One of the most common questions I hear from entrepreneurs is, “how do I launch an online course?”

Many people have done all of the other steps and have truly developed a higher level of expertise in their niche, but this final step is something that people tend to struggle with because of its technical nature.

Of course, putting your hard-earned knowledge onto a teaching platform like Udemy or Teachable online courses seems easy, but you need first to make sure that you’ve secured an audience that will spend their cash on your material.

Performing actions like building an email list, audience engagement on social media, and conducting market research are all critical when you’re approaching the launch stage.

In this guide, which is part of a series of posts that will show you the nuts and bolts of entering the world of online learning, I will show you how to approach the final stages and launch your online courses.

Before You Start: Have the Content Ready to Go

Before you consider the launch stage, definitely have at least the basics of the site ready to go.

Once you launch, you can use student feedback to develop your site more fully, but you’ll at least need the nuts and bolts to be in full working order before you attempt a launch of your online course programs.

A good rule of thumb states that you should have an email list ready and about 20 percent of the content you’ll make available to your students.

Why 20 percent? Well, you want your prospective students to get a good impression of what they can expect of your site.

This will provide a sort of “things to create and sell,” and student feedback will grant you a strong basis for what you’ll be presenting for future students.

The sales page on your site is essential; it’ll show students a bit of what you’re selling and generate pre-sale revenue.

Work on your messaging; this will also draw in people who have expressed interest.

The email list bolsters this. This list is a collection of the first wave of potential students.

These students have already expressed interest in learning from you and using your knowledge, and these people are integral to your growth as an educational brand.

How to Create an Online Training Course and Launch in 9 Steps

Step One: Line Up Your Customers Ahead of Time

Line Up Your Customers Ahead of Time
As a general rule, launching a course from scratch without a preset audience will make the process very difficult for you.
In my experience, it’s a good idea to know what customers are ready to purchase your online course before you even consider launching it.

Success requires strategizing and deep thought. Who would be most interested in a course of this type? Is there a demand? What are competitors doing in the same vertical?

Creating a launch strategy with a preset group of customers is absolutely critical.

Steps to Take:

  • Google other businesses working in your niche
  • Do market research to determine your ideal customer
  • Find out how customer needs are not being met

Step Two: Work on that Email List

An email list is a modern way to build an audience; everyone has an email these days, right?
As I mentioned, having an audience to sell to is one of the most critical steps in this whole launch process, so be ready to hit the ground running.
Before you even craft online coursework, start with building an email list of proposed students.

Steps to Take:

  • Work on your audience and craft an email list

Step Three: Create a Lead Magnet and Drive Traffic to It

People respond easily to giveaways. For this reason, you should create a lead magnet that will offer those who express interest in your course a free item.
For example, you can offer them a mini-course, a free thing that’s somehow related to your niche, or an eBook. In exchange for these “free” items, you simply request that they give you their email address, which builds your email list.
This also will help them perceive you as an expert and professional in whatever niche you’re teaching about.

At this point, you should have an earning goal, and the goals of your lead magnet should reflect this. Want to earn $10,000 from a course that costs 200 a person?

Then you’ll need to have a lead magnet that drives at least 50 people to sign up for your class. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to target thousands of customers to ensure you hit your 50-person goal.

To ensure this, you’ll need to drive traffic to this content. If you already have a site or blog, then you have a tool.

If not, create one; these tend to make you look more valid and knowledgeable in your niches. Besides, blogs are superb ways to gather emails from visitors.

In addition to these methods, you can also drive traffic to your lead magnets by:

  • Running paid ads on platforms like Facebook and Google
  • Creating re-targeting ads for folks that have viewed your landing page or website
  • Making social media content
Steps to Take:
  • Create a lead magnet to entice students
  • Drive traffic to lead magnet by engaging customers on your site, social media, etc.

Step Four: “Engage” in Audience Engagement

Engage-in-Audience-Engagement

As you’ve probably figured out by now, having a preexisting audience is a great tool for launching an online course.
As you create online coursework and build your brand, consistently engaging with your audience will help you adjust the experience.
For example, getting simple feedback from your visitors and students will allow you to pivot and refine the experience so that future students will find more value in your courses.

You can easily find out from your audience if your course is truly engaging or if you’re not quite gaining their undivided interest.

They can also tell you about course sticking points and provide you with suggestions on what to add going forward.

To start, you can even pre-sell your course. This is a method of engagement that offers a special deal for customers who commit early.

To use this, approach your prospective students who have expressed interest in this kind of discounted price.

If there’s true interest, your customers will jump at the chance, and you can also use this as an opportunity to validate your course.

Steps to Take:

  • Establish if you’ll need to set a low cost to bring in a higher volume of students
  • Figure out how to earn online by really understanding your target audience

Step Five: Enter the Beta Stages of Course Development

When you’re trying to sell online courses from your website, the next step is entering the beta stages.
When you hear that software is in beta, you know that the final version of that product is near, and the same can be said about an online beta course.
When in beta, you’ll only have a few test students, and the software associated with your course will be available only to this limited number of users.

In many ways, this intersects well with the pre-selling stage I mentioned in the last step; the beta version of the course can be offered at a discount, and you can engage with students to iron out the kinks.

Your beta testers are early adopters of your content, and any issues they encounter can be resolved by you before you push the finished product.

Ever noticed that some online courses already have testimonials before they are released? This is precisely why.

Steps to Take:

  • Create a “test version” of your course

Step Six: Strategize Your Launch

Strategize Your Launch
So, you’ve crafted a beta version of the site and have been pre-selling it to future students. Now, it’s time to think about the launch.
Don’t just release the course – create a strategy for your launch so that you can optimize your course’s performance.
Think of it as a way to build anticipation, which will garner more students.

Continue to build your email list, continue to pre-sell, and market your course, but turn things up a notch also. Show students that are on the fence how your course will enrich their lives.

Address fears that they might have. Again, try to get to know people who may be interested. Now’s the time to build trust, so make blog posts talking about the launch.

Host things like webinars so that those interested will know what to expect from your course.

Steps to Take:

  • Create a launch strategy for your course
  • Get to know your interested students
  • Craft informational sessions like webinars

Step Seven: Create a Sequence for Your Emails

A single email simply won’t do the job; you want to create a sequence of emails that reinforce your course’s perception of quality.
These emails should work in a sequence that starts with a teaser to inform people about the course and progresses through a series of relatively short emails that are designed to entice.

Here’s a brief rundown:

Email One

Email Two

Email Three

Email Four

Email Five

Email Six

Email Seven

Email Type

The Teaser

Course Description

The Launcher

The Converter

More Incentive

The Appreciation Email

The Sense of Urgency

Explanation

This merely informs people on your email list about your intent to start a class.

Potential students will want to know what’s in the course, so create a second email that is designed to inform.

This is the email that tells your prospective students that registration is open.

By now, you should have students, so it’s time to address those that are on the fence. Craft a FAQ so that unsure people can gather information and sign up.

This email is designed to convert those that weren’t converted before. This email offers a financial incentive to purchase the course. Just a few dollars off of registration is often enough to snag a few more students.

Now that you have students, send an email that thanks those who have signed up. Also, you can include testimonials.

At this stage, you have several students, and to bring more in, create a sense of urgency. Talk about the impending end of the course, and if your course is evergreen, speak about the end of the sales generated during your incentive stage. Don’t forget to tell them about any “last chances.”

Step Eight: Create Partnerships and Use Them

While launching, create partnerships with others in your niche, and have them promote your program. In return, you can grant them a small cut of each sale.

This is a form of traditional marketing cross-pollination, and while it can take time, the rewards can be massive. You can even use your allies’ email lists to help promote your launch.

Steps to Take:

  • Leverage partnerships with others in your niche to boost your launch.

Step Nine: Be Sure to Track All Aspects of Your Course

Is this the end? Surely it isn’t, so you must track your course performance so that you know what to do and not do when you inevitably offer a follow-up.
Create tracking links in your blogs, emails, and social posts to see how well the course is performing.
Use tools like Google Analytics and track social engagement so that your next launch is more streamlined.

Steps to Take:

  • Take a close look at how effective your launch is using tracking tools

Final Thoughts

Did you enjoy my piece on how to launch an online course? In this article, I really wanted to help you know the precise steps to take and the pitfalls to avoid when getting your course ready for the masses.
There are several advantages to taking these steps, and they will help you learn how to craft courses quicker and easier in the future.
Please feel free to share this with friends who are looking to launch, and please comment below with your feedback.

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