When you’re ready to launch for the first time, you want to go big…
But not so big that you mimic everything the launch pros are doing.
If you’ve been following along, you know that the strategies and tactics that work for the pros aren’t appropriate for you to use in your early-stage business.
So what can first-time course creators learn from the pros when it comes to launching their first course?
We sat down with 7 of the most successful course launch professionals in the industry, and asked them to share their wisdom with you.
Read on to learn more from these experts — and have a wildly successful first course launch.
Marisa Murgatroyd, Live Your Message
Marisa Murgatroyd is the founder of Live Your Message, where she turns entrepreneurs into Online Superheroes. At 4’11 and a quarter, she’s called the shortest woman in marketing — and that doesn’t stop her from having huge ideas. Marisa helps entrepreneurs create a business that is authentic and aligned with who they are, to empower them to turn up the dial on their “inner superhero”, so they can be the superhero to their tribe, as well as in their own lives.
After you test to make sure that your idea is viable (super important!) your course needs a really clear, specific focus. One of the best ways to have a clear product idea is to focus on what I call your “one sentence product mission”.
Define a really clear mission, goal, or outcome that your customer wants and that also seems possible to them — then people can visualize themselves doing the course, and getting the result. That’s going to inspire more people to sign up. Be super specific about how long it will take and how they’ll know when it’s done.
Most people create courses and information products that lack focus and try to do way too much. They go really wide with their topic and not deep enough. Because of this, they have trouble selling the product.
Homer (the Greek, not the Simpson) said “If you try to serve too many masters, you’ll soon suffer.”
The product mission from our Experience Product Masterclass is “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to design, market, and make at least $2000 from your experience product in 8 weeks or less.” The Masterclass launch was incredibly successful, with well over 350 students joining us.
Once you have your product mission statement you can beta test it with a smaller group before doing a big, elaborate product launch. Get it out there, test the market, and refine your idea — do what I call “earn while you learn and iterate your way to awesome.” Then you can gradually scale up to serving a bigger audience.
Grant Weherley is a course creation specialist, running a done-for-you online course production company. He has produced courses for experts and brands in dozens of industries. You can read his step-by-step guide and case study for how to earn 30k in 5 days with your first online course, and also check out the Monetize Your Expertise Podcast.
Find an audience of >5,000 people.
A common struggle I see with many course creators is that they get super excited to build a course, then they release it without any kind of audience and… crickets.
If you can’t get your course in front of enough people, it doesn’t matter what else you do. Launching a course with a brand you just started to an email list of 150 people is an uphill battle (to say the least). This doesn’t mean you need to have a massive audience yourself — you can make up for having a modest email list by partnering with other brands who are willing to promote what you are building.
For example, you might consider partnering with a couple of affiliates, or have other brands add in bonus content to your course. Then they will likely want to promote it since it adds to their credibility.
I would recommend making sure you get it in front of at least 5,000 emails to ensure the highest chance of success. If you do a good job, you will get something like $2-5 per email which should make it profitable from the very beginning.
Here’s a case study that walks you step-by-step through a highly profitable first course launch to a list of 6,000.
Beth Kempton, Do What You Love
Beth Kempton is founder of Do What You Love, which has supported thousands of people worldwide to take bold leaps into a life they truly love. She has produced and delivered online courses worth millions of dollars, that are frequently described as ‘life-changing’. Some of these she teaches herself, others she produces for other teachers. Creator of Reach Teach Profit: The E-course Creation Masterclass, Beth has seven years’ experience of online teaching, and is a champion of the flexibility and freedom that online teaching can offer to anyone, anywhere.
Don’t launch in a vacuum. Spend time building your mailing list before you launch, so you have a primed audience to share your course with.
Then offer them value in every newsletter so when the time comes to launch, they will be keen to learn more from you. And make it visually inspiring. Information rushes past us so fast these days, words alone are often not enough!
If possible include video in your launch — at least use some imagery, even if that is just a photo of yourself.
Joseph Michael is a top-notch trainer and coach who helps people replace or surpass their current incomes while enjoying a more flexible and fulfilling lifestyle. He has mastered the art of teaching online while also developing non-sleazy marketing techniques responsible for bringing in 17,236+ student enrollments into his courses. His most recent course, Easy Course Creation, helps people package their knowledge into something they can be proud of and known for.
I believe in something I call “selling backwards.” I like to start where most people finish — I write the sales letter before creating a single course lesson.
This forces you to do two things:
- Know your target audience inside and out, and
- Know exactly what you’re going to teach.
When you start here, 99% of the time you realize that you don’t know enough about your target audience and it forces you research and dig deeper. You should be able to write a page out of your ideal customer’s diary.
I recommend a technique to my students called the “So That” technique. It basically answers the question, “Why does someone want my course?”
Take my Learn Scrivener Fast course for example:
People want to Learn Scrivener Fast SO THAT….they can become a more prolific writer and have their words read by hundreds or even thousands of people.
The most important part comes after the SO THAT — you only find that wording through research. Try to write down at least 20 phrases that people are actually saying and then use those phrases in your sales letter when you launch. If done right potential customers will say “It’s like he read my mail” and conversion rates will go through the roof!
Melissa Anzman, Launch Yourself
As a certified executive coach and launch coachsultant, Melissa Anzman helps people launch profitable businesses and get products in the hands of their customers. People come to her when they’re ready to take action, unlock their purpose, and start making more money. She started Launch Yourself to help people put their dreams into action and take their lives and work to the next level.
First-time course creators should thoroughly test their course idea before going big with their launch. To start testing your course idea, listen to what your current customers are asking you about, what your market is talking about, what new books are out there, and which blog posts are popular.
In order to have a successful launch, you need to have a course that people want — and the easiest way to do that is to be sure your course solves a very specific pain point, and does so with actual results.
Think small with your course design — don’t try to solve everything at once. Instead, go deep and solve one thing really well.
Danny Iny, Mirasee
Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is the founder of Mirasee, host of the Business Reimagined podcast, best-selling author of multiple books including Engagement from Scratch!, The Audience Revolution, and Teach and Grow Rich, and creator of the acclaimed Audience Business Masterclass and Course Builder’s Laboratory training programs, which have together graduated over 4,000 value-driven online entrepreneurs.
The biggest lever for success that first-time course creators are afraid to pull is the willingness to stumble and scrape your knees in public. So many people live in fear that if something goes even the least bit wrong, their credibility and career will somehow be over.
But the truth is that if you’re willing to be open and vulnerable with your audience and students – and let them see when things are still in the ‘pilot’ phase – they’ll not only cut you more slack, but also lean in and invest more of themselves in helping to make it a great course with you.
They’ll go from being passive consumers to active partners, and that’s when the real magic happens.
Anne Samoilov is a full-time mom, business and launch strategist whose main goal in life is to simplify the so-called complex and difficult steps to achieving your dreams into simple, actionable steps. She’s also the creator of the White Space Solution book and creator of the revolutionary online training program Fearless Launching.
One of the best ways to get people tuned in to what you’re creating and to make sure you’re creating something that people want and will buy… is to include those people in the creation process.
This might look like you sharing behind-the-scenes images, sending out surveys, asking one-off questions in Facebook groups, doing live broadcasts on Periscope, Facebook Live, or maybe even Snapchats, and then reaching out to specific people you suspect are the ideal customers for your course!
Your goal is to enlist your audience to be co-creators of your course — since it is for them in the first place. Be willing to create something piece by piece based on what they need and want. It’ll make the course that much easier to create and even easier to launch!
Steal these ideas
So there you have it. Seven experts, all sharing their best tips for ensuring a successful first launch.
From validating your course idea to co-creating the course with your audience, the advice they shared has a lot of overlap — because they know what really works!
We loved getting this group of course launch pros together, and we hope that you’ll find at least one piece of wisdom that you can take home and implement.
So let us know in the comments: what was your favorite piece of advice? What can you take and implement in your course launch process today that will move you one step closer to success?