I’m calling it – this is the year of the online course.
It seems like everyone’s got a course (or in the process of making one…)
So why shouldn’t you?
I hear it from people all the time – they want to build a huge online course because they see the gurus do it. They envision the profit potential and daydream about multiple figure sales days.
I get nervous when I hear people talk about money first, and their customers second (or not at all).
And I’ve seen it backfire time and time again because people focus on the wrong things.
A few years back I watched someone create a 20 hour audio course on a super niche topic. They spent months recording content and spent over 10k creating the course – between design, audio production and a marketing “expert” who didn’t exactly pan out…
And guess what?
The course launched to crickets. NO ONE bought it.
There was no audience and no promotion – and NO one was clamoring for the content. So who was going to buy it?
Before you spend tons of cash (and time) creating a big online course try this:
1. Research your customer’s problems – BEFORE you create your course outline.
- What problems are they trying to solve or fix?
- What are they googling?
- What are they willing to pay for the answers?
- What are your clients paying you NOW to do?
- What are people begging you to create?
One great way to find this info is to work one-on-one with a number of people. Find out what they’re struggling with – and create content (and solutions) around those issues.
Don’t create your content in a vacuum!
2. Get people interested in what you have to say.
- Do you have a core audience who knows who you are and what you have to offer?
- Are you getting emails / questions / comments on a regular basis about your topic?
- Have you built up an audience of people who consider you an authority on the subject? (This doesn’t have to take as long as you think by the way…)
3. Get it out there quicker. Test early, test often.
So often perfectionism gets in the way of actually getting stuff out there. (I’ve done this myself…spending months creating my first e-book when I should’ve spent more time and energy on marketing and promotion…)
I’ve launched dozens of courses and products over the years for myself and for clients and I can tell you that it’s never going to be perfect. But you’ll never know what’s going to happen until you get some version of it out there!
Test your content and approach with a small beta group to validate your idea. You don’t have to have a super fancy membership site when you start out (and I say that as someone who regularly makes them).
I have a friend whose course regularly earns in the high 5 figures – and it’s a simple password protected page with a paypal payment link. While it’s not the most secure method, she had demonstrated that people will pay her for her content and her audience asks for more.
Once you’ve proven that people will pay for your idea, THEN you can re-invest and fancy it up.
What do you really need to get started?
1. A strong sales page and/or email that clearly outline the pros / cons and benefits of the course.
2. A pre-interest list. Announce the course to your core audience – this will help you gauge how interested people are in your topic. Unless you already have a really devoted audience who snap up everything you create, you’re testing to see if your products will sell.
3. A small beta group that goes through your program.
This is the time to see how people are working through the content and what learning styles are best for your audience. Make sure to have regular check-ins with your course participants to see how engaged they are with you and your content.
This is the time to work out the kinks in your program and systems – NOT when you’re trying to launch to a larger audience.
- Did people have trouble paying?
- Was it clear what the course involved?
- Did people finish the course?
- Did you charge enough?
- What kind of tech support issues did you encounter?
- Are people asking for more clarification about the content?
- Did testers want more support from you?
4. Feedback* – refine your course structure, content and deliverability based on user feedback.
- What results did the course participants get?
- Gather testimonials -how have participants benefitted from your course?
*Note: Feedback tends to be better if people pay at least a nominal fee for the course. When people pay, they feel more invested in doing the work.
5. Renovate and relaunch – NOW is the time to re-invest, upgrade the sales page, course design and advertise to a wider audience.
This product flow is why I encourage people to make a smaller or “taster” product first.
Benefits of starting small
- You get from start to finish a whole lot faster than jumping into a larger course.
- You gain confidence from selling your first finished product.
- You prove that your idea is viable and that people want to pay for it.
- You’re sure that you’re passionate about the topic and have the temperament to talk about it a lot. Because you will be talking about it all the time!
- You get enough feedback and info to launch on a much larger scale.
- You build up your interest list.