If this is the first you’re hearing about this, I’m sharing an unfiltered behind-the-scenes look at how I’m building my next online business. Get caught up on previous updates here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.
What’s in a name anyway?
Gerlando (my co-founder) and I never really loved the name “CreateYourOnlineCourse.” While descriptive to what we’re building, it’s not super sexy or memorable. Plus, it’s not really unique either. A few weeks ago we started a Basecamp message and dropped in different ideas for a new name.
The names I came up with (while making sure the corresponding domains were available*) were: Yoursery, Coursection, ReallySimpleCourses, CourseBuild, IsLearnable, and a few awful names I’m ashamed to share. Ugh, I said unfiltered, so here are the terrible names: VeryFalcon, Fivete, ZebraCourses, SendAdvice, and my personal favorite (still) – Flimdazzle.
None of those grabbed us by our haunches and said “YES!” So we kind of tabled the discussion and I let me brain stew on it.
A few days later as I was driving down one of my favorite roads (everyone has a favorite road to drive on with the windows down right?). I was trying to enlist my awesome girlfriend Caroline to brainstorm names with me.
Name after name, nothing really stood out. She would blurt out a name and then we’d check to see if the domain was available. After about 20 names I felt a small lightning storm happen inside my brain.
“What about Teachery?” I said.
“That’s the best name I’ve ever heard!!!” Caroline yelled. (Okay, to be honest, she didn’t yell anything, but she acknowledged it was better than Flimdazzle.)
“Can you check if the .com is available?” I asked, my hair blowing in the Florida afternoon wind.
A couple moments passed…. “Ugh, nope.” Caroline muttered**.
“Hmmm… what about .co?” I questioned.
“Yep, oh, and the .club is also available…” Caroline sarcastically joked. (Seriously, who buys .club domains??)
While it’s not as common or as memorable as .com, the audience we’re trying to reach with this business should be tech-savvy enough to remember a .co URL***. Once I convinced myself of this, I sent a text to Gerlando. Within a few minutes he had written back saying “I like it!” I replied “Let’s do it!” and we were off to the races to buy the domain and change all occurrences of CreateYourOnlineCourse to Teachery.
*Note #1: While they didn’t provide our new awesome domain name, the sites NameMesh.com and Wordoid.com were helpful in getting my brain moving with new names. Give ’em a shot if you’re struggling to find a name for your next business.
**Note #2: Later on I contacted the owner of Teachery.com (finding his info via Whois) and offered to buy the domain for $100. He replied fairly quickly and said he wasn’t interested in selling. Dang it. Oh well, I tried.
***Note #3: I also think if you build a great product or service, it doesn’t matter what you name it or what URL you have. We’ll see if this holds true for my first project with a .co URL.
Uservoice and our first group of beta users!
For a few weeks we’ve been wanting to let 10 people signup for Teachery (formerly CYOC). There were a bunch of bugs and outstanding features that weren’t quite ready yet. You know, like the feature of actually being able to let people signup on their own, without manually adding their email and info to our user database.
Gerlando did a kickass job of quickly building our user signup/subscription form. The other thing he added to Teachery was a little product called UserVoice. While we might not use it long term, it’s perfect for getting usability feedback and finding errors/bugs from our initial users (while the handy option of taking a screenshot of the current page they’re having issues with).
I actually used UserVoice a few times while creating a course of my own. It’s so much easier than taking screenshots and emailing or submitting them to Basecamp. Just click the little “?” button, type in the issue, check the screenshot box, and hit send.
With our subscription form ready, UserVoice installed, and our fingers and toes crossed that we’d built a decent enough product for people to use, we crafted our first email to the Teachery pre-launch list. In the email we said we were only letting in 10 users and we hoped they’d be active, willing to help us squash virtual bugs, and okay with getting to use Teachery for free for a year (not including transaction fees).
That email went out to 66 people and within minutes we had multiple responses. Yay! Then I started to read those emails… Booo…
- “Jason, I can’t get in, there’s an error?”
- “Hey guys, tried to sign up and got this error message…”
- “I tried to sign up, but got this error.”
Crap! The link we sent in the email was wrong and didn’t work. Oh, the joys of launching things!
Gerlando quickly scrambled to check the error logs and found the issue. In a matter of minutes he made a new working link and emailed all the people who tried to sign up. Crisis averted, but a good lesson here: Things will ALWAYS go wrong, be prepared to deal with bumps in the road.
After a rocky start, the beta user spots were full and we had our first users. Because this just happened last Friday, I don’t have much of an update on user feedback yet. I’ll include that in the next update.
It’s Teachery branding time!
For the last part of this week’s update I wanted to share where we’re headed with the Teachery branding. I’m fortunate to live with a super talented creative, you may have seen her name in the footer of JasonDoesStuff.com (Made Vibrant). So I talked Caroline into using her skill set to produce a logo and look and feel for Teachery (read: branding).
It started with discussion the brand and elements that went along with it. As you can see, the sketching process didn’t go too deep as we both agreed the idea of combining an apple (an icon for teachers/teaching) with a gear (an icon for building/machinery). These initial sketches were done while discussing who the target audience was for Teachery. Truthfully Caroline’s process is much more in-depth than this, but I like to circumvent processes as much as possible!
Because Caroline is ridiculously talented, within a short period of time she had a few logo comps to share. Using a few different fonts and font styles as well as a few variations of the apple + gear, I had a few choices.
There wasn’t a bad logo to choose from. We discussed a few minor details and we both agreed on our favorite. Oh, and the font she chose for the logo was only $47. Not too shabby.
It’s a pleasure to introduce the official Teachery logo! It feels simple but also sophisticated at the same time. I love that the icon is recognizable and accomplishes our goal of showcasing teaching and building.
Teachery is LIVE!
Since writing these behind the scenes articles, Teachery has launched!