traffic
  3. Listbuilding
  4. Course development

And right now, I’m still primarily at step 1 – itching to get to 2 and 3!

In the following posts I will talk more about this roadmap, the tools and systems I’m using – and why.

Alex Goodall

4 thoughts on “My Own Brand vs. Third Party Platforms”

  1. Having your own brand is essential. But what exactly does “Your Digital Ally” represent? What exactly are the “hot buttons” of your target market (micro enterprises, professional employees, and business opportunists)?

    Your original post implies you’re offering greater technological efficiency and promotional methods in general. That sounds like a very general USP. In the eyes of your market, would they be more responsive to “greater efficiency” or to “more leads within 30 days”? In other words, is it clear what are the questions and conversations that are occurring inside the heads of the target market?

    Some marketers put up a 1-page website and test their concept or USP with paid traffic before investing the time and money to pursue a project any further. If the traffic does not respond well, the concept/USP is changed and tested, or the project terminated.

    Some marketers also advocate narrowing the focus of the site, either in terms of subject matter, USP, or target market. Presumably better conversions are more likely because it appears you are speaking specifically to a very definite set of the population, and not trying to be all things to all people.

    You know what the market “needs”. But is that what they “want”? It’s not clear whether this question has been answered.

    Meanwhile, carry on. 🙂 Great job so far!

    1. Hi Bill

      You make some excellent points, which anyone planning to set up a business with something original or unusual should take note of.

      With Your Digital Ally, however, I don’t plan on doing anything unusual. I KNOW there is a market for training on digital technologies because there is plenty of competition which, as far as I can judge, is doing pretty well.

      Specifically, I have a compiled a detailed inventory of the courses and categories on Udemy that are within what I define as my “space”. From this, I can get a good sense for what is the market wants (i.e. what they will pay for) from the popularity of the various subjects.

      So – I would claim that I don’t need to test the market in the way you suggest.

      Also, I have a small, but growing, list of subscribers – and I plan to get feedback from them (which includes you!) to help me plan the priorities for my course development.

      Do keep the challenges coming!



  2. Hi Alex,

    Very thought provoking. I am in the process of this decision as I build my social media connections… I decided as long as I have other issues to contend with, then I will keep on this track… BUT I have given myself a deadline of Sept. 1. At that point I will build my web page and start building my LIST.

    Working for yourself is not work… it is an adventure.

    Take care, Phil

    1. Hi Phil

      That’s a great attitude “Working for yourself is not work … it is an adventure”.

      But I would say it’s not a case of either/or. It’s BOTH. Any worthwhile adventure involves a great deal of trudging along for long periods!

      I was going to write more, but what I was going to write about is a topic that I’d planned to include as a blog post. And since writing another blog post is my very next task – that’s helped me decide on what I’ll write!



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