The no. 1 mistake I see bloggers make with their first course launch is not planning out the entire launch WELL in advance.
They get so excited and wrapped up in creating the actual course itself that when it finally comes time to sell the course, they throw up a quick post on Instagram inviting people to join, maybe mentioning it on Facebook… and that’s about it.
*Ahem*. Hello, ZERO SIGNUPS! (Well, hopefully a few. But probably not as many as they were hoping for.)
Today we’re going to make sure this NEVER happens to you. Because not only is it painful and embarrassing to create an entire course and have no one buy it, it’s also a huge waste of your time. No bueno!
Here’s what you’ll learn in this post:
When we’re finished, you’ll have a thorough understanding of how to put together, schedule, and execute a course launch that generates tons of signups and a healthy profit. Ready?
The 3 Phases of a Successful Course Launch
Contrary to what you might think (and to what I thought the first time I launched a course) your “launch” doesn’t just encompass the 10 days when your course is open for enrollment. There’s also a pre-launch and a post-launch phase. So we have:
1. The Pre-Launch Phase
2. The Cart Open Phase (this is when your course is available for sale)
3. The Post-Launch Phase
And to be clear, we’re talking about a non-evergreen course launch here. If your course will be for sale all year round, meaning it’s an evergreen course, your launch will look a little bit different to this 3-phase model (but that’s a topic for another day!)
The Timing of Each Phase in Your Launch
You can play around with these timelines, but for your first course launch, here’s what I suggest:
The Pre-Launch Phase: 3-4 weeks
The more expensive your course is, the longer your pre-launch period should be. You’ll see why when we talk about the goals and tasks you’ll be completing during this phase in just a minute. Also, keep in mind that your pre-launch phase can technically be anywhere up to 60 or even 90 days long. But for your first launch, 3-4 weeks is a safe bet.
The Cart Open Phase: 7-10 days
Again, this can vary slightly depending on the price of your course and your experience with launching, but for your first launch, aim to have your “cart open” for about a week.
The Post-Launch Phase: Generally, 3-6 weeks
This also varies, because the more content you have to create for your course, the longer the Post-Launch Phase will stretch on for.
So by now you’re probably wondering: What exactly am I working on during each of these phases? Don’t I just create the course, whack together a sales page, and open up enrollment?
Not quite, my dear. Well, not if you want to sell out your first launch (on the first try). Here’s what to do instead…
Your Course Launch Game Plan
Phase 1: The Pre-Launch
You have two main goals for this phase of your launch:
1. Generate hype, excitement, and interest in your upcoming course
2. Grow your email list so you have a warm audience to sell your course to
This phase is also when you’ll be putting all the nuts and bolts together for the cart open phase — including things like writing your sales page and sales emails, creating social media promotions and graphics, and creating any bonuses you plan to offer during the cart open phase.
Tasks to Complete in the Pre-Launch Phase
To make this process as easy as possible for you, here’s a checklist of the tasks you’ll want to complete during the pre-launch phase…
1. Publish at least 1 relevant blog post per week leading up to the cart open.
So if your Pre-Launch Phase is 4 weeks long, you’ll publish 4 blog posts (1 per week) leading up to the cart open date. These blog posts should be directly related to the topic of the course you’ll be selling. They should establish your expertise on the topic, get people interested, and also drive traffic to your email list. Speaking of…
2. Create and release a “signature lead magnet”.
Remember how one of your main goals for the Pre-Launch Phase is to grow your email list with relevant leads? That’s where your signature lead magnet comes in! During the Pre-Launch Phase, I want you to come up with a lead magnet (AKA an opt-in freebie) that’s directly related to the topic of your course and share it in every blog post that you publish in the Pre-Launch Phase.
The difference between a regular lead magnet and what I call a “signature lead magnet” is that your signature lead magnet will be slightly more general and encompass a broader range of information. In other words, instead of being so micro-specific that it only fits into one of your pre-launch blog posts, you want to create a lead magnet that’s general enough (but still insanely valuable) that it fits into all 3 or 4 of your pre-launch blog posts.
3. Send out weekly emails to your list warming them up for your course.
In these emails you’ll drive traffic to your blog posts, share tips on the topic of your course, and let people know that something exciting is coming (the course!) Don’t feel like you have to keep your course a secret; that’s a mindset I had the first few times I launched courses, and it held me back from making sales.
Surprises are great sometimes, but when it comes to making sales, people need to be prepared for what’s to come when you open enrollment! So don’t keep your course a secret during the Pre-Launch Phase.
4. Build excitement about your upcoming course on social media.
Use your regular social channels — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — to talk about your course, show behind-the-scenes peeks at the course material, and again, showcase your expertise on the topic. Get. People. Excited. To. BUY!
Phase 2: The Cart Open Phase
Wahoo! You made it to the big event: the Cart Open. This is the 7-10 day span when your course is open for enrollment and those dolla dolla bills are rolling in. As you might have guessed, your big goal for this phase is to share your offering and make sales.
Tasks to Complete in the Cart Open Phase
Let’s look at the 4 tasks you’ll want to complete during this phase.
1. Publish 1-2 blog posts promoting your course.
These posts can be very simple and straightforward, as you explain what the course is about, your inspiration for creating it, and what kind of results people can expect when they sign up. If you’ve worked with clients or offered group coaching programs in the past, you can also share testimonials or experiences from your former clients.
2. Send 3-7 emails to your email list.
Trust me on this one: The VAST majority of your course sales will come from people on your email list. There’s just something so personal and persuasive about email marketing. It really works, so don’t be afraid to send multiple emails to your subscribers during the Cart Open Phase inviting them to join you inside your course.
The key is to switch up the emails so they’re all different — you don’t want to be sending the same sales pitch over and over and ooooover. Here are a few topic ideas to consider for your launch emails:
Always include at least one strong, bold call-to-action in each email, encouraging your subscribers to check out the course and see if it’s the right fit for them. It sounds simple, but if you never ask them to check it out, they probably won’t!
3. Share your course on social media.
This one’s probably a given, but don’t forget to shout out your course a bunch on your social media channels during the Cart Open Phase.
4. Optional: Host a live event, webinar, or free challenge.
If you’re feeling comfortable with your launch and have some free time available, you may want to consider hosting some kind of free event to sell your course “live”. I personally love doing at least one live workshop during each of my launches, and then inviting attendees to join me inside my course at the end. If you feel ready to try a more advanced strategy, definitely give this a go!
Phase 3: The Post-Launch Phase
Phwewf — you did it! You launched your course, welcomed in your new students, and now the doors are closed. What’s next?
You might be tired, but your work isn’t done *quite* yet. A lot of bloggers and online educators don’t plan for or implement a Post-Launch Phase (I’m guilty of not doing this in the past!), but I think it’s so super important which is why I’ve included it.
Your two big goals for the Post-Launch Phase are to:
1. Educate and interact with your new students
2. Engage your new subscribers who didn’t buy the course (so that they might buy next time — or even buy a different offering from you!)
Tasks to Complete During the Post-Launch Phase
And here’s what you’ll be working on during this phase:
1. Creating the course material
If you’re running a “beta testing” round for your course (which I highly suggest doing), you won’t have much of your course content created at this point. Rather, you’ll be creating it on-the-fly, and releasing a new module for your students to work through and implement each week.
2. Checking in with your new students.
This can be done over email or within your course community (e.g., a Facebook group), if you have one. It’s important to motivate your students week after week, because over time, their ambition might wane and they might be less likely to login and keep progressing through the course. Remind your students of why they purchased the course and of all the amazing results that are ahead of them if they put their heads down and keep working.
Another benefit of checking in with your students often is that you’ll be able to get invaluable feedback — and possibly even some awesome testimonials! — from your first round of students, which will make it that much easier to launch and sell your course the next time.
3. Sending follow-up emails to your new subscribers who didn’t buy.
What about all those people who opted into your signature lead magnet in the Pre-Launch Phase or signed up for your webinar or free challenge but didn’t end up buying the course?
The Post-Launch Phase is when you continue to woo these people. It’s super important that in this phase, you make your new subscribers feel welcome and re-introduce yourself to the people who are brand new to your list.
I have an entire blog post on writing a killer welcome series, but in this instance, we want something specific and targeted. I suggest writing and sending a series of 3-4 emails over a period of 2 weeks, where you:
Once your Post-Launch Phase is in the books… give yourself a HUGE hug because you’ve just successfully executed your first online course launch!
It can seem a little daunting at first, but launching does get 10x easier over time. Every time you launch your course, you learn new techniques that help you improve your sales strategy and make a bigger profit. I’ve actually grown to LOVE launching (which is something I never thought I’d say!)
Your First Course Launch
If you’re interested in learning more about the launch process, I’ve been working on a little somethin’ somethin’ that I think you might like. It’s a mini-course called “Your First Course Launch”, and it’s now available for enrollment!
My intention with this course was to create an incredibly affordable resource for bloggers who want to launch their first course this year, but who don’t want the headache of trying to figure everything out themselves — or, worse, the embarrassment of launching their first course and having nobody sign up for it (been there, done that, not fun).
Sound like your cup of tea? I thought it might! Click here to check out Your First Course Launch and join me on the inside.