So you want to create an online course? YAY, great choice.
There has never been a better time to be an online entrepreneur. The tools we have available to us are pretty amazing (and cheap) and make an online business so achievable. You can teach what you know to people all around the world, and get paid well for it too.
But before you jump in, I’ve got some advice and cautionary tales for you, because trust me, it’s an … interesting journey. There are very low barriers to entry but it’s not “effortless”. It takes a lot of work and courage.
But obviously I’m a huge advocate, with courses forming the bulk of my million dollar business.
But I didn’t start out like that!
If you’d rather listen in you can do that here:
I’ve been speaking and teaching at in-person workshops for years now, and there’s nothing more satisfying that being able to help a global audience without leaving your house (and often without putting on a bra!).
Creating my Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp has been a game-changer for my business. I had reached six figures from mostly private coaching clients but I knew that I had hit a plateau with my time and energy.
I was already coaching from super early in the morning to really late at night to accommodate global timezones and the idea of working twice as hard to double my income made me want to cry.
Maybe you’re already there?
You’ve reached the limit of your personal capacity and you want to start leveraging your time.
When I started coaching clients in my dreams, I knew it was time to create a course, and get some of that sweet passive income action. Plus, if I ever wanted to take a vacation, I knew that I needed another way to make money beyond my personal time and attention.
I was rapidly turning into a workaholic, but I’ll be honest, I had a lot of resistance to creating a course, and maybe you do too.
It’s really common to feel a mix of longing and apprehension. Creating a course seems to bring up a lot of “stuff” for women. Nothing will bring up your money blocks faster. You’ll discover new levels of procrastination you never knew you had. Think of the amount of work you’ll need to do, now quadruple it.
Lots of people START but very few actually take a course to market.
Here’s the good news – your first course doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Mine definitely wasn’t when I started. Nobody starts out with thousands of participants – and trust me – it would cause havoc if you did!
There’s a reason why most of us experience gradual growth – and that’s a good thing.
There’s definitely a lot of tech know-how, set up costs and planning involved – not to mention the learning curve while you’re delivering it.
Oh, and don’t forget the customer service. You’ll receive emails about password resets (often multiple times from the same people), tech issues will crop up where people can’t see the videos or don’t know how to download something properly. If you don’t have the capacity for that (for example, an assistant), then it can quickly become a nightmare.
And believe me – it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve checked and re-checked everything, people will find typos (and they’ll let you know!)
So, it’s okay to start small, and grow from there as long as you START.
My very first group course had 4 people in it. We had audio and PDF assignments every week, live coaching calls and a Facebook group. There was a huge, steep learning curve to get to the point now where I have more than 3000 people in my courses.
That doesn’t happen over night!
BUT – I actually had another “secret” course that didn’t have any live components at all. It was a 10-part video series that I sold for $50. It wasn’t super sexy, I didn’t over deliver and it was a no-brainer for people to buy.
Before long, that course was earning me around $1500 a month (roughly one sale a day). I advertised it on my blog and in my weekly newsletter. It was pretty simple and the extra money meant that I could be fussier about my clients. It also bought me some time and energy to start creating my bigger courses.
So – should YOU focus on creating a course or doing 1:1 work with clients right now?
My advice varies depending on where you are in business right now.
New to business?
If you have a really small list and you aren’t earning much money yet, then it can be tricky to create a course and make immediate money out of it. Sure, you CAN work on a course, but who are you going to sell it to?
It’s disheartening for new entrepreneurs to realize that a normal sales page conversion is 1%. You could spend lots of time and energy creating a course, but then feel like quitting when nobody buys it.
There’s nothing more tragic than feeling like a failure, when it’s not YOU, it’s the reality of playing a numbers game. (I’m not saying that your clients are numbers, it’s just that it’s not personal that people aren’t buying. You can’t overcome statistics with passion – that’s just one part of it.)
When people tell me that they’ve poured their heart and soul into something, and then are devastated that it “failed” – I know that they’ve missed a fundamental part of being in business. An amazing product is paramount – but you have to have people to SELL it to.
Honestly, it’s not just list size. You might not have a good, viable idea yet, or you’re really in a practice business while you figure out your true calling. Maybe you don’t have any idea what your clients really want, you haven’t nailed your niche down and the learning curve is super high, so you keep getting stumped on small tech things because you’re learning it all yourself.
Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Googling code at 3am is no fun!
So should you create a course if your business is really just starting? I’m not saying no – I’d just have extremely realistic expectations about the amount of work it will take, and when it will start earning money.
It’s not a get rich quick project. Sure, there are people in business who have done it super quick, and it’s usually because they’ve moved through the procrastination and resistance quickly and have been willing to invest money (like for example in Facebook ads) before they reap the reward.
So be honest – do you have a big enough network to sell it to?
List building, low hanging fruit, getting experience
At this stage, you’re better off creating a few free resources so you can grow your list. These people are your future course participants.
For example – run free webinars on topics that interest your potential audience – you can always repurpose them later for free optins. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if hardly anyone attends these live. The purpose is to PRACTICE. Get used to the technical hurdles, get used to talking about your topic, nail a few talking points.
Also – get more clients, even if they’re free or in exchange for testimonials. Start building your tools and techniques with real people, this will form the basis for your paid course in the future, and you’ll have a better understanding of their problems and frequently asked questions.
Getting traction in business?
If you’re running out of time because you’re getting booked out or you feel like you’ve hit a natural income ceiling, then you have two choices.
Drastically raise your prices, or
Create passive income sources.
Both are good, but if you know that doing 1:1 work isn’t necessarily your zone of genius long term, then passive income is the way to go. (I do have tips on increasing your prices here)
By now your list size is growing, and you probably have a solid idea about your strengths and offerings as an entrepreneur. You don’t have to have a perfect niche but it’s pretty clear what you can help people with.
Now it can be hard to find the time to create a course when you’’re busy being IN your business, servicing clients or doing “done for you”, but this is a short time sacrifice for potentially large rewards.
So start planning out your course now. You’re never going to have the spare time unless you suck it up, and create it for the future.
Then as your course income increases, you can cut back on the 1:1 work or raise your prices without worrying that you’ll lose all your clients.
You might also be tempted to write a book as a passive income source, but trust me, it’s probably quicker to create a course than to write a whole book (unless you’re a super fast writer), and you can charge a lot more for a course!
For example – it took me around 9 months to write each of my two books – and I can only charge around $10-15 for them. You can create a course in much less time and charge hundreds or more for it.
Capturing your knowledge, leveraging your current resources, carving out time to make it happen
Dip your feet in by creating a small course – it doesn’t have to be heavily involved or complicated. If you’re feeling brave, you can sell the course and create it as you develop it.
Lots of people freak out about that, but as long as you have an outline, with very clear outcomes and you’re confident in your material, you can tweak things in real time as your participants are going through it. (Only do this if you’re willing to completely clear your calendar, and potentially have a few late nights!)
An alternative is to run a group coaching course, teaching a small-medium sized group with the tools and techniques you’d usually share with your 1:1 clients.
If you add lots of interactive elements like live group coaching and Q&A sessions, you can repurpose these for later when the course is more involved.
Should you run a Beta course first?
I don’t always recommend running a Beta course. For one, the name itself implies that you don’t know what you’re doing, and your customers are usually in critique mode rather than participant mode.
Most people also don’t set up a really stringent process for getting testimonials, so often you don’t really get anything out of it anyway.
For your first course, you can always promote an “Introductory rate”, so you get real clients but a cheaper intro rate can take the pressure off somewhat.
Each time you run the course, you can improve it with feedback. You’ll learn more about the problems of your clients, and you’ll be able to build a bank of resources like FAQs and tools to improve the course further.
My Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp has been through four major renovations and keeps getting better.
My biggest advice is not to start new courses all the time – refine what you know and get really well known for it. The focus can be a hard discipline for creative entrepreneurs but you can innovate around the core course curriculum and keep it interesting and fresh for your squirrel brain!
Okay – so you’re going to make it happen – good for you!
You need a plan.
What’s your first step to create an online course?
I’d take an inventory of all your knowledge, tools, techniques and resources and sort them into a 6-8 week curriculum. Don’t jam too much information in or you’ll overwhelm your participants.
Then figure out how you’re going to present it – over video, audio, live classes, etc. Map out everything you need to create and tick it off. Then hustling and then you need a marketing/launch plan.
Obviously, there is a lot to think about, and I’d really recommend finding a mentor to help.
Short cut your success
She’s helped so many women in my community to get their courses out in the world, and you can start today.
You can watch her training videos HERE and start planning out your ecourse today (they are totally free).
They’re designed to answer the most frequently asked questions about e-Courses (like how to come up with ideas, and how to market to a small list) as well the BIG trouble-spots and mistakes she see business owners struggle with all the time.
This series of 3 super-useful videos includes:
- How to hone in on the right idea for your e-Course (so that you know you’re creating something your audience will buy!)
- How to avoid the 10 common rookie mistakes that negatively impact your e-Course enrollments
- How to lose the fear around creating a course (omg – this is the BIG one that stops people)
The secret behind creating something like this is to follow a SYSTEM (and seriously, systems work).
Kathryn has helped launch hundreds of courses for her clients, so start learning from her today.
So – decide that THIS YEAR you’ll finally get all that valuable info out of your head and into the hands of the people who need and want it – your potential customers.
It’s your time and you’re ready for the next step.
P.S I’m not saying this journey to create your course is going to be super easy, because it’s not. Virtually nothing in business comes without a certain amount of fear, procrastination and hard work.
But it’s really truly worth it. Creating my course (from those really humble beginnings) has allowed me to spend time with my family, create abundance and of course, help a LOT of people around the world.
I’m wishing that for you too!
The URL (this is my AFF link) again for the free course is: