Are you looking to create your first online program? Or, are you frustrated because the one you launched last time didn’t do that well? I get it. We have all been there.
And this is precisely why I wrote this blog post. So that your e-course can become a best seller. I am serious.
Let’s get stuck into it!
#1 Start with the research
If you want your online course to sell, this is the step you cannot afford to skip. I don’t care how much you know in your heart that this is what your audience needs. What you should be concerned about is what they want and also are willing to pay for.
Meaning, it doesn’t really matter what they want, people need lot of things but they don’t necessarily want to buy. So what do you do? You find out what is it that they are happy to pay for. You see where the demand is. You find out if there is a gap in the market you can fill.
This takes some research but doesn’t require months. Firstly, turn to your own audience. What types of questions do you receive regularly? What sort of blog posts or social media updates get the most traction? This gives you good idea about what people want.
Secondly, look at the competition. Look at similar e-courses, workshops, tele-classes or paid workshops. If you find options, that is a good thing. You don’t want to create demand, you want to enter a market where plenty of people are already spending money. (If you don’t see any e-courses, go on Amazon to see if there are books on your topic that are actually getting sold). And then create yours.
#2 Choose a winning idea
After you see evidence of sufficient demand in your topic, start brainstorming course ideas. Contrary to popular belief that you need to start with the audience wants, I am going to recommend that you start with yourself. What do you want to teach?
If you choose to pick something that the audience wants, I see two problems with this approach. First, when you look at creating something, you are approaching it from a purely business point of view, while it may seem like a smart choice, it isn’t always. If you pick something and you don’t love the idea to bits, you will lose steam. And since we are talking online courses, when you are not feeling it, people can sense it.
So for informational products, it is even more important that you pick an idea you love first, and then add it to your short list if it meets the equally important second condition – it satisfies the market demand criteria.
The second problem with choosing something that market wants is this: so what if market wants it. The better question to ask is if you are able to get in front of them.
Have you got a decent sized list you can sell to? Then find out if they want it. If not, are you in a position to run Facebook ads? Have you got the time to guest post? Market demand won’t do you any good if you can reach them.
#3 Grow your email list
An idea you love to teach and has market demand? Check. Okay now before you start creating your online course, I want you to start growing your email list. You might have heard from other experts that you can launch your course and grow your list at the same time, and yes that’s certainly one way of doing it.
The reason why I don’t recommend this approach is because when you are launching an e-course, you will be going through a stressful and tense time period. You have spent all this time creating this e-course and you want to sell it. And there are no guarantees at this point so things are a little tense.
So do yourself a favour and start building your email list now, while you create your e-course. Digging deeper into this subject, you may be wondering how many people you should have before you launch.
I advise people to create their launch goals first and then decide if they need to grow their list (and nearly everybody does). So let’s say you are selling a $200 dollar course. And you want to make ten thousand dollars in this launch. You need 50 people to buy. And because a list on average converts at 1-5%, you need 1,000 people on your list at the minimum. Sure, if you have a great relationship with your list, your conversion rates will be high, so you might need fewer people.
#4 Create a system
You are not selling information. You are selling a result.
Information has become a commodity. It is available everywhere. People have become so used to having information at their fingertips that it’s no longer viable to sell useful information only. However, when you take the information and package it in a system that gives people results, now you are on to something.
People are not paying you for your expertise. They don’t care how many years you invested in becoming a credible expert. Your qualifications don’t mean anything to them. They could care less about your experience. Don’t believe me? I’ll send you a link from a guy who holds a PhD and ask you to go check him out. Would you buy something purely because he is so knowledgeable and because he gives away so much information? No. You will buy if he is selling you something that shows you how to create a result you desire.
Create a process that takes people from point A to B and people would be ten times more likely to buy the same information, packaged differently.
#5 Choose a simple delivery format
Once your course is ready, you need to think about how you are going to deliver it to the participants. And if you are like most people, this is the part that keeps you stuck, sometimes even from building your course.
Many people have told me that they would love to create an online course or a workshop but they are too scared to deal with the techy parts. To make matters worse, they visit their favourite Facebook groups and ask which platform to use and get a long thread of responses citing their preferred option.
The first thing you need to realize is what your course will look like. Is it text based only? If so, the easiest way to deliver it is via email. Or, you can use a WordPress plugin to protect your content on a single location. Both options work.
If you have videos, you do need to host them on a secure server such as Vimeo Plus or Wistia. Then you can embed the links on a password protected page, alongside any other supplemental material and learning resources. This is by far the simplest way of delivering your course.
If you are offering quizzes that students must complete before accessing the next level, or you need forums, your needs are different. I would advise you to do your own research first and see whether Optimize Press Member, or Member Mouse, or Zippy Courses, or any other option would suit your needs best.
#6 Name it right
First, a disclaimer: I am really bad when it comes to naming courses. As soon as I need to name something, my creativity flies out the window so I am not the best person for advice.
That being said, I do think this step gives people a lot of grief – for no good reason. They drive themselves crazy trying to come up with the perfect name. I actually think that naming a course isn’t that hard (try naming a physical product). The name you choose for your current launch won’t be set in stone, and you can always change it for the subsequent one.
My advice is to keep it simple and make it as descriptive of the course you are creating as you can. Remember, this is not a headline so keep it short.
For example, Naomi Dunford’s 12-month course about launches is called “Big Launch”. David Siteman Garland’s course where he teaches people how to interview others is titled ‘Create Awesome Interviews’. Derek Halpern teaches you how to get people to say yes to your products or services and call his program ‘Yes Engines’.
The best names call out to the right audience. They tell you or hint at the big result they provide. Plus they don’t really matter all that much. No one has ever bought a course or rejected one on the basis of its name alone. Don’t make it complicated.
#7 Price your course right
This is a topic I could spend hours talking about. There is so much to cover. But for our purposes, I am going to keep it short and sweet.
First of all, please remember that your pricing is just a marketing tool. It doesn’t have anything to do with your worth and everything with how much is it worth to the client.
So instead of thinking that you need to charge a high price because you spent years becoming an expert, think about the result your course will provide to the participant. Then think about how much value they would place on acquiring that result. Price accordingly.
That being said, there are other considerations that must be taken into account. How are you packaging your program? What sort of brand have you got? How will you be positioning it? Having a premium, highly sought-after brand means you can charge a premium price.
Are you somewhat new to the scene? Are you still building your credibility? People might not be ready to pay a higher price.
Finally, have you got what it takes to deliver results? Have you got testimonials and a track record of helping previous clients? The more confident you are in your ability to promise results, the higher a price tag you can put on your program.
#8 Do a beta round
If this is your first online course, consider doing a beta round first.
Now it is entirely up to you whether or not you want to call it that. You can simply charge a reduce price and offer a substantial discount for the first set of people who go through the course.
Be honest with them and tell them while you know your stuff, but you are delivering in this format for the first time. It might be entirely possible that you are teaching for the first time ever and you may or may not want to say that exactly but tell them you are looking to hearing their feedback and making it even better.
Don’t let people try it out for free because they won’t be invested and won’t take action to actually see for themselves if they are making any progress. Also let people know that they would get access to the program when it launches fully.
Pay attention to the feedback you receive. Be open to constructive criticism and make it better. This is how you create a program that becomes a best seller.
#9 Create a killer sales page
This is a huge topic but I would like to say a few things.
People create courses and complain only 7 people bought it. And when you ask them how many people actually saw their sales page, they are not sure. If 40 people actually landed on your sales page and 7 bought, that’s huge. Your sales page is fine. Your program is fine. You need to send more people to your sales page.
Your sales page is a problem if you are sending decent amounts of traffic to your sales page and it is not converting. Traffic in the thousands. Not hundreds (this number is not big enough to show any conclusive data).
Get a professional copywriter to tweak your sales page if you are worried but first send people to it before you declare it useless.
#10 Launch it
Plan the launch sequence and you have done you job. Decide on when your program will launch and then work backwards. It doesn’t have to be a big, flashy launch and can be kept fairly low key if that’s what you prefer but you still need to warm people up and get them excited. Just announcing that your new e-course is up for sale is not enough. Start building a buzz.
Start telling people that you are working on this thing. Post updates on social media. Ask them questions. Take them behind the scenes and make them feel like a part of your creation process so they are looking forward to it.
Plan a few guest posts to get published around the time when your course comes out. And plan a series of pre-launch content. This can be 5-7 pieces of content depending on how big your course it. Open cart and give people on your email list an opportunity to buy early before you open to the main public.
Online courses have built in scarcity and urgency. People need to enroll because the class starts on a certain date and they can’t enroll after. If there is live teaching involved, or if you are grading certain elements of homework, you may want to restrict places. It’s all inherently built-in and you don’t have to fake it.
I am assuming your course itself is top notch.
You structure is clear and everything flows. You take people on the simplest path to success. When people take action, they see results.
So if you do everything else that I outlined in this blog post, there is no reason why your program won’t sell out.
Have you launched a program recently? How did it go? Tell us in the comments below!