I just launched my first ever digital course. The launch itself was an experience to say the least. I loved putting it together and writing all the copy for it (obvs), but executing it was exhausting.
In terms of sales, I’m going to be completely real with you. I sold less than I wanted to, but I did sell some spots which is great considering I offered the course at a high price point. Financially, I’m happy. And the people who did sign up are amazing. I’m super excited to be coaching them for the next few months.
As the launch came to an end, two first-time course creators got in touch and asked if I have any advice for them.
I do. I have a lot of advice. So much, in fact, that I decided to write an entire blog post about the lessons I learned.
If you’re planning to launch a digital course of your own, you’ll want to read this. I promise, this post will save you money, time and tears.
1. Pre-sell your course
I pre-sold mine too.
Let’s rewind. What is pre-selling?
Pre-selling is when you sell a course that doesn’t yet exist. You create the course after people have bought it.
Imagine creating an entire digital course only to sell a grand total of zero. Painful, right?
Pre-selling stops that from happening. You validate your course before dedicating time, money and energy to creating it.
Do your customers really want the course? They might say they do, but will they actually put their money where their mouth is when the time comes to it?
If they buy it, that’s great. But if they don’t, you won’t have lost anything anyway. It’s a win-win situation (minus the small issue of no one buying your product).
Things were a little different for me because I was turning my face-to-face workshop into an online course, which meant my content did exist. But I still needed to redo all the slides, record the lessons, and then upload them to my chosen platform.
I wasn’t willing to do that without at least having some sales. Having that money in the bank gave me the motivation I needed to start creating it.
So, how does this work in practice?
I had one module recorded so that when people bought my course they could get straight into it. I planned to release the next five modules every two weeks after that. This is known as a drip release. It’s handy because it gave me two weeks to record and publish each module.
The key to your audience being okay with a drip release is honesty. Just be honest.
I made it clear this was the arrangement, and I was transparent about it from the beginning. I even gave my students a module release schedule so they know when to expect each one.
In terms of logistics, I use a great platform called Teachery (more on this coming soon), which allows me to lock and unlock individual modules. I scheduled each module to unlock every two weeks, so my students can only access them when I want them to.
Special thanks to Cathy Topping who encouraged me to do this. I invested in one of Cathy’s hour-long strategy sessions to help me plan these launch details back in August.
Book one now! It cost me £99 and with Cathy’s advice, I managed to make more than 10 times that during my first launch.
How to Launch and Validate a Digital Course – Cathy Topping [online masterclass]
How to Pre-Sell Your Online Course with Amy Hoy – Level Up Your Course Podcast – Janelle Allen [podcast]
7 Steps to Pre-selling Your Course – Amy Porterfield [podcast]
6 Steps to a Successful Presale – Teachable [blog post]
How to Sell Online Courses Before You Create Them (Guide to Pre-Selling) – Thinkific [blog post]
2. Your email list is where the money is at
I sold my course at a high price, which meant only people who trusted me and had known me for a while would buy it. I knew that before I started marketing, and that knowledge informed my entire marketing strategy.
I had a HUGE email sequence that I worked really hard on. (And I LOVED writing it, so if you need someone to write your launch emails, get in touch).
I was right. Every person who bought my course was on my mailing list. But to get to that point, I had to start putting in the work WAY before my launch.
I’d been sending weekly emails to my list for at least three or four months prior to my launch, giving them valuable copywriting tips and advice. But in order to foster that level of trust, I had to commit to my audience and send them emails regularly and consistently long before I actually asked them to buy anything from me. That’s the only reason I was able to sell a high-priced course to them.
Now, not every course will need a lengthy email sequence. If you’re selling a course under £100 for example, social media will probably work really well for you. But for me, social media supplemented my email strategy. It was email first, social second.
Did you know 90% of emails get delivered to the recipient’s inbox, as opposed to just 2% of the Facebook fans who sees your posts in their News Feed? (Forrester Research). If that’s not enough to convince you of the power of email, I don’t know what is!
I say focus on your email list. These are people who have opted to hear from you. They like you, they trust you, they want more of your stuff.
So why not start with them?
If you don’t have an email list, it’s never too late to start building one.
Mail Motion App – A cool countdown timer for your emails
3. Which platform? Choose Teachery
Not Teachable. Teachery.
The biggest thing that attracted me to Teachery was: NO FEES.
Yepp, you read that right. Zero fees.
Unlike most other platforms, Teachery doesn’t take a percentage of every sale you make (or any sale for that matter). You pay either the monthly fee of $45 a month (about £35) or an annual fee of $470 (about £370).
Everything you earn is yours, minus the Stripe fees (a flat rate of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction).
On top of that, there’s no limit on the number of courses you can make or the number of students you accept.
How amazing is that?
The person behind Teachery is Jason Zook, and he’s a business owner and entrepreneur just like us. He wants to support us instead of taking all our money. Refreshing, right?
Teachery doesn’t have the bells and whistles that more expensive platforms have – but that’s why its fees are so reasonable.
It has everything you could possibly need, including landing pages, payment pages, Mailchimp and ConvertKit integration, lesson drip scheduling, and customer analytics.
It’s beautiful to look at and it’s simple to use for both course creators and students.
Sold yet? Try the 14-day trial.
If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of Teachery, it’s because Jason Zook does zero marketing for it. He relies on word of mouth to grow Teachery – and guess what? Teachery’s growing.
This is what my course dashboard looks like:
My online copywriting course for business owners and marketing professionals is ready for release.Registration closes TONIGHT and Module 1 unlocks tomorrow morning.There are still spots available if you're ready to transform your marketing with the power of words.Sign up now at https://inkhouse.org.uk/copywriting-course/
Posted by InkHouse on Sunday, 13 October 2019
(Note: Because I’m such a huge fan of Teachery, I’m an affiliate. That means if you sign up to Teachery through any of the links in this blog post, I’ll get a little reward – at no extra cost to you).
Teachery Review: Online Course Selling Without the Fees – Ecommerce Platforms
Teachery vs Teachable – 10 Major Differences + Full Comparison Chart – Side Hustle Academy
How to build a value-driven online education business with Jason Zook – Level Up Your Course Podcast – Janelle Allen
4. Post more than you’re comfortable
Despite the fact that I relied on email more than social media, social should still be a big part of your marketing plan.
Think about how many times you plan to post about your course in one day. Have you got that number in your head?
Okay, now double it.
If there’s one lesson I learned, it’s that I didn’t post enough. I was posting twice a day, but because of social media algorithms, lots of posts didn’t gain the traction I wanted and needed.
I should’ve posted more.
Don’t make the same mistake I did and think you’re annoying people. Most people won’t see your posts unfortunately, so post more than you’re comfortable with.
P.S. Even though you might hate posting videos of yourself, here’s a friendly reminder that videos “generate 12 times more shares than text and images combined.”
This is the time to think outside the box and experiment a little. If your experiment works, great! If it doesn’t, it’s just a lesson learned.
Have a look at what other course creators are doing and be inspired by their successes and mistakes.
Oh, and don’t forget to have fun while you do it.
Over to you
If you like this post, don’t forget to hit share. I’d love to hear more about your course creating so leave a comment and let me know how it’s going.
Eman Ismail is a UK-based copywriter and the founder of InkHouse. She works with businesses and non-profits across the world, writing marketing materials and content that increases their exposure and attracts their ideal audience.
When she’s not writing or delivering copywriting workshops, you’ll find her glued to a podcast in the corner of a cosy cafe.