How Do I Create and Sell Online Courses?
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I got this question from Lauren. She asks:
“How do I create and sell an online course?”
I LOVE this question because finally — after years of getting requests to teach people how to create and sell online courses — I can give a good answer.
I’ll be totally honest with you. If you asked me this question a few years ago, I would’ve refused to answer it.
The reason: I had the same question!
Back then, I just launched my first online course, which generated about $600,000.
I was ecstatic, but in that launch, I discovered all kinds of weird and interesting findings that I couldn’t explain.
For example, I generated 80% of my revenue from 4% of my subscribers.
So while I kept getting requests to teach people how to create and sell online courses, I refused to talk about it. At least until I could get to the bottom of these unanswered questions myself.
Since then, we’ve gone on to create more than 18 successful courses, and I can confidently and candidly give you a good answer to this question.
While I can’t cover all the details in this short blog post, I can give you an overview of the 3 most important steps to follow when creating and selling your first online course.
Step 1: Find out what people really want to buy
Online courses are incredibly powerful. They’re one of the few businesses you could start tomorrow — on a super-tight budget — and do incredibly well with.
If you have a few dollars for a domain name, and the right systems to get traffic and sales, you can share your knowledge, skills, and passions with the world.
Obviously, I’m simplifying. A lot goes on between buying a domain name and selling your first course.
But it’s a lot easier than most people think.
Most people think you need fancy technology or to spend $5,000 to make your site look cool. That’s not true.
If you start off thinking about technology, pricing, and design, you’re forgetting about the most important part of a business…the CUSTOMERS.
The first step to creating and selling an online course is to listen to your readers.
Find out what they really want. What problems do they have? What challenges do they face every day?
If you don’t have a lot of readers yet, that’s the first place to start. Here are some of the best strategies we’ve found to send a lot of traffic to your site — without a ton of work.
Step 2: Blue-Sky Brainstorm the perfect solution
Once you understand your readers’ biggest problems and pains, then you can start brainstorming the perfect solution to their problems.
We call this Blue-Sky Brainstorming. You get the chance to explore a ton of ideas and see what could work.
No ideas are off the table. In fact, we encourage you to come up with crazy, ideal solutions. That’s where breakthroughs happen in the products you build.
For example, we Blue-Sky Brainstormed our perfect solution with a course we built called Find Your Dream Job. That was our dream solution to a huge problem our readers faced: changing their jobs and/or getting a raise.
We included everything we could conceivably think of as part of our dream solution: It has teardowns, word-for-word scripts, sample resumes, tips on networking, and more.
That course went on to generate millions of dollars in sales. You can do the same.
When you solve a burning pain for your readers, your course will fly off the shelves. It’s like how if you wake up in the middle of the night with a throbbing toothache, what are you going to do? You’re going to go straight to the dentist and do whatever they say.
When you create your product, the biggest thing to think about is: What’s the burning pain that people have? And what’s their dream solution? If you can nail those down, you’re 90% of the way to a successful course.
Step 3: Start with a simple product
When it comes to product format, it can be as simple as a PDF.
In fact, we have a product called “50 Proven Email Scripts“. It’s a collection of the best emails to send in different situations: how to get the attention of busy people, how to follow up, networking scripts, you name it.
We launched this product as a simple PDF and charged $197 for it.
To some, this seems crazy. “$197 for an ebook!? WTF?”
But here’s the thing: People love it. They don’t care about format because it solves a burning pain for people: “I hate writing every email from scratch and not knowing what to say.”
With this ebook, they can just scroll to the page they want, copy and paste the email, and hit send. Done.
We have students who’ve taken other simple approaches and seen great success.
For example, some use PowerPoint and add voiceover to some slides. And many of them have sold tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of these courses.
You don’t need tons of video or advanced design. Your format is honestly the least important part of your course. If you have a beautifully designed product about something nobody cares about, who is going to buy that?
So focus your attention where it really matters, and you can improve your format down the road.