Course Lab: Lessons from Successful Online Course Creators
Natural Weight Loss to Achieve Sustainable Results (ft. Jill Cruz)
July 30, 2021
Weight loss is one of the most saturated niches, yet online course creator Jill Cruz has created a very successful high-ticket course. How exactly has she done that? Danny and Abe take a closer look at her course “Work With Your Nature Weight Loss” and share her most efficient strategies.
Episode summary: Is it really possible to create a hugely successful course in a highly saturated niche? Turns out, it IS possible, and Jill Cruz is living proof of it. As a weight loss coach and Board-Certified Nutrition Specialist, Jill is in one of the most saturated niches around, and yet she’s managed to create an extremely popular high-ticket course that helps people to improve their nutrition, lose weight, and boost their overall well-being. 

In this episode, Course Lab hosts Danny Iny and Abe Crystal take a closer look at her course “Work With Your Nature Weight Loss.” The six-month program/course teaches women how to lose weight in a sustainable and enjoyable way without feeling deprived - and keep it off for the long term. They also discuss Jill’s approach to creating a popular course that stands out from all the others in your niche, and share her efficient strategies for success.

In this episode we discuss:

“I want to sell them into the course, but only if it's the right course for them. If it's the right program for them.” – Jill Cruz

Guest bio:
Jill Cruz, MS, CNS helps women over 40 that hate dieting to lose weight and feel great without being deprived. Jill has a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and is a Board Certified Nutrition Specialist. Jill combines her strong science-based background with tons of practical nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle guidance, helping people strive to be the best versions of themselves. She is on a mission to guide women to achieve their wildest dreams for their health while loving the food they eat and the life they live. Check her out on

Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:

Guest - Jill Cruz
Hosts - Danny Iny & Abe Crystal 

Producer - Cynthia Lamb 
Executive producer - Danny Iny
Writer - Michi Lantz and Cynthia Lamb 
Assembled by - Geoff Govertsen
Audio Post Supervisor: Evan Miles, Christopher Martin
Audio Post Production by Post Office Sound
Music soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely

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Music and SFX credits:

Track Title: Access
Artist Name(s): OBOY
Writer Name: Martin Hampton
Writer Name: Matej Djajkovski

Track Title: Bossa BB
Artist Name(s): Marie
Writer Name: Chelsea McGough

Track Title: Carousel Lights
Artist Name(s): Chelsea McGough
Writer Name: Chelsea McGough
Writer Name: Matthew Wigton

Track Title: Grace
Artist Name(s): Shimmer
Writer Name: Matthew Wigton

Episode transcript: Natural Weight Loss to Achieve Sustainable Results (ft. Jill Cruz)

[00:00:00] : Mirasee. 

See when you're kind of touching base a little bit every day, the client feels really, really held and there's a high level of accountability, but the time spent by the nutritionist is minimal. Yeah. Hello and welcome to course Lab. The show. The teachers, course creators like you how to make better online courses. I'm Danny any the founder and Ceo here at morrissey and I'm here with my co host, Abe Crystal, the co founder of Results. You in each episode of this show, we really showcase a course and course creator who is doing something really interesting with their course. Our guest today is Jill Cruz Jill is a board certified nutrition specialist. She coaches women to lose weight in a sustainable and enjoyable way without feeling deprived. Jill, Welcome to course, lap Hi Danny, Thank you so much for having me so Jill. You and I have known each other for a very long time, but for the benefit of everyone who hasn't had that pleasure, who are you? What do you do? How did you come to be doing it? Give us the whole story. Okay, so right now, I am a nutritionist, a board certified nutritionist and I work with women over 40 who are looking to lose weight, they're sick of yo yo dieting and they're looking for a sustainable, healthy, dare I say, even pleasurable way to continue on their weight loss journey. So, my background is I worked for about eight years as a functional medicine nutritionist in a very interesting practice where we had a lot of very complex cases. The thing is that I actually went to nutrition school to help what I really wanted to do was help people lose weight. And somehow I found myself working in a practice helping people who had Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and a lot of really complicated neurological conditions, it wasn't really what I wanted to do, but I was learning a lot. And the thing was that I myself had an issue with eating. I actually had a 15 year long nighttime eating addiction. So throughout those years that I was working with people with chronic illness, I felt like it was disingenuous for me to start to go out and try to help people lose weight when I myself had this nighttime eating habit. So, uh as the years went on and I learned all of these wonderful things, I figured out how to get rid of my own eating habit, the bad eating disorder, then I was finally able to kind of branch out away from this functional medicine practice and into my own practice. I guess the whole point was that I had to feel comfortable being able to help people with their nighttime or daytime eating habits. I had to feel comfortable with it myself first. And the course was really what broke the ground for me in that I was the whole course, It was called food boss actually, and it was all about how to build new habits and break those cravings and all of the stuff that I had to do for myself. And has the course been exactly the same since the very beginning, when you imagined it in 2018? Or has it evolved over the last several years? It has definitely evolved. The great thing was that I was successful with that first iteration, my pilot, which was an eight week course where I would meet weekly with the group and you know, we would meet as a group and they would have homework and there was no one on one interaction, it was all group based and after that first iteration and I was very happy because I was able to fill that course the first time around, which was like, oh, okay, I can do this. But then I proceeded to iterate it. I don't know, I want to say maybe 678 times over the years. So it definitely has morphed. And what it is now, the big transition was that I realized that I couldn't really help people successfully lose weight. The course was eight weeks and it just wasn't enough time. So once I figured that out, I really, really made some big changes. So what does the course look like today? It is actually a six month course. Yeah, if you can believe it, I was a little bit nervous about having such a long course, wondering if people would be able to commit to such a time frame, but it seems to be just the right amount of time actually. So the content that was in the original food boss program that was eight weeks, I took all of that content and I kind of stretched it out because it was just too much information in in not enough time. So I didn't really have to add a whole lot of content. I just kind of took what I was doing and said, all right, I think people need more time to adopt these habits and to implement these changes. So now I have all of that content on a particular platform and clients are asked to go in every week. There are modules and They watch a couple of videos, maybe about 5-15 minutes worth of videos and then they meet with a coach once a week. So there's no group work, there's only one on one work with the coach or nutritionist and that and that person is not me right now, I actually have to nutritionists who worked for me who deliver the content. So tell us about how you were able to make that work, that that step of providing one on one support, but not having it, you being the person providing that support. That's a big hurdle for a lot of course creators. So what are the qualifications of the people that you needed in order to do this? How do you structure the work relationships with them? How do you, how do you make the math work with the whole course? Um talks through all that. So the first thing I want to say about it is that I I think this is really interesting for any buddy who's doing coaching or feels like they have the solutions to big problems is that I realized that I had a process, I had created a process between my one on one work with my clients who are not in the course and all of the content that I had stuffed into those eight weeks that I had developed a process, a journey that I could take people on. So the cool thing about having all of that content in a six month program is that I know the process that people need to go through in order to lose way in a healthy, sustainable way, at least at least as far as I'm concerned, how one should do it and there's a lot of flexibility built into it. I just felt like these are really important things that anybody on their weight loss journey should know this. And so I created a journey in the course that now I don't want to say anybody could deliver it in terms of the coaching, but I do higher board certified nutritionist like me and I usually, the people who have worked for me have always been kind of newer to the field. The coach has to have a certain amount of knowledge, has to be personal, has to understand how to coach, but as long as they take the client through this pre you know, this sort of prescribed journey, they will be successful. So, you know, that makes it a little bit, you know better in terms of what it costs me to pay them and deliver the cost and deliver the course. It's a little bit more affordable because I'm not hiring well seasoned nutritionists, they're relatively new. So that kind of helps in terms of the cost for me, I find people through my network and they have to be good and they have to be smart and dedicated and passionate. But as long as they follow the content, the people do reach the results that they're looking for. And if you look at the total price of the course, how much of that revenue do you allocate to paying for that cost of fulfillment with the coaches? Yeah. So right now I charge if a person pays them full for the six months, it's $2400. If they pay monthly, it's $500 a month. So if we go by the paid in full cost, which is $2,400, I pay the nutritionist $800 for her work And the work is pretty simple. She spends 30 minutes a week with the client one on one and then she also has to monitor their food diary. And you know, how do you coach people who need a lot of accountability without spending a lot of time as a coach? That was like a big question that I had and so building in all of the content on the program and then also the coach Is monitoring. So it takes her probably 2-3 minutes a day to go and look at the person's diary and then she may make some comments right there on the food diary. She may also send audio. Like I recommend doing a little audio because sometimes or we'll do loom videos. So sometimes it takes you 15 minutes to create an email that you could spend, you know, do a one minute audio, right? So I encourage them to go on to the to the platform where the client is entering their diet and make comments pretty much on a daily basis. Or sometimes that's in the form of a loom video or an audio. But the point is that when you're kind of touching base a little bit every day, the client feels really, really held and there's a high level of accountability, but the time spent by the nutritionist is minimal. So that way I'm able to say to my nutritionist, look, this is going to be about 2.5 hours a month of work for you or three hours max. So it keeps my costs down in terms of paying the coach. So, I mean, it sounds like a really powerful and supportive structure. What are the challenges you've encountered or problems you've had to solve along the way? Like where have you found participants getting, you know, stuck or being additional support? Or what were the things that you tried early on that that you had to change your improvement over time? Well, definitely in the beginning, I underestimated the amount of time that the nutritionist would spend offline. So, you know, in the beginning they were commuting through email and I found, well why why are we going onto another platform? Let's communicate via the Diet app. And instead of writing out these long messages, let's just record a loom, video or audio and and cut your time, it seems to be working. It seems to be very efficient now. So that was definitely a little bit of a hurdle. Sometimes clients are complicated. So this is another piece too, which is interesting the because it's a little bit more of a high ticket item in order for a client to sign up for this program, they have to spend time on a call with me, so I'm the gatekeeper, so to speak. I'm interviewing them, they're interviewing me. Of course I want to sell them into the course, but only if it's the right course for them, if it's the right program for them. We're trying to keep it really simple on the nutritionists end, which means we can't have people who have a lot of complicated conditions. So a couple of people have, have filtered in where I didn't do the screening as thoroughly as maybe I should have. And so then there's a little bit of extra time on my part where I have to make sure that the client's needs are being met. But I really don't want to put that on the nutritionist from what you described, like a lot of what you're doing is really, it sounds like kind of scalable coaching, you know, more than a course that people might traditionally think of it are so and what have you found to be most effective in terms of the actual sort of course or learning component, in terms of structure and content that you're delivering to people and guiding them through a process. What's worked best there? Well, definitely video, I mean I can't even imagine delivering of course without video. I just, I just made a bunch of videos and they're some of them have slides, some of them don't. I try to keep the videos really short, so if I know that it's going to take me 15 minutes to convey the content for module five, let's say I'm going to break that up into three or four videos having, you know, any kind of document resources are on their, you know, they can book their calls with the coach right through the platform. That's been really helpful. I think also just the way that we communicate is really important. I don't do quizzes, I don't do you know, like when I did the food bowls course and we were a group, I would have them do like a completion quiz checklist kind of thing. So I don't really do, you know, I don't do games and I would like to do that, but it was, it was enough just to get all the content up there for six months. So, but I think some of that stuff could be, could be fun, but really, you know, in my opinion, I mean it depends on what the course is about, right, Like weight loss is, is really about motivation and accountability. So I, that's why I moved away from the group thing because I think people really need to feel like they're accountable to a person who's like, hey, you did this or you didn't do that and um, I think that's the most valuable, but I don't think that I could ever sit down to a nutritionist and say, hey, you know, we don't have a platform, but I just want you to help these, this is my process. Like how would I ever explain that to someone possible? So the course or the program really carries the nutritionist through. So I think if you have good content and you have accountability, I don't know if you need all the bells and whistles, but that's maybe just for weight loss. I can't speak to, you know, other courses really Jill what's the next iteration that you're considering? Well, that's a good question Danny right now, I'm just really, really hyper focused on, on just getting more. I have two people to nutritionists working for me. So I'm really just focusing on building it, getting more people through the program. You know, one idea was to actually create an app platform so that I could have the course on the platform and then have the food diary there. I know that's a big investment, but you know, I'm super happy with the way it is now. Awesome. Very cool. I don't have any other questions, awesome, joe. This was great. Nice work. Thank you. Um, I'll do the readout. Okay, Jill Cruises, a board certified nutrition specialist. She coaches women to lose weight in a sustainable and enjoyable way without feeling deprived. You can find her at win. That's W Y N. Weight loss dot com. That's win weight loss dot com. Mm Now, stick around for my favorite part of the show where I live and I will pull out the very best insights and practical takeaways for you to take and apply to your own course. Mm hmm. All right, let's debrief. Hey, what jumped out to you? So I think Jill's course or program goes beyond the boundaries of what people might think of in their mental model of the course, which is a team we've touched on before. It's really a leverage coaching program that uses a combination of structured content like of course, but also some really creative implementation of coaching. Help move people toward their goals. I mean, to me, what she's done really well is a understand the domain. So understanding that for people who wanting to lose weight and get healthier, it's not about just giving them a lot more information. In fact, they probably already know a lot of the things they need to do. It's really helping them do it, helping them stay accountable and make progress day to day and week to week. And she was very creative and how she's managed to scale that. You know, I think a lot of people who have expertise in coaching, they might think like, well, yeah, I can provide all the support to my clients where I give them a course and and then I have weekly coaching sessions with and so on. But then it was just, you know, max out cap out at a certain number of clients. I I really can't do anything beyond that simple model. Whereas joe came up with this way to basically have coach is working under her or implementing her program with clients that works really well, right? Her clients are not losing anything in the experience because they're not working directly with her. The coaches are carefully vetted and they know how to use her system to help our clients get results. So it really shows that it's possible to scale and deserve more people while maintaining a very high level of support. I agree. And I mean to the first point that you made, you know, people sometimes ask me, you know, Danny, what's the difference between a coach and a consultant and a teacher or an instructor? And the way I think about it is depends how good they are, right, I think a lousy coach and a lousy consultant and a lousy teacher are very different, like they're lousy in very different ways, but a really good coach in a really good consultant, a really good teacher will often kind of converge in this middle point because delivering transformation, whatever the primary modality is will lean on these other things too. And so if you're doing it really well, there is this blurry area where it's like, is it a course with a coaching component or is it a coaching program with a course component? Right. If you're doing it really well, it can kind of meet in the middle in that way and Jill did a really interesting job of laying that out and also Focusing on first, what's the content layer where she started with her very first food boss program for eight weeks. And then what is the coaching that it takes to help people actually internalize and implemented and see behavior change in results which took the stretching out over six months but also took the both the added layer of how to do the coaching and then this really laser focused attention to optimizing and streamlining the process. So working inside of the app that these for tracking and then having the communication be done through through audio and video with lumen and really kind of zeroing in on and paying attention to what are the areas where you know, here's an exception that might kind of make it problematic to refining the content and smoothing it out and also making sure the intake process is selective so that the people are coming into the program are the people who can be well served by this, by this streamlined process. I hope that was really impressive. I think she also did a good job of understanding how her clients want to interact and communicate with her and her coaches and shaping the technology she uses to align with that rather than forcing them to use a specific system that might not be as effective. So she discovered through it seems like some experimentation and trial and error, that she really needed clients to be tracking their diet and an app to stay on top of it. And then also that if her coaches could communicate directly through that app and send video and audio messages rather than text, then people would be, you know, a lot more engaged and feel a lot more supported by those messages. So the process, you know, iterating to get to that really effective method of communication and support seems like it was important piece of why people are getting results with the program as opposed to, you know, just going through some weight loss content and then kind of losing momentum. I also really appreciated the kind of back end business logic, attention to the details, right? There are people who are creating courses and there are people who are creating online course businesses and Jill is very clearly in the latter camp, right? It's not just I want to have this cool course and then I'll hope for the best, but in order to provide meaningful, effective, impactful and scalable support And do it in a way that's cost effective, you need to know your numbers and so I really appreciated the digging into. Okay, so I'm I'm looking at $2400 of revenue per client, per student, a little more if they're on the payment plan, but then there's going to be some attrition. So let's call it $2400. Um I can allocate about a third of that to fulfillment, which is a good best practice, You know, rule of thumb, you take your your top line revenue, a third of it goes to contribution profit, a third of it goes to um customer acquisition and the last third goes to fulfillment. So I've got $800. And then looking at, well, how can I Use those $800 to actually get a quality coaching and support experience and we streamline it so you can get really good traction through all of that. I thought that was really impressive and really valuable that she opened the book so our listeners could kind of get a sense of what the actual math looks like in a well functioning online course business. It also shows that you can have a high value, high price point, of course, in any domain, right? There's, you know, thousands of free weight loss videos on Youtube. There's $17 you to be courses, you know, on weight loss. But that's not stopping her from having a super successful $2400 program in the same niche. So just good reminder and encouragement for everyone that no matter what you do or how you're supporting your clients or what do you mean you're in? You can create a premium, high value program. You know, if, if you're providing results, that's a really good point. And weight loss is a notoriously commoditized and saturated market. So, you know, if you can do it there, you can do it just about anywhere. Yeah. I also liked the idea that, okay, so it was originally eight weeks and it became six months and there was a bit of a concern around, you know, will people have that patients that attention span? You know, we imagine we're living in this like goldfish attention span, you know, instant gratification environment, but people were perfectly fine and happy with it. And I would even posit that there is a, a dimension of added credibility, right? Because if I want to lose weight in a meaningful way, there's only so much weight loss you can expect to experience in, in two months in eight weeks. And that's that's all I've got. I'm not that's a little if that's a lot. But did you have do you have anything else you wanted to? Uh 2.2? No, that's that's good. I think it was quite thorough as these debriefs go. All right, so do you wanna do the readout? Horse Lab is a mere cfm original production. Thank you for listening to Course Lab, I'm a crystal co founder of residue here with Danny de founder and ceo of Mercy. This episode, of course, Lab was produced by Stephanie Elam with support from new Zealand's Danny is our executive producer. Big thanks to Joel Cruz, taking the time to share her passion about her. Of course, you can find out more about her at win weight loss dot com. That's when W Y N. Weight loss dot com. Don't forget to tune into mirrors these new podcast, making it in each episode. A successful entrepreneur will share what making it means to them and what they have learned along the way. So you don't miss the really great episodes coming up on course. Lab subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you're listening right now. And if you like the show, please leave us a start review is the best way to help us get these ideas for more people. Thank you and we'll see you next time. Uh huh uh huh. So I pay the court if I may say what, what I charge is it Okay? Yeah. I don't know. Absolutely. The more specific the better, you know, someplace sometimes some some shows that like it's all euphemistic, it's like nobody needs to know, you know, the more detail the better. Okay.