How to Create and Sell Your First Online Course
So you’re thinking about creating an online course?
YAY, great choice. I’ve got some tried and tested secrets to share with you on creating a profitable course from scratch.
There has never been a better time to be an online entrepreneur. The tools we have available to us are pretty amazing (and cheap) and make an online business so achievable. You can teach what you know to people all around the world, and get paid well for it too.
But before you jump in, I’ve got some advice and cautionary tales for you, because trust me, it’s an … interesting journey. There are very low barriers to entry but it’s not “effortless”. It takes a lot of work and courage.
Creating Passive Income in a Million Dollar Business
But obviously I’m a huge advocate, because courses form the bulk of my multi-million dollar business.
There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to reach and support a global audience without leaving your house (and often without even putting on a bra!).
Creating my money mindset course – Money Bootcamp was a game-changer for my business. Years ago, I reached six figures from private coaching. I knew that I had hit a plateau with my time and energy. Maybe you’re feeling the same?
Back then, I was coaching from the crack of dawn to midnight to accommodate global time zones. The idea of working twice as hard to double my income made me want to cry.
Does this resonate?
Have you reached the limit of your personal capacity and you want to start leveraging your time?
You can do this gorgeous! It’s time to create passive income in your business.
For me, when I found myself coaching clients in my dreams, I knew I’d reached a crucial need for upgrade!
It was time to create a course, and get some of that sweet passive income action. Plus, I figured if I ever wanted to take a vacation, I’d need another way to make money that didn’t require my personal time and attention.
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Dealing with Resistance and Money Blocks Around Passive Income
I was rapidly turning into a workaholic, but I’ll be honest, I had a lot of resistance to creating a course, and maybe you do too.
It’s really common to feel a mix of longing and apprehension. Creating a course seems to bring up a lot of “stuff” for entrepreneurs. Creating a passive income stream will probably bring up all your old money blocks. You’ll take procrastination to new heights!
Lots of people START out creating a course, but very few actually take one to market.
Here’s the good news – your first course doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Nobody starts out with thousands of participants – and trust me – it would cause havoc if you did!
There’s a reason why most of us experience gradual growth – organic growth helps us uplevel our mindset and systems at each stage of the journey.
In course creation, there’s definitely a lot of tech know-how, set up costs and planning involved – not to mention the learning curve while you’re delivering it.
Oh, and don’t forget the customer service. You’ll receive emails about password resets (often multiple times from the same people), tech issues will crop up where people can’t see the videos or don’t know how to download something properly.
If you don’t have the capacity for that (for example, an assistant) then it can quickly become a nightmare. Believe me – it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve checked and re-checked everything, people will find typos (and they’ll let you know!)
So, it’s okay to start small, and grow from there as long as you START.
My very first group course had 4 people in it. We had audio and PDF assignments every week, live coaching calls and a Facebook group.
There was a huge, steep learning curve to get to the point now where I have 10,000 people in my courses.
That doesn’t happen overnight!
CREATING YOUR OWN PASSIVE INCOME STREAM FROM SCRATCH
So – should YOU focus on creating a course or doing 1:1 work with clients right now?
My advice varies depending on where you are in business right now. Select the stage you’re at below.
1) Advice for New Entrepreneurs on Creating a Course
If you have a really small list and you aren’t earning much money yet, then it can be tricky to create a course and make immediate money out of it. Sure, you CAN work on a course, but who are you going to sell it to?
It’s disheartening for new entrepreneurs to realize that a normal sales page conversion is 1%. You could spend lots of time and energy creating a course, but then feel like quitting when nobody buys it.
There’s nothing more tragic than feeling like a failure, when it’s not YOU, it’s the reality of playing a numbers game. (I’m not saying that your clients are numbers, it’s just that it’s not personal that people aren’t buying. You can’t overcome statistics with passion – that’s just one part of it.)
When people tell me that they’ve poured their heart and soul into something, and then are devastated that it “failed” – I know that they’ve missed a fundamental part of being in business. An amazing product is paramount – but you have to have people to SELL it to.
Honestly, it’s not just list size. You might not have a good, viable idea yet, or you’re really in a practice business while you figure out your true calling.
Maybe you don’t have any idea what your clients really want, you haven’t nailed your niche down and the learning curve is super high, so you keep getting stumped on small tech things because you’re learning it all yourself.
Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Googling code at 3am is no fun!
So should you create a course if your business is really just starting? I’m not saying no – I’d just have extremely realistic expectations about the amount of work it will take, and when it will start earning money.
It’s not a get rich quick project. Sure, there are people in business who have done it super quick, and it’s usually because they’ve moved through the procrastination and resistance quickly and have been willing to invest money (like for example in Facebook ads) before they reap the reward.
So be honest – do you have a big enough network to sell it to?
When you’re starting out in business, focus on:
- List building, low hanging fruit, getting experience
At this stage, you’re better off creating a few free resources so you can grow your list. These people are your future course participants.
For example – run free webinars on topics that interest your potential audience – you can always repurpose them later for free opt-ins.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if hardly anyone attends these live. The purpose is to PRACTICE. Get used to the technical hurdles, get used to talking about your topic, nail a few talking points.
Also – get more clients, even if they’re free or in exchange for testimonials. Start building your tools and techniques with real people, this will form the basis for your paid course in the future, and you’ll have a better understanding of their problems and frequently asked questions.
2) Advice for More Experienced Entrepreneurs on Creating a Course
By now your list size is growing, and you probably have a solid idea about your strengths and offerings as an entrepreneur. You don’t have to have a perfect niche but it’s pretty clear what you can help people with.
Now it can be hard to find the time to create a course when you’re busy being IN your business, servicing clients or doing “done for you”, but this is a short time sacrifice for potentially large rewards.
If you’re running out of time because you’re getting booked out or you’ve hit a natural income ceiling, then you have two choices.
- Drastically raise your prices, or
- Create passive income sources.
If you know that doing 1:1 work isn’t necessarily your zone of genius long term, then passive income is the way to go.
Start Planning Your Online Course
So start planning out your course now. You’re never going to have the spare time unless you suck it up, and create it for the future.
Then as your course income increases, you can cut back on the 1:1 work or raise your prices without worrying that you’ll lose all your clients.
You might also be tempted to write a book as a passive income source, but trust me, it’s probably quicker to create a course than to write a whole book (unless you’re a super-fast writer), and you can charge a lot more for a course!
For example – it took me around 9 months to write each of my two books – and I can only charge around $10-15 for them. You can create a course in much less time and charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for it.
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When you’re more experienced in your business and industry, focus on:
- Capturing your knowledge, leveraging your current resources, carving out time to make it happen
Dip your feet in by creating a small course – it doesn’t have to be heavily involved or complicated. If you’re feeling brave, you can sell the course and create it as you develop it.
Lots of people freak out about that, but as long as you have an outline, with very clear outcomes and you’re confident in your material, you can tweak things in real time as your participants are going through it. (Only do this if you’re willing to completely clear your calendar, and potentially have a few late nights!)
An alternative is to run a group coaching course, teaching a small-medium sized group with the tools and techniques you’d usually share with your 1:1 clients.
If you add lots of interactive elements like live group coaching and Q&A sessions, you can repurpose these for later when the course is more involved.
Should you run a Beta course first?
I don’t always recommend running a Beta course. For one, the name itself implies that you don’t know what you’re doing, and your customers are usually in critique mode rather than participant mode.
Most people don’t set up a really stringent process for getting testimonials, so often don’t really get anything out of it anyway.
I recommend offering a first course at an “Introductory rate” instead of running a Beta version, so you get real clients, but a cheaper intro rate can take the pressure off somewhat.
Each time you run the course, you can improve it using the feedback you gain from participants. You’ll learn more about the problems your clients are facing, and you’ll be able to build a bank of resources like FAQs and tools to improve the course further.
My Money Bootcamp has been through major renovations every 2 years and keeps getting better.
My biggest advice is not to start new courses all the time – refine what you know and get really well known for it.
The focus can be a hard discipline for creative entrepreneurs but you can innovate around the core course curriculum and keep it interesting and fresh for your squirrel brain!
Take the First Steps in Creating an Online Course
You need to do an inventory of all your knowledge, tools, techniques and resources. Get it ALL down! Then sort this into a 6-8 week curriculum.
Don’t jam too much information in or you’ll overwhelm your participants.
Then figure out how you’re going to present it – over video, audio, live classes, etc.
Map out everything you need to create and tick it off. You’ll also need a marketing/launch plan.
FIVE STEPS TO CREATING AN ONLINE COURSE
Here’s the five stages of creating your own passive income stream.
- Do an inventory of everything you know and teach
- Sort this knowledge into a 6-8 week curriculum
- Decide on presentation method
- Plan a marketing/launch campaign
- Deal with the money blocks that are going to come up around creating passive income
Obviously, there is a lot to think about, and I’d really recommend finding a mentor to help. If mindset, pricing and giving yourself permission to succeed is what you need, then come join us in Bootcamp.
My ultimate advice is to just do it!
Affirm to yourself:
Within the next year, I will get all the valuable info out of my head and into the hands of the people who need and want it - my potential customers.
It’s your time and you’re ready for the next step.
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