I launched three courses in the last year, and it taught me a lot about creating an online course. In this post, I want to share 4 secrets I learned along the way. Hopefully, my successes and failures can save you some headache and heartache in creating an online course.

4 lessons I learned creating an online course

Lessons learned creating an online course

1. It’s not as hard as you think.

If you’re nervous about creating an online course, it’s probably because you’re overthinking it. Start small and easy; your goal is to learn about course creation, not make a ton of money. (If you do rake in cash—awesome bonus!)

What’s something that seems super simple to you, but for which others are always asking your help? That’s your first course topic.

In my case, it was LinkedIn. I get tons of leads from the site, so someone suggested I teach a masterclass and share my secrets. A ha! First course.

When you take this approach, you can create and launch a basic course in a day. Seriously (I’ve done it).

• Write the content
• Record audio or video (Easy option: Loom)
• Create a workbook or checklist (Easy option: Canva)
• Upload to a course-hosting platform (Easy option: Podia)
• Sell it (see #2)

2. It’s a lot harder than you think.

Creating an online course? Easy. Selling a course? H-A-R-D.

It’s easy to fall for hype on Instagram: A cute 20-something promising the 3 secrets to running a 7-figure business while you sip margaritas on the beach. Sounds divine.

It’s utter crap. She may as well sell you the secrets to picking winning lottery numbers.

“Passive income” is bullsh*t.

Yes, you can make money while you sit on the beach, but you’ll need your laptop with you because 99% of the work with courses comes after they’re made.

Unless you already have a giant following, you’ll spend most of your time trying to find ways to get your course in front of ideal buyers. That means writing guest blog posts, trying to get on podcasts, promoting in Facebook groups, tons of promoting on your own social media, etc.

It’s a lot of work, and don’t be fooled by the gurus making you believe otherwise.

3. Set realistic expectations. 

Don’t fall for the “5- or 6-figure launch” hype either.

To make $100,000 on a course, you need 1 buyer willing to pay $100,000 or 1,000 willing to pay $1,000. Either is mighty hard to find. Not impossible, of course, but really freaking hard.

There will always be the random person who catches lightning in a bottle and has a 5- or 6-figure launch with zero following and no email list. I hope you’re so lucky. Just know it’s exactly that — luck.

For 99.9% of us, course income is
directly related to the size of our following.

If your email list or social media following isn’t the size of Marie Forleo’s, Amy Porterfield’s, or Jenna Kutcher’s, you cannot expect to make as much as they make from courses. I don’t say this to discourage you, only to help you set realistic expectations.

Let me share my numbers. During the initial launch of my first course, I sold 39 seats for about $1,400. In the year since, I’ve made about $6,000 more on my two courses. That’s with an email list of less than 1,000 and a total social media reach of about 14,000. (My third course, Crush Your Goals, was free — the goal was new email subscribers, not income).

4. Evergreen is a hard sale.

It seems logical to let people buy your course at any time. It would dramatically reduce your income potential if you limit sales, right? Wrong.

I’ve learned that “evergreen” courses (those that are always available) are a much harder sell. People think, “oh, I can always come back for it later” so they wait. But later rarely comes because life happens and they forget all about your course.

About 90% of my sales happened during the initial launch of each of my courses. People purchased because:

1. I was actively promoting it
2. It was new and interesting
3. I offered an early-bird price

A few people still randomly purchase my courses, but I think it’s probably smarter to only sell your course a few times a year. People respond to scarcity, so sometimes you have to manufacture it. I’ll likely be shifting to this approach in 2019.

4 lessons I learned in the process of creating and selling my courses.

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