How to Launch Your First Profitable Course With My 3-Phase Launch Model
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.
Hello, zero signups! (Well, hopefully a few. But probably not as many as you were hoping for.) I’m here to make sure this never happens to you. Because not only is it sad and a little embarrassing to create a course and have no one buy it, it's also a huge waste of your time.
Here's what you'll learn in today’s post:
The 3 phases of a successful and profitable course launch
What your big goals are during each of the phases
How long each phase lasts for
What tasks you should complete during each phase
When we're finished, you'll have an in-depth understanding of how to put together, schedule, and execute a profitable course launch that generates tons of signups. Ready?
The 3 phases of a successful course launch
Contrary to what I thought the first time I launched a course, your "launch" doesn't just encompass the 10-14 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, I’m talking about a non-evergreen course launch here. If your course is for sale all year round, we call that an evergreen course — and your launch will look a little bit different to the 3-phase model I’m sharing today.
The timing of each launch phase
You can play around with these timelines a bit, but for your first course launch, here's what I suggest:
The Pre-Launch Phase: 3-4 weeks before the cart opens
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 the pre-launch phase in just a minute. Also, keep in mind that your pre-launch phase can technically be up to 60 or even 90 days long. But for your first launch, 3-4 weeks is a great start.
The Cart Open Phase: 7-10 days long
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: 3-6 weeks
This also varies, because the more content you have to create for your course, the longer your post-launch phase will be.
So by now you're probably thinking: What exactly am I supposed to be doing during all of these phases? Don't I just create my course, put up a sales page, and open enrollment? Not quite, my dear. Well, not if you want to sell out your first launch!
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 writing your sales page and sales emails, creating social media promotional 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.
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. The blog posts should be directly related to the topic of the course you'll be selling and they should establish your expertise on the topic, get people interested, and drive traffic to your email list. Speaking of…
2. Create and release a "signature lead magnet".
Remember how one of your main goals I mentioned for the pre-launch phase was to grow your email list with relevant leads? That's where your signature lead magnet comes in!
During the pre-launch phase, you’re going to create a lead magnet (a.k.a. an opt-in freebie) that's directly related to the topic of your course, and then share it in every blog post you publish during 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 is slightly more general. In other words, instead of being so micro-specific that it only fits into one particular blog post, you want to create a lead magnet that's general enough (but still super valuable!) that it fits perfectly in every single one of your pre-launch blog posts.
3. Send out weekly emails to your list, warming them up for your course.
In your pre-launch 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 (your course!).
Don't feel like you have to keep your course a secret. That's a mindset I had in my first few launches, and it reduced the number of sales I made. Surprises are great sometimes, but when it comes to making course sales, people need to be prepared for what's coming.
4. Build excitement about your upcoming course on social media.
Use your social channels — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. — to talk about your course, show behind-the-scenes peeks at the course material, and showcase your expertise on the topic. Get. People. Excited. To. Buy!
Phase 2: The cart open phase
Woo! You made it to the big event: the Cart Open Period. This is the 7-10 day span when your course is open for enrollment and those dolla dolla bills are rolling in. As you probably guessed, your goal for this phase is to share your course and make sales.
Tasks to Complete during 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. 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 programs in the past, you can also share relevant testimonials, results, and experiences from your current or 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 does work, 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. Here are a few topic ideas to consider for your launch emails:
Answer “Frequently Asked Questions” about your course or the course topic
Share your inspiration for creating the course
Share your own story, the struggles you've overcome, and where you're at today
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 click over 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 daily 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 you have some extra time available, you may want to consider hosting some kind of free event. I personally love doing at least one live workshop during my launches and then inviting workshop attendees to join me in my course at the end. If you feel ready to try an advanced strategy, definitely give this a go!
Phase 3: The post-launch phase
Phewf — 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 course creators don't plan for or implement a Post-Launch strategy, but I think it's so super important. Your two big goals for the post-launch phase are to:
1. Educate and interact with your new students
2. Engage with your new subscribers who didn't buy the course
Tasks to Complete During the Post-Launch Phase
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), you won't have much of your course content created at this point. Instead, you'll be creating it live and on-the-fly, 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 via your email list or within your course community (e.g., a Facebook group). It's important to motivate your students week after week, because over time, their ambition and excitement will wane and they’ll be less likely to login and keep progressing through your course.
Continue reminding your students why they purchased the course in the first place 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 is that you'll be able to get invaluable feedback — and possibly 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 people who are brand new to your list. I have an entire blog post on writing a killer welcome series if you need help.
Make sure you send emails that are specific and targeted. I suggest writing and sending a series of 3-4 emails over a period of 2 weeks, where you:
Re-introduce yourself to your new subscribers and highlight your expertise
Let them know that it's totally cool that they didn't buy your course this time around
Share some free resources, gifts, and tools related to the topic of your course
Tell them what they can expect from you moving forward (how often you publish new blog posts, when they'll receive emails from you, etc.)
Once your post-launch phase is in the books... give yourself a huge high-five because you 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’ll learn new techniques that help you improve your sales strategy and make more revenue. I've actually grown to love launching my courses (which is something I never thought I'd say!)
Have you launched a course before? If so, did you incorporate all of these three phrases?