Launching online courses was the best thing I did for all my online business. I now launched over 10 online courses in various niches, and I learned a lot along the way. I did many mistakes as well, so I wanted to share in this article the 5 most important lessons that I learned while launching online courses. I hope it will help you avoid the mistakes I've made, and also motivate you to start your own online course!
Lesson #1: Always Validate Your Course Before Creating the Content
That's the number one lesson that I wanted to mention here, as it's the one that hurt me the most & also a mistake that I see people do over and over when starting an online course. I actually decided to launch a course following the success of one of my books about electronics. It was really clear to me that as people were already willing to pay for a $27 eBook, they would be ok to pay a bit more for a course at $97 on the same topic.
Well, I was wrong. I spent a month recording the course, with carefully recorded step-by-step videos showing people how to build the projects that were found in the book. Then I launched to my email list of over 7,000 people. And I made ... 2 sales. Epic fail. What I learned after the fact from the feedback of people is that on this particular topic, they actually preferred learning from a book as they were sure to be able to follow at their own pace with all the code included in the book, and they were not sure that the course would actually help. For this particular course, I solved the issue by giving away the course as a more expansive option of the book - and people were very happy with that.
The lesson I learned here is that you should always validate your course before creating the content. In the case of this course here, I just had to create a simple sales page for the course, and then send it to my audience to see how many people will buy the pre-sale of the course. I would have immediately know that launching this course on its own was a bad idea and that I should focus on other courses where the visual aspect of teaching was more important.
So please - always validate your courses before creating any bit of content - it will avoid you a lot of frustrations.
Lesson #2: Step-by-Step Systems are the Best Course Structure
While launching courses over the past years, I experimented with many different courses structures - from courses that just talk about a given topic, to courses that make a general inventory of the knowledge on a topic. Don't do those. What I found is that the structure that works the best is always step-by-step systems, where you take your audience through a transformation, from the starting point to the end where they get their desired result.
Not only do they work best for your students, but they also work great for marketing purposes, as coming up with the 'hook' of your course becomes easy (Get my step-by-step system to achieve [desired result]). It's also great for you to plan the structure of your course, as the structure comes naturally from the transformation that you want your students to go through.
Lesson #3: Allow the Students to Communicate and Give Feedback
When I released my first course, I have to admit that I was really not thinking about this aspect. I was used to selling eBooks, where the feedback was only possible via email after people bought the eBook. However, a course can and should be much more interactive. I really recommend using a course delivery platform that allows direct feedback from students inside the lessons of the course (for example SiteEngine 😇). This will allow you to not only get feedback on the course but also get a very direct communication with your students & allow you to improve the course in the future.
It's also very important to allow your students to help each other by creating a community. This can take many forms, the most common being a Facebook group as it's free, easy to use and quick to set up. However, I also learned that in some niches people actually prefer using good old forums, so make sure to provide that if it's the case for your niche.
Lesson #4: It Doesn't Stop at Launch
That's a lesson that I also learned the hard way. I truly believed after the launch of my first course that I'd just put it out there, tell my audience, and that people will find it and just buy. And that I will never have to work on it again. True passive income. Well, the reality is very far from that.
First, you need to plan some time after the course to actually answer questions from your students, and also update your course over time. Indeed, in nearly all niches your course material will become less and less up-to-date over time, and you'll need to plan some time as well to re-do some parts of the course to keep it relevant for your students. That's all ok and I for example really enjoy helping out students and updating my courses, but it's just something you have to take into account when launching a course.
Also, your marketing efforts are actually only getting started when launching a course. What I learned by launching all those courses is that the most important part of the marketing/sales actually comes after the course. Indeed, people won't just come to your course and enroll, especially if it's a higher priced course. I know from the courses I launched that I actually left a lot of money on the table because I spent all this time to build this super cool online, but didn't spend enough to actually market the course and grow the revenues.
Lesson #5: Plan From Start to Finish
The last lesson that I wanted to share here is to always plan your course launch (and what happens after) from start to finish, before you create any kind of content or before you even create the outline of the course. This will allow you to precisely know what you have to do and when, and not just plan 'as it goes' when you record your course. Plan everything, including creating marketing material for your course, creating the outline, and scaling up your marketing after the course is live. Otherwise, I know from experience that it's easy to delay the course further and further and it ends up taking months to launch a course.
A great way to actually do that and motivate you, even more, is to actually announce the launch of your course to your audience. This way, you'll have no choice but to actually deliver your online course on time & to stick to your calendar.
You Should Really Start Your Own Course!
I hope that those lessons were useful for you! Launching online courses over the years (and I'm far from done!) was really an exciting experience, and it allowed me to help my audience in ways that I could never do just with blog articles or with eBooks. Therefore, I really encourage you to consider launching your own online course if it makes sense for the niche you have in mind. Not only it will allow you to help your audience in the best way possible, but also it will mean more revenue for you as courses are usually sold at a higher price point. Of course, if you have any questions about launching your own online course, feel free to leave them below!