In my last post I wrote about what creating an e-course has meant for my business and the joys it has brought. In today’s post I want to share what I have learned, what my big wins were and what my mistakes were. I hope that my insights will help you create your own e-course success.
It takes longer than you think it will
When I started my business, I didn’t know that I was going to create online training materials and so I wasn’t really prepared for what it would take. I started with a rough outline of what I wanted participants to learn, how I wanted them to feel and how I could deliver it. I used my formal education in training and assessment to put a learning plan and structure together but I didn’t know how much time it was going to take me to create all the materials.
Lesson 1, it takes much longer than you think it will to create an e-course. Once you have written your content you’re not done. Because I have design experience and I didn’t have a budget to outsource, I designed all the workbooks and accompanying materials myself which took a substantial amount of time. On top of that I also recorded welcome videos and instructional videos which added quite some time to the development stage. You also need to factor in the setup of a sales page and/or website, building your email marketing list, setting up a secure membership site (optional), writing all the launch and course emails and having a launch plan for your e-course. There’s probably something I forgot, but trust me when I say that it takes a lot of planning and a lot of implementing. I now know to at least double the time I think it’s going to take me.
Create before launching
For my second e-course I decided to launch before it was ready, which means that I was often creating the materials one or two weeks before they were meant to go live in my membership site. While it is doable and plenty of people do it this way, it added a lot of stress and I don’t recommend doing it this way unless you are completely comfortable with the process. I won’t be doing this again as it made things really stressful for me and if I had gotten sick things would have gone pear shaped.
Have a solid list building strategy
I have always had a strong focus on list building and I’ve been doing it since I started my business. This is not so much a lesson but more some advice for you. For both of my launches I created a free video series and promoted this through Facebook advertising (handy that I teach this) as well as other avenues. I also have a general list building strategy at all times, so that I am constantly growing my community. There are statistics that will tell you that approximately 1-2% of you list will convert to buyers and I think this depends on your list and how engaged they are, how much they need what you have to offer and probably some other factors. I didn’t quite reach this percentage, more like 0.5% which teaches me further lessons in list building, launch strategy, optimising sales pages and putting myself out there.
Have a budget
As with any marketing activity you need to set a budget (and stick to it). When I launched my e-course I set a budget for Facebook advertising, web hosting, the URL and my leadpages subscription but I didn’t put any amount on my time which was a big mistake. Until now I still don’t know how much time I actually took to create everything and whether it would have been more cost effective to outsource it.
In terms of my Facebook advertising budget, this was quite high and I grew my list quite a lot but it didn’t result in as many conversions as I’d hoped. I know it’s important to remember that some people take a few rounds before they decide to sign up to something, but I was a bit disappointed when the numbers didn’t work out. Now I’m factoring in that my previous ad budget will stretch further than just the two launches I’ve done, since many people are still on my list.
Create a launch plan
I love planning and creating a launch plan was fun but also quite daunting. I’m a visual person so I mapped out all elements of my e-course launch which is quite extensive. Ideally you want promote your lead magnet (a.k.a. opt-in gift) for at least 3-4 weeks and then head in to an early bird period if this is what you decide to do for your course. During this launch period you need to constantly be promoting and reminding people on social media, your email list, in groups etc. It can be quite daunting and I think that I wasn’t doing enough of it. Next time I will do more on social media, more with my email list, more in groups, more on periscope and I might even overcome my fear of running a webinar. It’s totally ok to remind people and be active in as many places as possible.
Be detached from the outcome
I’m not usually someone to constantly refresh my PayPal account to see who signed up next but during my first launch I was nervous, wondering why nobody had signed up after one day, getting scared that nobody wanted what I was offering, contemplating making changes, offering more bonuses etc. but I stuck to my guns and let the early bird run its course and then the normal sales period and low and behold I had a lovely group of 5 join me in my first round. It’s important to step away and not let getting sales take over your entire life. It’s even more important not to make any changes during your launch, especially not in your pricing. I would have felt really bad if I’d signed someone up at the full rate and then a day later dropped the price, I’m glad I stuck to my rates.
Know the numbers
As I mentioned before, approximately 1-2% of your list will convert but don’t be obsessed about these numbers. I was hoping for a 1% conversion but only got about 0.5% the first time I launched which made me feel like my launch was a bit of a failure. I now know that it wasn’t the case and I’ve learned so much since that first launch. Having 5 wonderful participants in my course was absolutely fantastic. It’s important to not get blind-sided by the promotion and promises of 5 and 6 figure launches. A good program, and a good launch takes time to build especially if you’re new to business. I launched my first course before I had been around for 12 months, so my course did really well factoring in that I’m not a household name (yet!).
Give it your all
Whether you have 1 person or 20 sign up, make sure that you give your participants your all. Deliver the most amazing experience to them. I try to be present in my Facebook group every day, I am always available for questions, I’ve had skype chats with my participants and I give them my all. If my group was bigger, it would be harder for me to do this so enjoy having a small group, at least at the start and give them your all so that they become your raving fans.
At the end of your launch, whether you have lots of participants or an intimate group, make sure that you celebrate. You have come a long way and it’s such an intense journey. I stressed a lot which meant I basically collapsed straight after my launch period so it was very handy that I had automated a lot of things so I could actually take some time to look after myself. It’s also a good idea to not plan a launch straight after you finish up the first round of your e-course just so that you can take stock, evaluate how it went and learn from what you have just been through. I made this mistake and I won’t do back to back launches anymore, I’m going to only launch once or twice a year and celebrate with a glass of bubbly and cuddles with my man and the pups.
Creating and launching e-courses is a big thing, especially if it’s your first round.
Take your time and plan everything out before you dive in. I hope my lessons help you in your e-course creation and launch. I have to let you in on my e-course secret though… I couldn’t have done such a great job if I hadn’t been part of an amazingly supportive community with access to valuable resources and expert trainers.
I joined the e-course launch formula in 2014 and I can truly say that it has helped me so much in putting all the puzzle pieces together. The course content is extremely comprehensive, I hadn’t seen anything like it before, the Facebook forum is extremely helpful for when you have questions or when you’re looking for collaborations and when you join the course you have lifetime access, so I go through the course every time I create a new e-course or update a current one.
If you’ve been toying with the idea of creating leveraged income from e-courses I highly recommend joining Kathryn’s course.
I am a proud affiliate of Kathryn’s program and I may receive a commission if you decide to join.