Here’s why this is important: Launching an online course may seem like a great way to generate income, but have you done the groundwork to ensure you are adding value for your clients?
Last year I launched an online course through my blog The Flourishing Pantry.
And that was despite spending hours filming and editing the content, paying for a platform to host the course, buying a domain name and then promoting the course through Instagram, Facebook and to my email list.
Online courses can seem like an easy-win, quick passive income generator. But the reality is that a lot of work needs to go in first before you hit on one that works.
I want to share with you the mistakes I made with this online course launch to make sure you don’t do the same.
As a little bit of context: the course I designed last year was called ‘The Capsule Collective.’ The concept was helping people create a kitchen full of key ingredients that would help them make healthy meals, and then showing them a simple recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner using those foods.
This idea had sprung from my e-book which I’d created for my blog. And the concept largely came from the idea that anyone can be an ‘infopreneur.’
What’s an Infopreneur?
It’s the idea that the information (info) that you think is obvious, comes naturally and is part of your routine, may well be brand new and life-changing information for someone else. So you can package that knowledge up and sell it.
So last year, before I’d trained as a coach, I thought perhaps this was it. My blog was all I had to make me money, and the things I thought were obvious (stocking my kitchen with whole foods and making simple recipes) could now become my source of income! Amazing!
I just came up with the idea in my own head, decided it was a good one with zero data or conversations to back it up, and just ploughed on with creating the course.
Market research might feel like a waste of time. What happens if someone else has your amazing idea too? You need to be quick and get this out there!
Market research might also feel really cringy and awkward. What happens if people say your idea is rubbish? Or it’s not what they need? Or actually that there’s something much more pressing for them that they’d like your help with? Or a better way of delivering that information?
I never talked to anyone about whether they wanted or needed what I was going to offer. I just put my head down and created it anyway.
That was a massive mistake. And if you read my blog post about what you should do before launching an online course, all three of my tips are basically market research and market led.
I’ve put this as number two in my mistakes because it is just as fundamental as market research.
And so if I didn’t think the course was good, useful and valuable – how the hell was anyone else going to?
If I have learned nothing from the last year running my own business it’s that belief is everything. You simply have to believe in yourself and your ability to help people.
While I get in principle the concept of being an ‘infopreneur’ and selling what you think is obvious, you have to actually believe that your product is going to really change and help people.
Because if you don’t, they won’t either.
I have talked and developed a lot in the last year with regard to how I feel about sales. And last year when I launched this course, I was not comfortable at all with asking people for money for what I offered (very much related to point 2 around belief in the value of my product as well).
One thing I did when I was launching the course was share it in a few Facebook groups. A scathing piece of feedback I received was that I had written the sales page, which was very compelling and drew people in, but only right at the very bottom had I tucked away that there was a charge for the course. This was seen as disingenuous and not very transparent.
The trouble was, because I didn’t believe in the value of the course and I felt uncomfortable about selling it, I tried to hide that there was a charge. Rather than embracing and putting front and centre that what I offered came at a price because it was worth it.
This is the real kicker when it comes to online courses and I spoke about in my blog post about what to do first if you’re thinking about launching an online course.
My shift in the last 18 months was a personal one, but it massively impacted my ability to sell products online. And it was this:
My audience was never asking me about how to be healthy. They never asked me how to make recipes or how to stock their kitchen. As much as I was passionate and excited about being in the kitchen, I very very rarely got asked about how to make recipes or live a healthier life.
How did I start a blog?
How do I work with brands?
How do I use Pinterest to get traffic to my website?
And do you know what? These were the questions I actually enjoyed answering. These were the people I was helping the most.
So of course, in hindsight, it is obvious for me to see: this course for stocking your cupboards for healthy eating wasn’t what my audience wanted from me at all. This wasn’t what they knew me for or came to me needing. So they were never going to buy it from me.
As a combination of all these factors: not having done market research, seeing no value in the course, feeling awful about selling and basically having no obvious audience to sell it to, the marketing felt seriously, toe-curlingly awful when I faced it.
One valuable thing I did learn and has stayed with me since launching this course was designing a marketing plan (something I have been asked to share and will do in the coming weeks in case you are launching an event, course or programme).
But the way I planned the marketing meant I scheduled all the promotion so I didn’t have to do it ‘actively.’
I was never really present. I wasn’t visible. I hid behind pre-written slides on my Instagram Stories, or scheduled emails. I rarely came on live to discuss it and when I did I never pre-warned anyone I was going to do it and I self-sabotaged by picking days and times I knew no-one would catch me.
And if you are selling a course, you need to be with it 100%. There, visible, available for questions and talking about it non-stop because you’re bursting with pride and excited to help people.
If you feel anything less than that, it’s going to be hard to be present with the marketing and as a result, hard to convert passive watchers into buyers.
So there we have it. 5 mistakes I made launching my first online course.
Not a course. Yet. I will definitely get there, but I have a lot more market research to do, experience to gain and audience to build before I’m ready to launch the one I’m proud of.
What about you? Have you made any of these mistakes? Leave me a comment or drop me a message so I know I’m not alone!
BACK TO THE BLOG