Maybe you’ve been reading all the blog posts about course creation, but you still aren’t sure where to start. I’m giving you my step-by-step guide to help you create and sell an online course, all in one place!
Create and Sell an Online Course | Everything you need to know to get started
Want to watch a video version of this post? I’ve got you covered!
My income has come primarily from online courses for the past five years.
I’ve created more online courses than I can count, In the past five years, I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to how to create and sell an online course. Not to mention I transitioned from a service provider to a course creator back then too, so I have a LOT to say.
Let’s hit the basics first.
Can I create and sell an online course
I believe that anyone who is creating content online already absolutely has the authority and the knowledge to put together an online course that people will want to buy. Courses are a good step for any content creator to take, whether they become a major part of your business or they’re a gateway to another offer.
Additionally, if you’re a burned out service provider, courses can be a fantastic mechanism to transition out of that model!
Before we jump in, I have a really cool offer for you!
I created an EASY PEASY lemon squeezy course creation guide for you! It’s $47, and it gives you all the info you need to know about creating and launching a course. Plus, there are ClickUp, Trello, and Google Sheets templates to help you out. Click here to learn more!
You HAVE to have an audience to create and sell an online course
I hear people saying you don’t need an audience to sell a course all the time. But truthfully, you DO. If you don’t have an audience, who do you expect to buy the course?
You DON’T need a ginormous audience (or even a medium-sized one) to sell a course. But you need a group of people who want to buy the thing you’re selling. If you don’t have an audience, you’re going to be really disappointed come launch time when you don’t make sales.
(PS – that’s not to say you can’t start from zero now and build an audience quickly, because you can! You’ll see the option to grab my training for how to build an audience in 12 weeks if you decide to grab A Course in A Box – and that baby is full of gold.)
You have to promise and deliver TANGIBLE results from this course
You can teach fluff – and you definitely can’t sell fluff. People want tangible promises with tangible results. If you ask someone to buy a course from you about “how to better your mindset,” that’s a very abstract topic. Attach that concept to a TANGIBLE RESULT.
Instead of, “buy this course on how to better your mindset,” try, “buy this course to help change your mindset SO THAT you can go after the life you want.”
I see people try to sell fluff way too often and totally miss the mark. Even if they’re teaching tangible information in the course, if people don’t purchase they’ll have no way of knowing that!
Instead of “how to be a billionaire,” try, “how to become a billionaire by 25 years old with YouTube.” Tangible things sell! Fluff doesn't.
That means YOU need to be super clear on what you’re selling. If someone goes through your course, what result will they get at the end?
Get clear on WHO your ideal student is for this course
I’ve talked about niching down SO MUCH, this should be no surprise. Sometimes, I hear people say that niching down makes them feel like they’re excluding a whole other group of people who could maybe use their course. I get that feeling! But the truth is, when you sell to everybody, you sell to nobody.
So spend time getting clear on who your ideal student is for this course. Who is going to benefit and get the results you’re promising? If you don’t know the specific student who you’re talking to, then selling your course is going to be a DISASTER.
Maybe I want to create a course about how to get started with podcasting, but I target it at “all entrepreneurs.” That’s WAY too generalized. Every single person who wants to start a podcast wants to start it for a different reason. Someone wants it to be their hobby, someone else wants it as a piece of their funnel, this person prefers audio content to video. And each of those different people has a different expectation for the end result. If you try to create one course to help all of those people? None of them will likely see what they want to see.
Instead, I could niche my course to be “How to start a podcast that leads into your sales funnel and makes you money.” Then, I know exactly who I’m talking to and I can include the exact information they need in the course.
Create a runway before you launch so people are ready to buy
You can be 10 times more successful with a course launch if you create a runway that leads people into purchasing your course.
I see tons of people (and I’ve done it, too!) decide to create a course, finish the course, and then decide to run some ads two weeks before the course launches to a webinar and then sell the course.
That’s fine, and I’ve done it a ton. But you can prime and sell to your audience SO MUCH BETTER if you give yourself and your audience a lead-in to the launch.
You need to warm-up your audience and answer any questions they might have prior to selling. The best way to do that is to start SHIFTING YOUR CONTENT towards the person who wants to buy your course and the topic you want to talk about.
If I’m launching a course on how to start a podcast, then I would create videos on my YouTube channel made for the person looking for that course. Maybe I’d talk about how a podcast changed my business, how I use a podcast to support my business, or something else.
I recommend starting this content runway strategy 6-8 weeks prior to your launch.
This is the kicker – DON’T create the course until you’ve sold it
THIS is why this post isn’t about the software you should use to create a course. There are SO many reasons why you shouldn’t create the course until you’ve sold it.
If you’re preparing to create and sell an online course for the first time, you don’t know if it’s going to sell or if you’re marketing it correctly! You also haven’t had students go through the course before to know what their questions will be at each step along the way. Until you know what someone’s questions will be, you can’t fully finalize your course.
You need to know the content and the basic structure. You need a clearly defined ideal student, and you need an audience. But you do NOT need to build that course until you’re in it. And I know people aren’t telling you that.
Some of my most successful courses have been the ones that I created during time with my students. I was able to respond to their questions in real time with new modules and not have to backtrack.