My journey with online courses over the past few years has been a bit… bumpy, to say the least. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve grown. I’ve struggled. And overall, I’ve made a pretty decent chunk of change from selling my online courses.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and look at my experience with online courses since starting Blog Beautifully back in 2016. I’ll even throw some numbers at you that I’ve never shared before!
My First Course Launch
My first course launch was for WordPress in a Weekend in June 2016, and if I remember correctly, it brought in around $1500 (*ahem*, my bookkeeping wasn’t so stellar back then).
I don’t think $1500 is terrible considering the fact that my blog and email list had only been around for 3 months at the time. However, I spent over six weeks creating the WordPress in a Weekend course and *weeks* writing a 10,000-word email course as my pre-launch freebie… And, well, let’s just say my time and energy could definitely have been better spent elsewhere.
My Second Launch
My next course launch was in October 2016 and it was for my Pinterest course, Pageviews from Pinterest.
This launch was a bit more advanced as I had a full email sequence, a much better sales page, and a few affiliates helping to spread the word about my course. This time, I brought in around $3,000. Still, not bad – but it was nowhere near the numbers I was dreaming of, so it was back to the drawing board…
My Third Launch
Then in January 2017, I felt like I struck gold. I ran a chill, laidback launch for my biggest course, Profit From Your Passion, and (somehow) managed to generate $10,000 in revenue.
Looking back, I’m gonna chalk that number up to a few things:
Needless to say, I was thrilled. I felt like I had cracked some sort of secret code, and my addiction to online courses was set in full swing.
Since those first three course launches, I’ve created one more course — with another one on the way later this month! — and launched a total of 8 times (with a sprinkle of other sales and promotions mixed in). Creating and selling courses has become my favorite business model, and the one that generates 80% of my revenue each year.
If you’re thinking of creating and selling your first course in the near future, all I can say is GO FOR IT. Dive in headfirst. A year from now, you’ll be so glad you did!
4 Reasons Online Courses are the Shizz
Classy title for this section, but you get the point. Here are some of the many reasons I’m head over heels with selling online courses:
1. Courses are a renewable resource. In other words, you create the course once, and can sell it over and over again to an unlimited number of people. This removes all caps on your income potential, and if you know what you’re doing, allows you to make the kind of money most people only dream of.
2. They’re a relatively passive form of income. Yes, it takes a lot of time and energy to create the course in the first place, but once it’s created, you can automate your course sales with a good funnel. Which means you can be bringing in money even while you’re out of the office!
3. They’re generally a higher-priced item than things like ebooks, digital kits, etc. This means you’ll need to sell fewer courses vs. ebooks to make the same amount of money, and in my experience, a course launch will pretty much always lead to higher figures than an ebook launch.
4. Your audience will deeply benefit from your courses. You likely started your blog because you had an important message, talent, or story to share with the world — and creating a course lets you take things up a few levels. It sounds corny, but your students truly will become your friends.
There are plenty of other reasons I’m a course-junkie, but I’m sure by now you get the point: they’re awesome, you’re awesome, and you need to be selling them.
4 Mistakes I’ve Made as a Course Creator
Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back there are a LOT of mistakes I’ve made as a rookie course creator. In fact, I still make mistakes all the time to this day! There’s a big learning curve when it comes to course creation, and especially to launching. So you to help you avoid my newbie mistakes, here are a couple of things I did that you should steer clear from:
Mistake #1. Underpricing my course
There have definitely been times when I sold a course for less than what it was worth and also for less than the “going rate” for similar courses on the market. Underpricing is problematic because:
a) It can cause your audience to undervalue your course and not buy
b) It “undercuts” the market, which is detrimental to all course creators in the long run
c) Obviously, you make less money than you could have if you priced your course higher
Pricing your course can be tricky, but as a general guide, don’t go too far below the price of other similar courses in your niche. It might be tempting because you feel like you’ll have more people sign up for your course when you price low, but it can lead to a battle with your competitors over who will have the lowest price – and that’s a battle nobody wins.
Mistake #2. Overpricing my course
On the other hand, I’ve also overpriced my courses. Specifically, with my first course I let outside opinions affect the course price I chose, and I also failed to consider my audience’s budget and the amount they would be willing to pay for the knowledge and results I was promising in the course.
Overpricing is problematic because it will deter people in your audience from purchasing your course, and those who do purchase may feel disappointed.
Mistake #3. Not segmenting my email list
One of the keys to successfully email marketing campaigns is writing emails that are highly targeted. If you want to have a five- or six-figure course launch, you shouldn’t be sending the exact same emails to every single person on your mailing list. Yet that’s exactly what I’ve done with plenty of my launches in the past – simply because I was new and didn’t know what I was doing!
In this post, I talk about the “Pre-Launch” phase of a successful course launch, which includes releasing a signature lead magnet in the weeks leading up to your launch. This signature lead magnet is a great way to segment your email list so you can see which of your subscribers are interested in the topic of your course, and focus your marketing efforts towards them.
You can learn more about the Pre-Launch phase (and the other two phases) of a successful course launch in this post. I’ve also covered the top 8 mistakes I see new course creators make over in this post.
My Top 4 Tips for New Course Creators
Since I’ve been around the block a time or two, I want to share some tried-and-true tips for creating and selling online courses. Most of these stem from things I’ve done wrong or ineffectively in the past, so hopefully they help you make your first course launch a crazy success!
Tip #1. Verify your course idea by pre-selling the course before you create it.
I’m a huge fan of pre-selling just about anything, but I think it works especially when for courses.
Pre-selling is when you open up sales for your course before you actually create the course. You let potential students know that the course isn’t ready quite yet but will be available to them by X date, and then use the number of sales that roll in to gauge your audience’s interest in the course and topic.
If absolutely no one buys: no harm, no foul, and now you don’t spend months creating a course only to find out that nobody wants it. If a decent number of people sign up, then you’re safe to invest time into creating the course material.
I know pre-selling can sound scary at first. When I first heard about the idea of pre-selling something before I’d even made it, I thought the idea sounded mental. But it’s become such a big part of how I launch new courses that I had to mention it today and encourage you to try it out.
Tip #2. Start small and get bigger.
The first course you ever create doesn’t have to be a massive 10-module beast. Like I said earlier, there’s a learning curve to creating and selling courses. Trying to create a huge course on your first go can be incredibly daunting, challenging, and also, a large course can be tough to sell if you’ve never sold anything before and don’t have an existing customer base.
Start small. Focus on one small, specific topic, and help your students achieve one specific, tangible result. Once you have your first (smaller) course under your belt, you can either create other larger courses or expand your small course into a bigger one.
Tip #3. Pay for help in the right areas.
I’ve spent a decent amount of money on contractors and tools to help me create and launch courses, but looking back, I can see that some of that money was misplaced.
For example, for my first course launch I hired a copywriter to help me with my sales page copy. And while she was absolutely amazing, she was basically “polishing a turd”, as they say. She was taking my words, phrases, and paragraphs, and making them sound nicer and more persuasive.
It sounds good in theory, but at the time, a better investment for me to make would’ve been a course or kit to help me understand the theory behind sales pages, see which sections to include and what to say in each section, and craft copy that sells.
On the other hand, I’ve made a few really good investments that have helped me create better courses and make more sales. Some of my favorites are:
I do think it’s wise to invest some money into your courses and sales techniques, but you don’t have to go overboard. There are lots of free or inexpensive tools available to help you get started.
Tip #4. Create scarcity.
If you only take one tip away from this post, let it be this one.
The human mind is wired to think that scarcity = more value. In other words, when something is only limitedly available, we begin to want it more. It’s just a weird psychological effect of our weird little brain (I’m sure if you dove into evolutionary psychology, there’s an explanation for it that stems back 10,000+ years).
Either way, creating the effect of scarcity around your course and offer is an amazing way to boost sales. In fact, it’s my number one strategy.
With a course launch, scarcity can look like…
Give some of these a try when you launch your course and I promise they’ll increase your sales and the perceived value of your course and bonuses.
So there you have it! My experiences, mistakes, and top tips when it comes to creating and selling online courses. Have you sold a course before? Do you have plans to in the next few months?
Your First Course Launch
If you’re ready to forge ahead into the world of online courses, I’ve just released a brand new course that will be right up your alley! It’s called “Your First Course Launch” and it contains everything you need to know to run a successful pre-launch, open cart, and post-launch campaign for your first course. Everything from the basics of choosing your course topic and naming your course, to crafting killer launch emails and a swoon-worthy sales page.
Oh, and did I mention this course is MEGA affordable? For real! Click here to check out Your First Course Launch and join me inside! 🙂