Ahhhhh online courses.
The darling child of the online world.
Your instant win, passive income generator, early retirement fund solution.
Put together a course. Sell it. Make millions. Never have to work again.
Appealing isn’t it?
The thing is.... it doesn’t work like that.
I have a lot of clients come to me at the very start of their wellness business journeys.
They’ve just qualified and they’re utterly convinced that the first thing they need to put on their website is.... an online course.
Now as a coach I don’t like to tell people they’re wrong.
But I’ve been there. And it didn’t end well.
I launched a course last year and made some pretty basic mistakes I wouldn’t want other people to make.
I’ll cover the mistakes in a separate blog but for now I want to focus on what you should be doing first, in order to make sure your course launch is a raving success and not a massive flop.
Here’s what I should have been doing instead of launching a course:
1. Work one-to-one with clients
Before you rush into doing anything for the mass market, you need to focus on getting more skilled at working 1:1 with clients.
It’s only from this basis that you’ll learn what people are struggling with and how you can come up with something that answers a common problem that you’ll see people bring to you time and time again.
You’ll also learn more quickly what you like doing and what you like teaching and sharing with others.
Can you imagine designing a course that you thought last month was the absolute bees-knees but quickly realise when you’re selling it (or even delivering it) that it bores you to tears or actually isn’t helping your clients with their issues?
That would suck.
Working with one-to-one clients is where you can learn, test and discover more about yourself as well as what others need from you.
2. Grow your audience
Don’t have any followers on social media? Don’t have a mailing list? Don’t have a network of absolutely hundreds of perfect clients already in the bag?
Don’t launch a course.
Before you launch anything at all you need to focus on growing an audience that will be ready to buy from you. And that means building know/like/trust with as many people as possible, priming them ready for the point when you’ll want to launch something awesome to help them, in the shape of a course.
Did you know that the typical conversion rate for your online audience is only 1-2%?
That means of all the people following you on social media or subscribed to your mailing list, only 1-2% of them will actually purchase.
That’s why it’s so important to grow an audience before you’ve got something big like a course to sell.
Growing an audience is all about building genuine relationships with ideal potential customers. And that takes time, my friend. We don’t trust total strangers overnight.
We typically need online anywhere between 7 and 12 ‘touch points’ before we buy. That means seeing someone’s valuable content, watching them speak at an event, hearing them recommended by someone else, receiving their emails and just generally seeing them consistently being helpful and present, before we open up our purses.
Grow that audience before unleashing the big guns. You’ll have more people to sell to that way.
There are more resources about how to do this specifically on Instagram in this video and set of resources,
There’s more about growing an engaged audience online in this podcast episode.
3. Do market research
Points 1 and 2 on this list are actually forms of market research, but you can definitely go deeper too.
There is absolutely no point launching a product of any type whatsoever if you’ve done no market research.
If there is actually no need or desire for your product, who the hell is going to buy it?
Working 1:1 with clients has been my best way of discovering what people actually need from me. I get to hear first hand the biggest problems they’re struggling with and when I see these issues crop up continuously, a big light bulb goes on for me that I need to create a resource / blog post / short video / course (!?) about this topic.
Equally chatting to people online that aren’t necessarily clients (yet) is a massive mine of information when it comes to finding what people need.
Doing polls on Instagram Stories and in my Facebook group, asking questions in direct message conversations or just generally seeing what people are chatting about on social media and at networking events really gets me thinking about what I can create to help.
It’s very easy, particularly as health and wellness experts, to think we know what people need.
We think people need help getting stronger bones, or eating more vegetables or losing weight.
But that usually isn’t the nub of the issue and you only get to that nub and find out what language they’re using, by talking to people.
Market research for me in my business hasn’t meant paying someone or outsourcing to get me ‘data.’ It’s about talking 1:1 with people and making notes (constantly!) of problems, issues and struggles that I can help with.
Only armed with that information are you going to create an online course that truly has value.
What do you think? Does this make you stop in your tracks with the idea of launching an online course? What will you be doing first?