While we've probably all read stories about people who launched an online course and made $50,000 in a weekend, any creator who’s built a course has learned the hard way that it isn't always easy. For every article in Forbes or Entrepreneur magazine celebrating the successes, there are hundreds of course creators who struggle to get people to buy what they're selling.
If you are creating a course, or even if you have an existing course that you’ve built that isn’t meeting your sales goals, this article is going to walk you through some counterintuitive tricks that will help you grow your course sales rapidly.
1. Do less with social
The conventional wisdom around social media for creators is to "be everywhere." And with the advent of scheduling services, it's pretty easy to plaster your posts across every social media channel that exists. It just takes a click of the button.
But not all social channels are the same. And, as Gary Vaynerchuk argued in his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, you need to understand the logic of each social platform in its own right–they're not simply interchangeable.
If you are struggling to use social media to bring an audience to a community and sell an online course, one of the most counterintuitive strategies is to stop trying to do so much with social media. While it’s tempting to think of social like a shotgun that scatters as wide as possible, narrow can be better. Pick one or two social channels at the most, and focus on mastering them in the next 6 months.
If you love to make long-form, instructional videos, just focus on getting good at YouTube and get the benefit of its search engine function. If your audience is made up of professionals of some sort, maybe focus on learning how to grow on LinkedIn. Many of the top-selling course creators have grown their businesses to multi-six figures by ignoring the conventional wisdom to be everywhere and getting really good at one or two platforms.
2. Ignore most of your following
So let's say you have a hundred thousand followers on your favorite social channel. Congratulations, that's an amazing accomplishment. With that many followers, you might be tempted to try to create a course that serves all of them. Unfortunately, generality is the kiss of death for many online course sales.
Instead of trying to be all things to all people, focus really clearly on a very specific psychographic or a very specific problem that your course solves. The more specific you are about your ideal member, the more success you’ll have.
Bad=this course is for online marketers
Good=this course is for growth hackers at pre-seed start-ups
Bad= this course helps you find customers on social media
Good= this course helps you get your first 100 coaching clients with YouTube ads
Even if you have a big audience, niching down to a specific subset of that audience will help you sell more courses than trying to appeal to everyone.
3. Charge more
Although it's tempting to think that offering your course at a low price or a steep discount is going to give you scale, ironically pricing too low can really hurt sales.
There are two main reasons for this:
- People equate price with value. When we are asked to pay more for something, we subconsciously believe that it's worth more. If you are pricing your course too low, you’re sending the message to potential students that it isn’t worth much. Don’t race to the bottom. If anything, price a bit higher than your competitors.
- People need skin in the game. When people invest in a course to the point that it hurts a bit, it makes them way more likely to complete it and get the benefit from it. This will translate into success stories, which will pay dividends for your word-of-mouth advertising and your testimonials. A higher price holds them accountable for doing the work.
4. Give less information
One of the biggest mistakes that course creators make is to fall into the information dump trap. In essence, because they want customers to get their money's worth, creators are tempted to share everything they know. This results in a course that's diluted, confusing, and that will ultimately drop participants.
Although it's counterintuitive, stripping out most of the information from your course might be exactly what it needs. Instead of information, focus on the transformation that you want your members to go through. Give them exactly the right information they need to achieve that transformation, and resist the temptation to do any more than this.
5. Do it live
We all know the value proposition given to online courses. We have heard things like "you've got to build passive income," "earn money while you're sleeping," or "put it on autopilot and forget it."
The problem with asynchronous courses is that everyone's running them. But, if you've ever sold them, you know all too well that one of the biggest problems with asynchronous courses is completion rates.
This means that we need to find ways to bring community and connection into our online courses to keep people accountable. Obviously, one of the ways that we love to do this at Mighty Pro is to focus on the community-building platform first and make sure course and community go together.
But another unconventional strategy is to teach your courses live. In a world of canned online courses, a live course all of a sudden becomes an exciting value proposition to potential students. You can charge more for them. Your customers are going to show up, and they are going to finish it. You can add interactivity and spontaneity, and give them an experience they’ll never have with a pre-recorded course.
And that's why going old-school might just be your competitive edge.
6. Share the spotlight
If you're a creator, you might already have a following that is buying your courses. If you have a big following, you might not see the need to form strategic partnerships. But this is exactly where there's a huge opportunity to sell more courses. Look for someone who has a similar but not identical audience to you, and see if they want to collaborate. You could specifically hire them, paying them a set fee to teach a course with you. Or, you can figure out a revenue-share model. You might be surprised to find that bringing two or even three creators to co-teaching an online course has the potential to multiply the audience exponentially.
7. Build community first
As we mentioned above, our philosophy around selling online courses doesn't revolve around just a course. It starts with community. One of the reasons Mighty Pro gives you the power to build a community is that a healthy community will radiate benefits to every other area of your business, including course sales. If you want to sell more courses, focus on building a community of people who know and trust your brand, and who will keep showing up for the value you give in your community. From this, it's a pretty small step to ask them to up-sell into a high-quality online course, especially when it lives in your community already and everyone else is doing it.
8. Forget the funnel
If you have gone down the rabbit hole of marketing online courses, you probably learned about building complicated funnels. You might be thinking about tripwires, automated webinars, upsells and downsells, and other marketing lingo.
Marketing funnels absolutely have their place and there’s nothing wrong with knowing how to set them up. But if you are overthinking your funnel and making it way too complex, there's a chance you're losing sales in the process. Plus, people see through marketing funnels–since we are exposed to them all the time.
It's why we focus on building community first, providing a ton of value to people. Once you build this relationship and they trust you, you can sell without needing gimmicks or 1990s copywriting tactics.
“But wait, there’s more!”
Build community first. Course sales will follow.