This is THE number one question that online course creators ask me when they finish creating their course.
In the video below, I share 12 WAYS TO SELL YOUR ONLINE COURSE – WITHOUT PAYING FOR ADS.
These methods are what I personally used to get my first 32,000 students in 168 countries and they will also work for getting clients into any type of online business, product or service!
What I cover in this video:
- The two main types of online course promotion and which you should be using
- How to quickly and easily create a YEARS worth of marketing content to promote your online course
- How to make sure that YOUR course comes up in your target students’ search results
- How to turn ONE online course video into an online course marketing machine
- How to get your course in front of thousands without spending any money
- 10 simple strategies for maximising your online course sales with no ad spend – even if you are as tech-savvy as a CARROT.
Course Launches & Ongoing Marketing
It was the 25th February 2012 in the UK, my wedding day.
The sun had made a rare appearance which lightly warmed the crisp winter air.
From the head table I looked around the white-silk-laden gazebo at the smiling faces of my friends and family.
My dad was just getting up to present his speech about me.
I nervously took a long swig on my champagne and hoped he wouldn’t tell the really bad stories…
My lovely dad recited stories about my childhood, he had endless things to say about the mischief I’d got into, much to the delight of my friends.
But by the time he worked his way up to my adulthood, it became painfully apparent that Dad had no idea what to say.
As he stumbled his way awkwardly through trying to explain what I do for a living, my stomach turned inside out and a tear welled up in my eyes at the fact it was obvious that he had precisely zero idea what I did for a living.
Considering by that point that I’d been running my education and curriculum design company for 6 years, it really stung that it seemed he didn’t really know a thing about me.
His voice drowned away behind the buzzing of my thoughts “How could Dad not know about the biggest part of my life?”.
I swigged on my champagne again, half-conscious of the guests laughing hysterically about something else my dad was saying but I couldn’t hear.
I watched the bubbles ping to the surface of my glass as I placed it heavily back onto the table.
“Hang on a minute”. I thought. “This isn’t poor old dad’s fault at all!” I realised.
“This is MY fault. This is the clearest possible sign ever, that my marketing SUCKS!. If my own Dad doesn’t know what I do and how I help my customers for a living, then how on earth could I expect my customers to know?!”
The guests suddenly began cheering loudly and filled the gazebo with applause, awakening me suddenly from my enlightenment.
“Thank you Graham!” the best man boomed, taking his role as MC a little too seriously.
“Yes, thank you Dad” I agreed. “You’re the best”.
Dad taught me the most powerful lesson on my wedding day that has later contributed to my success enormously.
He made me realise that we can be so consumed in our business every day, that it’s almost impossible for us to imagine that those around us, and our customers are not.
We bury our heads in our business every day, we fuss over websites and social media pages, create content, deliver services and hustle for clients – but we often forget that unless we explicitly tell people exactly HOW we can help them, then they have absolutely no chance of knowing.
Immediately after our wedding day, my husband went back to work away at sea for a few months, whilst I packed up my bags and moved to start a new life for us in Australia.
I knew that if I was going to succeed at starting and sustaining a new business in Australia, that my number one mission was to make sure that EVERYONE and anyone knew who I was, what I did and exactly HOW I could help them.
But I didn’t stop there.
I knew, that just going around yelling about what I do and shoving it in people’s faces would not do me any favours.
I knew that I had to SHOW them what I did and how I could help them.
I knew that breaking into a new market and screaming about my promises would earn me nothing more than the block button.
I had to PROVE IT.
Enter the platform of education……
By delivering free webinars, applying to speak for free at workshops and conferences, sharing my expertise in guest blogs, speaking for free on podcasts, travelling around my state delivering free training and answering every question as fully as I could every time one was asked, I used education to demonstrate that I was who I said I was; that I was the expert I promised to be and that they knew from their own first-hand experience what I did, how I helped and that I was insanely good at it.
I used this method of ‘educating my market’ to ensure that everyone knew who I was, that their friends knew what I could do for them, that everyone in my city knew how I could help them, then everyone in my state knew how I could help them – and then I started working on ensuring I got that same information out to the rest of the country, and then the whole world.
I also gave my dad a call too!
It didn’t take long to get myself some 6-figure contracts and my phone ringing off the hook with people who strangers had referred to me having seen some of my free training.
Within 18 months of arriving in Australia with NOTHING, I had a 7-figure business and 9 employees working from my kitchen.
All because I remembered that if we don’t show people how we can help them, they don’t know that we can.
Here’s to my dad!
And the EXACT same is true when it comes to your online course.
If you want it to succeed once you’ve created it; you better make sure that you’re ready to work on promoting it, because it won’t sell itself.
The Moral of The Story
It is CRITICAL that you put your course in front of your target market continuously if you want them to buy it.
It is your responsibility to ensure that they are aware of you and your course – if you want it to sell.
If your customers cannot see you, cannot hear you and they don’t know how you can help them, they simply cannot buy from you, it’s as simple as that.
In the modern-day world of doing business, the platform of education is by far the greatest stage from which to ensure that your customers can see, hear and adore you for the products and services you provide – including your online courses.
However, here are just a couple of tips to get you going……
Launch and Ongoing Marketing
Without intending to burst your bubble, you must know that once created, your course will not sell itself.
There is no such thing as ‘build it and they will come’ – you must seek out your customers and put your program in front of them. Continuously.
Although there are certainly true stories of sensational 7-figure launches in the online course sector; it is not generally a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.
This will require dedication and consistency from you over a long period of time.
Having been in this business for over a decade, I can tell you that playing the long game wins.
Luckily, I have a number of tried-and-tested methods of ongoing marketing that I use for my own courses ALL of which I will share with you in the ‘Concept To Course’ program; and some I am going to share with you in this email.
First, let’s talk about online course launches…..
Different Types of Online Course Launches
The soft launch is quite simply publishing your course and getting it out to the world via your immediate connections, social media groups and email list without having to invest time or effort into a ‘formal’ launch process.
This informal method of course launch is great for getting your first few (and mostly already- familiar) students into a new course and give it a ‘gentle’ test run on real-life students.
I always prefer this method for the first time you create a course as it gives you a safe way to test that everything is working, run some students through it who likely already know and like you, and will allow you to make little tweaks, changes, updates and additions to your content live whilst the new students are running through the course.
This method also keeps your numbers smaller and therefore much more manageable as you go through your ‘first show’ and may need to iron out little creases or unexpected humps.
This launch speaks for itself and is great if you already know your topic very well and may have taught/consulted in it for some time – and as such your educational methods are ‘tried and tested’ – but this is your first online course version of delivering your content.
If you are confident that your content has always been valued by your previous clients and face to face students with great feedback and is well established as a methodology, and as such, the mode of going online is just a delivery transition; then you are in a great position to pre-sell your course – that is to sell it before you have published it.
The benefits to this are obvious – if people pay for something before you have published it, it proves that there is a demand for it and can increase your motivation and execution of the publishing process.
It also enables you to use in the income from the initial sales to cover any setup costs involved with creating your online course.
Just be aware that the risks with pre-selling can be catastrophic if for any reason you fail to produce the course that people have paid for – a definite dent in your reputation! And that is why I suggest that only people who already have their content tried and tested and ‘ready to convert to online’ go for this method.
The evergreen launch is when your online course is ‘forever open for enrollments’ and has two versions:
- The ‘publish it and leave it open’ with an organic marketing strategy
- The ‘publish it and leave it open’ with an aggressive lead feeder marketing strategy
I keep my Edupreneur Academy on an ‘evergreen’ setting so that people can sign up to any program whenever they want, and I use blogs, articles, podcast interviews, social media posts and YouTube videos to gain ‘organic’ leads into my online school.
This is a much slower way of generating a student base, but it is a rewarding strategy (especially if you like to be creative and publish things) that requires no financial input and can continue to bring you in organic leads for a very long time.
It may be ‘slow and steady’, but it’s rewards are long term and it has the additional benefits of creating content include increased industry authority, credibility, exposure and an entire suite of resources that you can direct potential clients to in your daily interactions.
As such, it is a very big strategy for me and one I attribute pretty much all of my success to.
I highly recommend it.
This is like chucking a bag of fertiliser on your content.
You’ll need some money for the fertiliser, but your goods will grow bigger and faster than the organic goods.
This type of evergreen launch has more a planned ‘aggressive’ lead feeder strategy to it and includes setting up highly organised, automated, and usually paid marketing to consistently have high numbers of prospective students ‘feeding’ into your sales funnel.
This usually comprises paid social media advertising, which leads into a free lead magnet (particularly effective is a free (automated) webinar), which then upsells the leads to the paid course or academy.
Paid Ads —-> Automated Pre-recorded Webinar —-> Upsell To Course
This strategy will bring you in significantly more leads (and much faster) than the organic method but does require upfront financial investment for your advertising and all of the tech setup and automation software that keeps everything ticking in the background.
However, get this right and it can be very profitable (and passive) indeed.
Wait until you have had a few groups go through your program before you do a launch like this so that you have absolutely perfected your content and delivery based on past student feedback and have plenty of testimonials to fill your landing pages with to help the sales conversions in the automated funnel.
Using page builders on your website, or funnel software, is a great way to really smash a big, powerful and profitable launch using this ‘go big’ method.
Enrolment Deadline Launch
This type of launch is often called the ‘Open Cart-Closed Cart’ launch and is a much more formal, thoroughly planned and strategic type of launch.
This is when you have:
- A planned ‘launch’ period before your course opens for enrolments to ‘warm up’ your Contacts
- A set date for your ‘tickets’ going on sale for the course
- A set date that everyone must have paid and enrolled by
- Completely close all enrolments until the next intake date.
- Carefully planned, produced and designed launch content and funnels
This method is very good for getting lots of sales in a short space of time – and is especially good for higher priced courses where people need a bit more persuading before they part with their hard- earned cash.
The ‘scarcity’ and ‘limited time’ that comes with these types of launches forces people to make a buying decision and is one of the most popular course launch methods of the major online marketers for this reason.
This method requires a LOT of prior planning and setup and I would advise that you give yourself at least 2 months (MINIMUM) prior to your ‘enrolment open date’ to plan your launch.
If you leave it later than that, you may find that you don’t have enough time to get all of your launch sequence and tech together.
The ‘Enrollment Deadline Launch’ is the method that I use for my ‘Concept To Course’, and I share the exact steps to take, as well as provide examples and email copy templates for you to rehash for your own launch in my ‘Concept To Course’ program.
Affiliate & Joint Venture Launch
This type of launch is reserved for when you have a bit more experience with launches and have generated some excellent results, feedback, testimonials and reputation with your program.
It’s when you get other people on board to market your courses to their own audiences in exchange for a share of the revenue generated.
You can also find experts who have complementary, but non-competing programs that they could ‘add on’ to your package offering, again in exchange for a shared revenue and marketing efforts.
When doing an affiliate or JV launch you will be required to have set up affiliate sales software (available in most LMS systems), so that your affiliates each have their own affiliate links and login area to track their clicks and sales.
Offer a Discount for Early Birds
Another method I’ve used is offering a discount for a very short period of time to my audience to encourage early subscribers.
My Long-Term Online Course Content Marketing Strategy
So launching is just one tiny part of getting your course out to the world – then there is the ongoing marketing that is required if you want to succeed.
I’m not telling you this to put you off – I’m telling you the truth and ensuring that you are going into this knowing the reality of the business.
When you work with me, you’re going to get absolute brutal honesty, even if it pokes the sore bits (I’ll hug it better after though!).
There are two main ways to market and promote your online course.
- Paid marketing
- Organic marketing
They are both excellent methods and should both be strategically used together if you want to get the biggest results for your programs.
The methods listed below which are just a tiny extract from my online course “How To Market, Promote and Sell Your Online Course” is a strategy that I have been using for years to make each and every piece of content that I have created work really hard for me.
The best bit is that these methods listed below are FREE.
So anyone can do it immediately, without any budget.
The earlier you start, the better, and there is never ever an end date.
You just keep going.
If you use this method effectively, you can create a year’s worth of content from just one online course video!
Here is what I do with every online course video to maximise my organic online course marketing:
- Publicly Publish A Selection of Your Online Course Videos
- Transcribe Your Videos
- Edit The Transcription Into A Long Form Blog Post.
- Send the Edited Transcription To Your Mailing List
- Edit the Transcription into Short Form Social Media Text Posts
- Create Infographics and Images
- Extract The Audio
- Add Your Long Form Article To LinkedIn
- Submit A Guest Article to Industry Blogs And Magazines
- Turn Your Long Form Articles into Published Books
- Share All of The Above Products On All Social Media Platforms
Never Stop Serving, And You’ll Never Stop Winning
Now of course, none of this is exhaustive.
There are endless ways to market and promote your courses and it all takes lots of trial and error to see what works best for you.
The trick is to not give up. Ever.
I’ve had my courses out there for years and I am ALWAYS learning new ways to market and sell them (the world of tech and online consumerism changes DAILY, so never stop learning, tweaking and trialing).
Keep changing your methods, keep putting it out there and never stop sharing it in every way you can.
This is a journey that never ends and with every step you get better and better, it gets easier and easier and more and more rewarding.
Take it slow and enjoy the journey – your world is about to change forever – ESPECIALLY if you join my “How To Market, Promote and Sell Your Online Course” program!
TWO TYPES OF COURSE MARKETING:
There are TWO main ways to market, promote and sell your online course:
- FREE ORGANIC / CONTENT METHOD
- Long term strategy that builds your presence, credibility, reputation, voice, relationships and genuine fans/followers.
- Creates evergreen content that will help people find you forever.
- Hack into other people’s massive ready-built audiences with instant trust bridge built
- It’s slow but it works long term.
- Quickly get mass leads via advertising
- Much faster way to grow a list and get quick returns
- Leaves you with little credibility affirming searchable content anywhere.