An online course is one of the most effective ways to serve and scale your audience at the same time. Online courses empower you to help more people than you would if you only offered one-on-one services, and because online courses tend to be at a lower price point than your services, you can reach more people across multiple stages of their careers and lives. By allowing more people to access your wealth of knowledge, you can help a broader audience of people while also increasing your revenue.
Sounds good, right?
In 2018, it’s easy to feel a bit jaded about online courses. I know I am. There is no shortage of online courses being marketed as quick fixes or magic pills. But we’re all savvy and we know that there is no pop-a-pill solution to successful entrepreneurship, so it’s easy to feel like creating an online course is only going to add to the noise.
But as Len Markidan of Podia said in last week’s Branding Outside the Box interview: The world doesn’t need just another e-course. But the world may need your e-course.
There may be hundreds of other e-courses about list-building, Facebook ads, even bread-making, but no one is going to have the same approach and style as you. You have a unique perspective and your ideal students will be ready to hear it.
Even if you haven’t produced an online course or don’t even have an idea yet of what you might offer, you can still get started! Here’s how:
Carry a notebook and write down every question anyone asks you. Whether it’s career advice or how to turn off notifications on an iPhone, we’re constantly being bombarded with questions. We just don’t really pay much attention to them. If you write down every question, you’ll start to notice patterns, and from those patterns, you can begin to craft your idea for an online course. It can be travel tips, technical assistance, even fashion advice. If multiple people are asking YOU the same questions, chances are, there are others out there who want those answers from you, too.
Refine your idea and get specific. People may be asking you for travel advice, but what kind of travel advice? Are they asking you about booking flights and finding deals? Or is it more about the destination and how to find the best places to stay, tour, and eat? The most successful e-courses are the ones that address a specific need or pain point. Go back to the people who asked you these types of questions and ask them for more insight. Find out what their biggest struggles are and how they’d like them fixed. You can even test different course titles and outlines on them and see which one has the best response.
Decide how to deliver the content. There isn’t one right way to deliver an online course, but there’s a “best” way for your target audience. If you are a writer by trade and your audience likes to read books and blog posts, then create a text course that students receive via email once a week or that they can read online. If your audience is on YouTube and you enjoy being on camera, then create a video course. Utilize the mediums that work best for you and that will most appeal to your audience.
Ultimately, students care about the usefulness of your content, not the production value. As long you’re delivering the information they need to get the results they want, it won’t matter that you’re audio isn’t pristine or that you don’t have a professional studio for your video shoots.
Pre-sell the online course. Once you have a course title, outline, and method of delivery, I highly recommend pre-selling the course to your audience before you actually create all the content. There’s a reason crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter are so successful; they give the public ownership over a product and they provide creators with the funding to make the product. By pre-selling your course and offering incentives to sign up early, you’re making your audience feel they had a hand in the creation. Without them, this course wouldn’t be created and they’re getting in on the ground floor. Not only will this increase sign-ups and provide early revenue, it will also be a great litmus test as to how the course will perform once it’s created. If you promote the pre-sale and hear crickets, then you may need to tweak your offering. If you have strong pre-sales, that’s a good indication that you’ll continue to sell well once you officially launch.
You can also choose to run a beta group before launching the course publicly. Rather than opening to the public once it’s created, you can pre-sell the course to a small group and offer a discount on enrollment in exchange for feedback. This allows you to improve your course and work out any kinks before promoting it widely.
Create your promotion plan. Once you have created and launched your online course, or for those of you who already have online courses, the next step is to create your promotion plan.
While most entrepreneurs launch their course one to two times a year, using a “cart open,” “cart close” structure to create urgency and scarcity, the team at Podia actually sees higher sales and revenue from courses that are always available or evergreen. So rather than launching a course twice a year, they recommend keeping your course open and available all year round.
So how do you create scarcity and urgency if the course is always available?
The most common way is to utilize discounts and bonuses. You can present one-day sales or year-end promotions. You can also offer bonuses, such as bundling your course with additional content or adding on a free coaching call. You can even utilize a service called Deadline Funnel* to create timed offers based on when an individual signs up for your mailing list or visits a certain webpage.
If you want to see how this works first-hand, you can sign up for my 7-Day Personal Brand Challenge and see how Deadline Funnel creates a timed discount for the Personal Brand Master Class!
These tactics help people who know about your course but may have been on the fence to finally take the leap.
Some real talk here: While these tactics are very widespread, and we’ve utilized them in the past, this isn’t my favorite way to create urgency. Discounts and deals attract the bargain shoppers, and you want the majority of the people coming to your course because they recognize the value and want to make a change. If knocking $50 off was the key factor in someone making a decision to sign up for your course, then chances are, that person isn’t signing up because they’re ready to take action.
My favorite way to create urgency for evergreen courses is through the copy. By creating website text, emails and social media posts that convey the transformation and the impact the course can have on their lives, you also show that by waiting another week, even another day, to sign up, that they’re just delaying that success. If they don’t sign up for your online course, they will be just one more day behind all the folks who did sign up for the course and are already taking action. This tactic attracts the doers, the change-makers, and those are the people you really want to see in your e-course.
Ready for some urgency? I’m teaming up with Len at Podia to offer a free online training: How to Launch a Profitable Online Course in 2018. The year may close to over, but you still have time to launch a profitable online course and head into 2019 set up for success. I also plan to offer a few door prizes for those who attend live.
Hope to see you there!