16 Lessons Learned on How to Build an Online Course from an Idea to 6 Figures and then to 7 Figures…Fast
I was on the phone with a client this week. She just crossed over the multi-6 figure a year mark on the online course she created with us in Create 6-Figure Courses.
She went from a vague idea to $400k a year in revenue and growing each month. She is going to easily cross the 7-figure mark this coming year. I’ve helped many experts build their first online course who now have 6-figure and 7-figure businesses built around the courses they created with us.
I’ve learned a ton. What to do. What not to do. Here’s what I’ve learned about building a profitable online course.
1. Choose the right customer.
The right customer has a problem you can help them solve. Think about your life and work experience, passion, talents. They all come into play here. You can build wildly successful courses in all kinds of topics when you solve problems.
2. Choose the right problem to serve first.
The right problem is a problem your client recognizes they have AND is willing to invest in to solve. You don’t have to solve ALL their problems in one course. If you try to do that, you and your client are going to get overwhelmed with all the content.
3. Go narrow.
When you narrow the customer and narrow the problem, you carve out a profitable niche for yourself—and you stand out. It’s scary because you think you’re missing out on the bigger opportunity. But, it’s just the opposite.
4. Charge full value right out of the chute.
I get that giving away seats in your first launch or charging a lower price takes the pressure off of you. But, think of it this way: your first students in your course will likely get more of YOU than anyone later will. You will be jumping in, refining, responding—they are going to get immense value. Charge what the transformation is worth.
5. It takes the same effort to fill a $97 program as it does to fill a $997 program.
I have launched online courses in our business and for our clients in automated funnels to cold traffic at $497, $997, all the way to $15k+. The effort to close a $97 sale is the same as the effort it takes to close a $997 sale. The cost to find your leads is going to be the same. Under-pricing makes everything harder in your business which leads to the next lesson learned…
6. Under-pricing can hold up your ability to market, serve and fulfill your mission.
If you don’t have enough profit built into your pricing, you aren’t going to make enough profit to fund a team, scale through ads and achieve the bigger purpose of your work.
7. Test, test, and keep testing.
The success stories you see on social media can make you think everyone is an overnight success. Not true and not helpful. So don’t compare and despair. Instead: think of everything as a test. The faster you put out an idea, the faster you can learn how to improve it. She who tests the fastest wins.
8. Adopt the mindset of an experimenter.
This is your secret weapon. It will help you put your offers out faster and help you refine them quickly. Launching your course or other offer is not a pass/fail. It’s simply an experiment. You can change anything you need to in order to make it into exactly what your clients want. But, here’s the thing: they can only tell you what to change if they actually get to see it.
9. When a client says “It’s too expensive,” it simply means they are not your right customer for that offer.
And keep in mind, you can have different ways to serve different customers. Customers who can’t afford to work one-on-one with you at a premium price point can still get access to your help through your online course. You can market both of these options at the same time on your sales page.
10. Distractions show up disguised as real work.
Signs you’re working harder than you need to? Here are a few: You’re attending free webinar after webinar. You’re researching tech tools like it’s a full-time gig. You keep changing your idea but never actually put anything out to customers.
Here’s the thing: You can get a course up in 30 days if you want to, without a bunch of tech. Don’t get distracted by other people making this sound so complicated. If you don’t want to deal with tech, then build your course and deliver it in live conference calls or webinars. So many of our customers have launched fast by staying laser focused. You can, too.
11. Engagement is the metric you should care about most.
It’s easy to focus on getting people “into” your course. Instead, focus on getting them to the finish line of your course so that they achieve results. The courses I lead have up to an 88% completion rate—compared to an online course industry standard of less than 10% of people finishing. We get these results because of the way we design the courses, and I can show you how to do this. Imagine if you were almost 9x-ing the results of other courses out there. You’re going to stand out, and your customers will become your biggest fans.
12. You and I are not Kevin Costner, and this is not “Field of Dreams.”
Sorry, I know, I know. You cannot simply build an offer and hope people will come to you and find it hidden on a page on your website. I tried that in the beginning, and it’s discouraging because you think no one wants your offer. You have to get in front of your audience and tell them: “Hey, this is what you have been looking for to solve that problem you have.” You have to LAUNCH your offer.
13. Pick one person who has done what you want to do and model what they are doing.
Tune out all the rest of the noise in your inbox and social feed, and stay zoned in on a success model that works for what you want to create. Trying to tie together what 15 gurus are telling you to do is a recipe for disaster. By the way—notice what they are doing, not what they are telling you to do. I find it interesting to see an expert telling you to podcast to build your business, and they are marketing their program to you on a webinar. (P.S. Webinars work when done right, and they are all you need to fill your course.)
14. Lead with how you make symptoms go away.
You are an expert, and you probably see the real issue your clients need to deal with. Guess what—they probably don’t see the underlying issue. They only see the most urgent symptoms they want to go away. Market by focusing on making the symptoms go away. Once they are in your course, you can help them see the underlying issue and how to deal with it.
15. You don’t need a big budget or a big list to make magic happen.
You simply need to get a handful of people to say, “yes”. You can get to “yes” old school style-on the phone, over coffee. People still do this. Really, they do. You leverage the revenue from those “yeses” and invest in scaling your launch to the next level. A sale today becomes your ads budget for tomorrow.
16. Focus on your Power Move.
You are always going to have more to do than you can get done. It’s part of the entrepreneurial ride. Look at your business and ask, “What one move would make the biggest impact?”
I’m betting that creating your course is that power move. It will create predictable revenue, bring in your ideal clients for deeper work, take you out of being the only product in your business and allow you to serve an unlimited number of people.
Our team has helped a lot of experts like you figure all this out—what to offer, who to offer it to, how to price it, what to include, and the fastest way to get clients in and revenue flowing. You can do this.
What’s holding you back? Share your comments below. You can do this!