Part 5: What do people want to learn?

Welcome to a multi-part series on creating my first online course. Check out Part 4 on de-risking with an MVP.

When you blog for a living, you’re constantly swimming in an ocean of noise. With every written post, glib tweet, and sent newsletter comes a surfeit of analysis about clickers, forwarders, and then the occasional angry question asker. The feedback loops are tight and quick, but does that inform how to pick your next side project?

As I prepare to launch my first online course, one of my biggest questions (and insecurities) is if loyal RadReaders will open their wallets. Sending your Wall Street friends a post on The Number and punching in your credit card are two very different things. Here are the steps I took to anticipate what topics RadReaders truly wanted to learn about.

Specialization versus general knowledge?

The Internet is a place of pragmatism, especially when you take out your credit card. Whether it’s an annual subscription to Stratechery or courses on niche topics like Mailchimp or Evernote, my hunch has always been that consumers want specialized knowledge that they can apply immediately. And as a bonus, that knowledge can help them better line their pockets with a new skill.

On the other hand, there are general courses – think of the Liberal Arts – where you’re improving your eruditeness or learning the tools to build a (metaphorically) richer life. Two classes (ironically both at liberal arts colleges) come to mind: Laurie Santos’ The Science of Well-Being at Yale and Barbara Oakley’s Learning How to Learn at UCSD. Who doesn’t want a digital injection of real life wisdom?

My gut confirmed to me that I wasn’t of the caliber to do such a theoretical course, but I didn’t want to start on something so narrow that I might bore me over time. I was paralyzed with indecision.

Does it spark joy?

Early into my days of solopreneurship I made myself a promise. I’d try my hardest to be guided by joy and work on things that made me happy. That doesn’t mean that I think this line of work will be smooth sailing, but it does put some agency back into my decision to work for myself: I want to opt-in and out of things based on my family’s preferences (and not others’ expectations of me, which can fuel runaway ambition). Said differently, I’m not always going to pursue the most profitable path.

So I sat with my coach and we tried to find a good compromise between the two. Together, we identified five possible topic areas:


  • Productivity
  • Networking
  • Personal Finance
  • Investing
  • Psychology of Money


They’re ranked loosely from highly specialized (productivity) to general (psychology of money). We then added three numerical categories:


  • Degree of difficulty (low number = more difficult)
  • Level of excitement
  • Total points

Show me the results!

Investing 101 was ranked lowest from both excitement and difficulty. The latter was because it would require me brushing up on some technical concepts that were kind of dated.

Next were Personal Finance, Omnifocus and Networking. They both felt like they had broader appeal, but the excitement was dampened by the topics being a bit too tactical.

That left The Psychology of Money as the winner! This wasn’t surprising as it anchors my coaching practice and covers some of my most popular topics. But alas, it’s also the most abstract – which could be problematic for the reasons stated above.

The alarm clock test

The abstract nature of The Psychology of Money failed one of my coach’s simple tests: When you wake up in the morning, does [Topic X] come to mind? Very few folks wake up and ask themselves: Wow, I really need to improve my psychology of money. And that instinct is what drives many purchase decisions.

Together, we wondered if we could combine it with a topic that was zeitgeisty. And alas, the Financial Independence, Retire Early movement (aka FIRE) immediately came to mind. But I’m not a FIRE devotee and think that some of its core principles actually miss the point about what it means to live a rich life.

And alas, was born the (semi-contradictory) title: The Fulfilling Path to Financial Independence and centered around my core belief that the benefits of financial independence could be achieved without having vast sums of money.

The jury’s still out

Admittedly, this was a risky strategy. It wouldn’t been much easier to do a course on productivity – but this was a gamble worth taking. Not only did it spark joy, but it was at it’s core the product I wanted to see in the world.

Join us on May 2nd for our digital workshop: The Fulfilling Path to Financial Independence, which includes:


  • A two hour live virtual workshop on Financial Independence (with full replay access)
  • A live Q&A with Khe Hy with ability to submit questions in advance
  • activation templates to start planning your path to Fulfilled Financial Independence
  • Lifetime access to the curriculum and modules
  • Private invitation to the Financial Independence Slack Channel
  • Discounts on all upcoming courses and workshops


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