How to sell online courses from your own website: A complete beginner’s guide
Do you want to sell online courses from your own website?
Do you feel overwhelmed with everything that you need to learn and do in order to get started?
Don't worry, most course creators getting started face the same issue. And this is the reason I have created this epic, 10,000-word step-by-step guide to help you start from scratch.
In this guide, I’m going to show you everything you need to know and do in order to start selling online courses from your own website.
Let’s dive right in.
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Everything you need to know before you start to sell online courses from your own website
Why sell online courses?
Selling online courses has changed the lives of so many individuals like you and me. I personally know many course creators who regularly make 4-figure, 5-figure and even 6-figure incomes every month by selling courses online.
I have worked with a number of such instructors and have seen how they have turned their expertise in yoga, health & nutrition, cyber security, music, religious philosophy and a number of other areas into a fully fledged online course business.
There is something about selling online courses that attracts so many individuals and is helping them to transform their lives completely.
Let me share with you 5 reasons why selling courses online is so attractive in 2017 and why you should do it too:
So, the only thing that I want you to do before we move forward is to feel confident that you too can teach online and make a business out of your passion.
Choosing the right solution for hosting & selling your online courses
One of the most important decisions that you need to make before starting to sell online courses is related to selecting the best online course platform.
Through my 1:1 services, I have helped 500+ course creators like you launch their online course business on WordPress, Teachable, Thinkific, Kajabi and a couple of other platforms.
Of all the platforms I have worked with, I found Teachable to be the easiest to use and most beginner friendly while offering enough flexibility to meet your needs as your business grows.
As a result, I recommend that you use Teachable for hosting & selling online courses.
What is Teachable?
Teachable is an ‘all-in-one’ solution for creating and selling online courses.
When I say all-in-one, I mean you can build your course site, host & protect your content (videos, pdfs, quizzes etc.), hide it behind a paywall, deliver the content to the students and further engage with them, and you can do all this even if you have no coding skills.
Most importantly, Teachable offers complete ownership of your course, content, student data, branding and pricing.
More than 8,000 course creators, including big names like Pat Flynn and Melyssa Griffin, use Teachable to host and sell their online courses.
Why I recommend using Teachable?
Short answer: Because at this point there are no better/easier ways to build a course website…
Let me give you some specific reasons as well:
#1: Teachable is easy to use & setup (no coding skills required)
Teachable is much easier to use & setup compared to WordPress, and to get started, you just need to sign up and create an account with Teachable.
You can create a good looking, fully fledged course website on Teachable even if you don't have any coding skills or a technical background or without hiring a developer.
As a result, you can create your course website and get started with selling courses in a few days rather than months.
#2: Teachable has been designed to scale
Teachable has been designed to scale and so you don't need to worry about anything related to technology as your website grows in size and scale. It doesn't really matter whether you have 100 or 10,000 students on your site, or whether you have 10 or even 1000 courses.
As a result, Teachable is used by businesses of all size - Individuals with a couple of 100 students as well as enterprises (StackSkills, TNW etc.) with more than 10,000 students.
#3: With Teachable, you don't need to worry about updates & maintenance
Those of you who have been using WordPress would know that the biggest pain point for selling courses (or doing anything) on WordPress is taking care of updates & maintenance on an ongoing basis.
While with Teachable, their expert team takes care of the regular updates and maintenance for the entire platform and you can focus on more important things like creating & selling courses.
#4: Teachable's pricing is flexible and they have a FREE plan as well
As a beginner, one of the biggest advantages that you have with Teachable is that you can start on their free plan and switch to one of the paid plans later as you grow. Even on the paid plans, you can pay monthly instead of paying annually.
If you were selling online courses with WordPress, you would have to make an investment of at least $600 per year, most of which will be upfront payment.
#5: Teachable offers 24/7 customer support
Teachable also offers 24/7 customer support which you can rely upon. So, if you face an issue or have some other questions, you can reach out to the support team and you can get help pretty quickly.
For beginners, I suggest sticking to Teachable.
It’s the most beginner friendly online course platform I’ve ever worked with, but it’s flexible enough to suit your requirements as your business grows.
In the next chapter, I will show you how to create a course website on Teachable platform.
Build your online school (No coding skills required)
Create a free account on Teachable
As mentioned in the previous chapter, Teachable offers a free plan as well. For this guide, you just need a free account on Teachable.
- Click here to go to Teachable and then click on the 'Get started' button.
You will be taken to the signup page where you can enter your name and other details to create your free account.
You now have a free account with Teachable. You just need to name your online school and then click on the 'Create New School' button.
On the next page, Teachable will ask you to answer a few questions in order to customize the experience for you.
I recommend you answer the questions but you can continue without answering as well.
Congratulations! you created your online school on Teachable.
Immediately after you create your school, you are taken to the admin dashboard where:
- you will see a message at the top to confirm your email. Go to your inbox and confirm your account
- you can click on the 'How do I' button to read Teachable's help articles
- you will see the next steps listed on your dashboard for you to launch your online school.
Before we move forward, I will give you a quick walkthrough of the admin area. The most important place in your admin dashboard is the sidebar where you will see various options:
Dashboard: This is the main page of your admin website where you can see a summary of your course sales and student activity.
Users: Here you can see all your students and their information. You can also filter your students based on multiple criteria like which courses they are enrolled in, if they have completed a particular course or not etc.
Site: This is where you go to customize the look and feel of your website. You can setup theme colors, change your domain etc. from the site menu.
Transactions: Here you can see a detailed history of the transactions done on your website
Emails: You can send broadcast emails to your audience from here.
Courses: Under courses menu, you can add new courses, add content to existing courses, create a sales page etc.
In the next steps, I will show you how to customize the look and feel of your website, create a course, add content and build a sales page.
Customize the look and feel of your Teachable school
In order to customize your Teachable school, click on the 'Site' option in the sidebar. This should open a new set of options:
Theme: You can add a logo and favicon to your website, change the colors and typography here.
Domains: You can change the default Teachable URL for your school and even add a custom domain (only available on Basic Plan & above).
Navigation: Here you can change the menu links that appear in header and footer.
Authors: Here you can create and edit authors on your school.
Pages: If you want to create any additional pages like a 'Contact Us' page, you can do it from here.
Custom Text: You can completely modify the text on your website from here. Say if you want to show your website in French rather than English, this is the place to do it.
Code Snippets: You can add custom scripts and CSS codes here.
Power Editor: Power Editor allows you to do advanced customization on your website from the backend.
Let's start with changing the color and the fonts on our school website. To do that, go to Site -> Theme. Under logo & background, you can add logo & favicon to your site and you can also change your homepage background.
Under Font Family, you can select the font style that you want to apply to your school website. Select the font and click on the save button.
Under Colors, you can either use one of the color presets or you can use custom colors and define it for various parts of your school website.
While you make changes to your Teachable school, you can always check how those changes look by clicking on the Preview button at the top.
This is how our school looks in the preview mode:
Now that you have modified the color and fonts for your website, you can click on domains. When it comes to school domain, you have two options: 1) default Teachable domain 2) custom domain which is available on paid plans only.
You can start with a Teachable domain and upgrade to a custom domain when you are ready. So, modify the Teachable domain if you want to and then click on Confirm Domain. Thats all you need to do with domains at this point.
Next, let's go to navigation. Under navigation, you have the option to modify your homepage, change navigation menu and footer links.
Under navigation bar, you can modify the header links and you can also allow whether a menu item is visible to logged in or logged out students. You can add or edit header menu links here.
The next thing that we need to do is to add an author profile. Click on Authors in the sidebar and then on 'Add Author'. In order to create an Author, you need to enter the author name and bio and also upload a profile pic. Once you do that, just click on 'Add Author' and it will successfully add an author to your school.
The next option is 'Pages'. Under Pages, you can modify your homepage as well as create additional pages for your school. For example, if you need to create a Contact Us page, you can do that here.
You don't need to worry about the rest of the options under Admin->Site. Code Snippets and Power Editor are used for advanced customization and you shouldn't use them at this point.
Now that we have customized the look and feel of the school, we can now create our first Teachable course. I will show you how to do that in the next section.
Create your first Teachable course
In this section, I will show you how to create a course on Teachable and add content.
Go back to your dashboard. Click on the '+' icon next to 'Courses' in the Admin sidebar.
You will be taken to a new page where you will be asked to enter some basic details about the course.
- Enter a name and a subtitle for the course.
- Select an author for the course. If you haven't yet created an author, you will need to create one and enter name and bio along with a profile pic.
- Enter a description for the course. Just enter a brief text at this point and I will show you how to modify the description later.
Click on Create Course button to create the course.
Once you create the course, you will be taken to the curriculum page of your course.
The Curriculum page is where you add content to your course. Curriculum in Teachable consists of two different units: lectures and sections.
A lecture is the smallest unit and this is where you add actual content (videos, text, audio etc.) while a section is nothing but a way of grouping your lectures and doesn't hold any actual content.
You can think of a section as a module in your course while a lecture is an individual lesson in a particular section/module.
Let me first show you how to create a section within your course.
On the Curriculum page, click on the 'New Section' button at the top.
Enter a name for the section and click on the Create Section button.
Your new section will now appear on the Curriculum page.
Now that we have learnt how to create a section, let's learn how to add a lecture within that section and add content to it.
Start by clicking on the New Lecture button.
Enter a name for the lecture and click on the 'tick' button to save it. You can then add text, files and quizzes to your lectures.
You can then add content to your course including text, videos, audio and even quizzes.
Before we start creating a sales page for our course, let's add a pricing. In order to allow students to enrol in your course, you need to add a pricing to it. Click on the pricing in the left panel and then select one of the options.
You can either make your course free, add a one-time pricing, make it a subscription payment or even add a payment plan. Let's click on One-Time Purchase.
Select a currency and a price for your course and click on the Add Pricing button.
Similarly, you can add multiple pricing to your course. You can have a one-time purchase as well as monthly subscription pricing for your course or you can have your course price in multiple currencies.
Adding content to your course and setting up a price for it in Teachable is really easy. There is one more step before we can start selling our course and that is create a sales page for it.
Create a sales page for your Teachable course
We have covered quite a bit about Teachable and how to create your online school. Now, let's deep dive into how to create a sales page.
When you first click on 'Sales Page' in the left panel, you will see some blocks added to it by default. You can delete or modify these blocks as per your requirement.
The course description that we added while creating the course is also added to the sales page by default. You can modify your course description here.
A Teachable sales page is made up of blocks. There are multiple block types - Hero Header, Rich Text, Embedded Video, Testimonials etc. You can add as many of these blocks as you want to your sales page and you can reorder the blocks by a simple drag & drop.
In order to add a new block, move your cursor towards the bottom of a block and you will see the option to insert new block.
These blocks are self explanatory and adding content to it is really easy. One of the blocks that you are going to use most often is the Rich Text Block which you can add by clicking on the 'A' icon and this is how it looks.
While you are creating your sales page, make sure to save it after you make some changes. And you can always click on the 'Preview Button' at the top to see how your sales page is going to look.
Using Teachable's standard blocks, you can create a good looking sales page like these:
You can also customize and build your sales page from scratch. Teachable has a liquid/html block where you can add your own code.
Also, if you need to change any information about your course like course name, URL etc., you can do that from the Information tab. You can also add a Promo Video and Thumbnail to your course from this area.
Now, let's publish your course and make it publicly visible on your school. To do that, go to 'Information' and click on the 'Publish Course' button at the top.
This is how the sales page looks when I preview it. One thing that you will notice: an Enroll in Course button has been added to the sales page.
However, you will still see a message at the top that says, your school in not live yet. Basically, you need to publish your school (you have published your course and not school) before it can be publicly seen.
Finally, let's take a look at how you can modify overall school settings. To change the overall settings and make your school live, click on the 'gear' icon at the bottom. Once you click on that, you will see a host of options.
In order to make your school live, go to General-> Status and click on 'Take My School Online' button.
Woohoo!! You just created your school and made it live!
You can share the school URL with your friends and your network. I am going to discuss how you can promote and sell your online courses in detail in the next chapters.
Before you finish, you need to add your Paypal address so that you can receive payments from Teachable for your course sales.
You can modify other settings from here as well. You can integrate Teachable with other services like MailChimp from the Integrations tab.
You can also add a blog to your school from the Labs tab under settings.
You can do this......
And you can do that.....
I know you will have more questions!
It's completely normal to have questions regarding how to do this and that on your Teachable school. If there's anything specific, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom and I will respond to it.
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Build a sales funnel to sell your online course
What is a sales funnel and why do you need one?
In order to sell online courses from your own website, you need a sales funnel.
Most of the people who visit your website for the first time aren't going to buy your courses. Rather they aren't ready to make a purchase yet.
You will require a sales funnel to convert these visitors into paying customers. But what is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is the process by which you move your website visitors from one stage to another before they buy your online courses.
Now, you can have different stages in your funnel depending on your niche, your courses, your audience etc. However, a simple sales funnel typically has 5 stages:
1. Awareness: At this stage, a user who didn't have any sort of contact with your brand in the past becomes aware about your business, your courses or even about the problem that needs to be solved.
At this stage, you require freely available content that doesn't require users to enter their email address or make a payment or do any sort of opt-in.
This sort of content includes Blog posts, Youtube videos, podcast episodes, social media posts and they are good for making users aware about your brand.
2. Interest: Now that the user is aware about the problem, he/she is looking for a solution.
At this stage, you require content that's gated. Free guides, checklists, eBooks, video training etc. which require a user to enter their email address in order to access them are ideal for capturing user's interest.
These freebies are called lead magnets and the idea is to help users solve a part of the larger problem. The moment someone joins your email list and downloads one of these freebies, the user turns a visitor into a lead and it's an indication of his/her interest in your courses.
3. Education: At this stage, the user has already subscribed to your list but he/she might not be ready for a direct pitch as the relationship is new, plus the user might not be fully aware of the problem/solution yet.
So, before you get into the sales mode and pitch your courses directly to the users, you should focus on adding more value. You should have some content which can be in the form of blog posts and videos that provide more value, help you build trust and also agitate a larger problem.
Ideally, you should create an autoresponder sequence for nurturing your leads and turning them into prospects.
4. Decision: At this stage, the user is considering whether he/she would purchase your course or not. Your role at this stage is to assist the user in making a decision.
Typically, you will create a sales sequence that will describe your solution, answer their questions, tackle objections and even make some special offers.
You can always integrate webinars, facebook targeting ads etc. in your sales funnel strategy to help them make a decision.
5. Action: At this stage, a prospect purchases your course and becomes a customer. When a prospect becomes a customer, the funnel ends and you can celebrate your success!
Now, this is a basic framework for your sales funnel and there can be additional stages depending on a number of factors.
For example, you might have a low-value, introductory offer in your funnel before you present your signature course to the users. This is called a tripwire and this is done immediately after the user opts in.
Another example would be leveraging customer engagement to drive repeat sales.
Now that you have understood the idea behind a sales funnel, let me share some real examples and show you how a sales funnel actually works.
Sales funnel examples to help you better understand the process
Let me explain to you what a sales funnel looks like from an user point of view with the help of some examples.
How Brian Dean from Backlinko does it?
Brian Dean is a top SEO expert and one of those guys I follow religiously. He has some great content on his website in the form of blog posts. The blog posts he writes are of excellent quality and help create awareness about SEO and his business.
The reason why I have included Backlinko as an example is because Backlinko has a very simple sales funnel which is not very salesy.
If you visit his blog, you will see a call to action to join his list in the header.
On his blog page as well as the sidebar, you will see another type of opt-in form.
Once you signup, he asks you to confirm your email address.
Once you confirm the email address, you will be taken to a thank you page where he asks you to follow him on Twitter.
After that, he follows up with you with some really helpful content with no selling at all.
Finally, he launches his premium course SEO That Works and it is all very simple.
How Bryan Harris from VideoFruit does it?
Bryan Harris has a six-part email course titled 'Jumpstart Your Email List' which he uses as one of his lead magnets.
Once you subscribe, he sends 6 autoresponder emails where he shares tips for building an email list.
He has a premium course, 'Get 10,000 Subscribers', which he launches from time to time.
How Nathan House from StationX does it?
Brian and Bryan have a similar launch strategy in a sense that both have signature courses which open for a limited period of time and then the doors close.
However, Nathan from StationX (who happens to be a good friend of mine) sells courses which are evergreen in nature. Basically, you can take his courses any time without waiting for the next launch. As a result, his approach to selling is different.
He too offers a lead magnet on his homepage as well as blog posts. Once someone opts in for the toolbox, he immediately delivers the freebie. He then sends a short autoresponder sequence with valuable lessons related to cyber security.
Since his courses are evergreen, he doesn't have the luxury of opening and closing the doors of his courses. As a result, his sales emails are also setup as an autoresponder and he offers a case study as an exclusive bonus to those who buy his courses during his sales campaign.
These are just a few examples to help you understand how sales funnels work in real life, and in the next step, I will discuss how you can create a sales funnel for your own courses.
Creating a sales funnel to sell your own courses
By now, you should have a much better idea of what a sales funnel is and how it is used by entrepreneurs to sell online courses.
I'm going to breakdown the process of building a funnel further for you so that you can implement it for your own courses.
Step #1: Create a few content pieces around your course topic
As discussed, the first stage of your funnel requires you to have some content for which the user doesn't need to opt-in.
I recommend you start a blog and create at least 5-6 pieces of good content around your course topic. The simple reason is that content marketing has a very high ROI and it is key to driving traffic to your website.
Let me give you an example: Say your course is 'How to Lose Weight in 90 Days'. You might write some articles like these:
- 10 deadly side effects of obesity
- 10 tips to lose body weight quickly
- How to lose weight and still feel strong
- Three things that's stopping you from losing weight
- How I lost 30kgs in less than 30 days
- Five weight loss equipments that you should consider buying
These are just a few ideas that I could think of. Now you are an expert in your niche and I leave it up to you to come up with ideas for creating content.
Just keep in mind that the blog posts shouldn't be completely unrelated to your course topic and the blog posts should focus on making the users aware about the problem that your course targets, and then you should also offer smaller solutions in your posts.
Another thing that you need to decide is whether you want to write text articles or create videos or create both. It doesn't really make a great difference as long as you do it well.
However, if you decide to focus on creating videos, make sure to get your videos transcribed and add the transcript on your website as text. This is really important as it will help you with SEO.
So, go ahead and setup a blog immediately. Create a few pieces of killer content and make it live.
Step #2: Create a killer lead magnet to build your email list
A lead magnet attracts people to your email list and helps grow it. A lead magnet is a piece of content that's available only when someone signs up for your email list.
A well done lead magnet must solve a specific problem, it must be created for quick consumption and it must be related to your larger topic.
And keep in mind that a 2-3 page lead magnet is as effective as a 300 page eBook. So focus on content and quality rather than quantity.
Some of the possible lead magnet examples for the weight loss course I shared earlier can be:
- Weight loss checklist
- 30-day weight loss challenge
- Diet plan for weight loss
- Excel-based weight loss tracker
- Weight loss exercise guide
Step #3: Setup landing pages and opt-in forms to collect leads
If you don't already know about it, a landing page is a dedicated page with a singular focus of making your offer convert. Now, the offer can be a lead magnet or even a paid course.
You must have seen pages like these:
These are examples of landing pages and you need to create a landing page for your lead magnet as well.
You can promote these landing pages in your blog posts, via social media, FB ads etc. Once someone signs up, they are taken to a thank you page like this where you can guide them on the next steps, and even ask them to take further action like share with their friends etc.
In order to create landing pages and thank you pages for WordPress, you should use Thrive Content Builder (now Thrive Architect) which can help you build landing pages quickly, even if you don't have coding skills.
You can also use a solution like Clickfunnels. However, it is much more expensive compared to something like Thrive Content Builder.
If you use ConvertKit as your email service provider, you can use the landing page templates offered by them.
You can also build landing pages on the Teachable platform itself. However, you will need to put in some extra effort. You can create 'Custom Pages' in Teachable and then use the opt-in form from your email service provider to collect email addresses on the landing page.
Landing pages are just one way of presenting your offers. You can also use various types of opt-in forms on your homepage, blog posts and other pages on your website.
You must have seen opt-in forms like these:
If you go to NeilPatel.com and try to leave his website, a popup will appear. This is called an exit intent popup and this appears on your site when a user is about to leave the website. You can also trigger popups based on the time a user has spent on the page or based on some action.
Matthew Woodward uses a welcome mat on his website which takes over the entire screen as soon as the user lands on the page.
The one that we have seen on Brian's website is a widget opt-in form. You can also place a form like this on your blog page and blog posts.
Another opt-in type that is really popular is inline forms (or within content forms). Once you click on this image, a popup will appear which will ask you to enter your email address.
In order to create opt-in forms for your WordPress site, you should use Thrive Leads which is reasonably priced and offers great features.
If you are using a non WordPress site like Teachable, you can use either optinmonster or opt-in forms from your email service provider. Obviously, the latter is limited in functionality.
Now the opt-in forms can display the same offers that you are displaying on your landing pages. So, when should you use landing pages vs opt-in forms?
Landing pages are for promoting your lead magnets directly via social media or via affiliate marketing or even paid ads, while opt-in forms are ideal for using on blog posts, homepage etc. and promoting your lead magnets indirectly.
Step #4: Create a nurture sequence to engage your subscribers
Now that you have setup the landing pages and opt-in forms on your website, you need to setup lead magnet delivery and a nurture sequence to follow up with your subscribers.
In order to store the subscriber information and send them emails, you need an email service provider. There are multiple options in the market and some of the popular ones include: MailChimp, ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.
If you are really tight on budget, you can go for MailChimp as it offers a free plan for upto 2,000 subscribers.
However if you can spend some money, I recommend using ConvertKit as it is the friendliest email service provider for beginners and you can get started very quickly and set everything up yourself.
Now, setting up lead magnet delivery is very easy in Convertkit. They allow you to create incentive emails where you can upload your lead magnet and send it to your new subscribers.
In order to setup a welcome/nurture sequence, you need to create a new sequence and add emails to it. You can add multiple emails and also set up when you want your emails to go out.
This sequence will be triggered as soon as a user opts-in. You should send them a welcome email immediately where you should explain who you are, what you do and what they can expect from you.
After the welcome email, you should send them at least 3-4 more educational emails with a focus to add value and build a relationship. You can repurpose your existing blogs posts or even videos for sending the emails. In fact, you can even direct them to the blog posts/videos.
You're now almost 80% done with your first sales funnel. In the next section, I will discuss how to sell your courses and setup a sales sequence.
Step #5: Selling Your Courses - Evergreen vs Closed Cart?
This is the most important step in your funnel and unless you get this part right, you won't get any results from your courses.
There are two popular methods of selling your online courses:
1. Closed Cart - These courses aren't always open for enrolment. You open the doors to your course for a few days and then close it. You can open your cart every 1-6 months depending on the size of your audience and number of courses you sell.
The major advantage of this strategy is that there is a time limit for enrolment that instils a sense of urgency which pushes the user to make a decision.
The disadvantage is that the course is not always open for enrolment and prospective students will have to wait for some time before getting access. Another disadvantage is that launching a course each time can be a time consuming process.
2. Evergreen Courses - These courses can be taken anytime and the user doesn't need to wait. The key to selling evergreen courses is automation. You need to automate every step in your evergreen funnel.
In order to make your evergreen funnel effective, you need to build some sort of urgency into your funnel by offering an evergreen bonus or an evergreen discount.
Now these evergreen sales funnel strategies are as effective as any closed cart strategies but they are difficult to implement and require some testing before you get success with them.
At this point, I recommend that you keep it simple and follow a closed cart approach. Once you make some sales, you can start thinking about automation and evergreen funnel strategies.
So, let me briefly discuss how to launch your online course. There are two phases to your course launch: Pre-Launch and Actual Launch.
In the Pre-Launch phase, the idea is to nurture your audience and prepare them for the course launch. You can send them blog posts, videos etc. via email. We have already talked about nurturing your subscribers in the previous section.
For your actual launch, I recommend that you follow a modified version of Teachable's 'Crazy 8 Launch Strategy'. Here's how it breaks down:
Day 1 - Course Teaser Email - Make an announcement that you'll be opening enrollment to your course soon. Introduce your course briefly here. Don't provide specific details about what's actually in the course.
Day 2 - "What is the Course Email" - Tell what's in your course. Talk about various modules and what the students can expect to get from each module. Also mention that the course cart will open tomorrow.
Day 3 - Course Opens Email (+48 hour discount) - Tell your users that the course is open for enrollment now. Include a link to the sales page and explain how they can enroll in the course. Also, mention that they get a special discount if they buy in the first 48 hours.
Day 4 - FAQ Email (Discount Reminder) - Answer the commonly asked questions for your course in this email. You must talk about how long they will have access to the course, money back guarantee, what's included in the course, payment options etc. Remind the users that the discount will expire in the next 24 hours.
Day 4 - Last Call for Discount Email - Say that the special discount is going to expire in the next 2 hours. Keep this email short and try to build a sense of urgency.
Day 6 - Case Study Email - Share a success story/case study about how what you're going to teach has helped someone else achieve results in the past.
Day 7 - Case Study Follow Up + Surprise Bonus Email - Build on the case study that you shared. Excite your audience and tell them that they can also achieve similar results. Also, offer a surprise bonus to your audience. You can either offer some other course/material, group coaching calls etc. as a bonus. Tell them that you want to make their decision to enroll in the course a no-brainer.
Day 8 - Thank You & Social Proof Email - Tell them how much you appreciate them being part of your launch. You should include some testimonials, social media messages etc. that will help you build social proof.
Day 9 - Logic + Cart Closes Email - Remind the users that the cart will be closing soon. Build a logic as to why they should buy now and make sure to mention your surprise bonus.
Day 10 - Cart Close Email 1 - Send a quick reminder to the users that this is the last day to enroll in the course and briefly summarize what they will miss out if they don't enroll. This email should go out around 9 AM in the morning.
Day 10 - Cart Close Email 2 - Send a last reminder to users that the cart will close soon and there is no way they can enroll in the course. This email should go out 2 hours before the cart closes.
Now, your actual launch strategy can differ based on your niche, your audience and your course pricing. This sort of an approach is ideal for launching your signature course.
However, if you are launching a lower end offer to your audience, you can simplify this launch sequence, and sending even 4-5 emails will work.
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Market & promote your online courses
You have made some significant progress; your course website and your sales funnel is live. But unless you market your content and drive traffic to your funnel, you won't be able to sell your online courses.
So, what you now need to do is to spread the word about your brand and drive traffic to your website. In fact, you should actually create a marketing strategy even before you start selling online courses from your own website.
There is no better time to start building an audience and building your list than now. Even if your course isn't ready yet, you should setup a sales funnel and start building your email list so that when you actually launch your course, you have an audience to which you can market it.
In order to help you market and promote your online courses, I have listed the 15 strategies that I have found to be most effective:
#1 - Start Your Own Blog
Blogging is an ideal way to attract and engage your potential customers. If you want to build a presence on the internet (which I'm sure you do), you should start a blog.
The key to success with blogging is to blog on a consistent basis. If you blog on a regular basis and if you put some effort in optimizing your blogs for search engines, you will build an audience for your courses sooner or later.
#2 - Build Your Presence on Social Media
There are different social media platforms where you can promote your online courses. Some of the popular ones include: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google+.
Based on your audience and your niche, choose 2-3 social platforms which you want to focus on in the beginning. You can then share your blog posts, videos and other interesting content from the internet with users on these platforms.
Say, if you intend to target users on Facebook, you will need to create a Facebook Page from where you can share content, do Facebook Live Events and even host giveaways to build an audience for your online courses.
#3 - Create a YouTube Channel
YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet and there are millions of people who visit YouTube for all sorts of video tutorials.
You can get started by creating a YouTube Channel and then publishing relevant videos on your channel. This will not just help you get traffic from YouTube but you can also rank for the search terms in Google.
Mark Lassoff from LearnToProgram.tv created a massive student following on his YouTube channel and uses that following to promote his online courses.
#4 - Sell an Online Course on Udemy
Udemy has millions of students on its platform and there is a high change that a number of these students would be interested in your course topic.
If you have a course which you intend to sell at say $99, there is no point in selling it on Udemy. You can rather create a shorter version of the course and put it on Udemy. You can either make it free or even sell it.
This will help you build an audience on Udemy. Even though you can't directly market your external courses to your Udemy students, you can always send these students to your blog and engage them on your website and grow your email list.
Building an audience on Udemy is faster compared to other content marketing strategies and so I highly recommend you try it.
#5 - Write Guest Posts
There are few strategies which are as effective as Guest Posting in helping beginners grow their audience. If you plan it carefully, Guest Posting will give you guaranteed results.
Guest posting is great because it helps you:
1) Get backlinks to your site and helps with SEO
2) Drive targeted traffic to your site
3) Build authority
You should come up with 5-6 content ideas which you haven't published on your own website. You can then reach out to smaller blogs that write on a similar topic and pitch them your ideas.
Targeting larger publication like Forbes in the beginning will be counter productive as your chances of getting accepted will be low.
In order to find guest post opportunities, do a Google Search with relevant queries:
- Your Keyword “guest post opportunities”
- Your Keyword “write for us”
- Your Keyword “submit blog post”
- Your Keyword “become a guest blogger”
- Your Keyword “guest posting guidelines”
#6 - Publish on LinkedIn Pulse
LinkedIn is another popular social networking site where you can promote your content.
The best way to promote your content on LinkedIn is by publishing on LinkedIn Pulse. You can either create original content or use some of your existing content and publish it on Pulse.
When I was growing supplychainmodeler.com, my first 500 subscribers came primarily from LinkedIn Pulse.
You can even include a call to action to join your list or promote your course directly.
#7 - Self-Publish an eBook on Amazon
Amazon is the #1 search engine for buying products online. It's very likely that you have an audience for your course(s) on Amazon and to tap into that audience base, you can repurpose your course content into an eBook and self-publish it on Amazon.
If your course is ready, you can hire someone on Upwork to create an eBook based on your course content.
Within the eBook, you can include links to your free or paid courses. You can use it to build your list and sell your courses.
#8 - Share a Presentation on SlideShare
SlideShare is a great place to share your presentations. You can actually use one of your course ppt and publish it on SlideShare.
You can include calls to actions within your slides and this way, you can drive some additional traffic to your website.
#9 - Comment in Facebook Groups
Search for a few Facebook groups related to your course topic and join a few of them. The key to success with this strategy is to not promote yourself directly but to add value and help others in the group.
This is one strategy that I have used extensively to grow my freelancing business. I am pretty active in a couple of FB groups and answer any questions that users have and help them without directly promoting myself.
The focus should be more on building relationship and authority and you can get some great results from this approach.
#10 - Promote Your Courses via Quora
Quora is a Q&A forum where users ask all sorts of questions. You can easily find questions which are relevant to your niche and then answer those questions.
The key here is to be less promotional and focus on adding value to the discussion.
And you can obviously include links to your website and your course(s) in your answer.
#11 - Market Your Course in Online Forums
This strategy is very similar to commenting in Facebook groups. You first need to find online forums which are related to your niche.
Once you find such forums, join them and start helping other users. You can answer their questions, provide them helpful content from your blog and your YouTube channel.
This will help you build a relationship with the forum users, and once you build authority and trust, you will see massive interest in your courses from these users.
#12 - Promote Your Courses via Facebook Ads
It's not as easy to drive traffic to your website organically as it used to be 5-6 years back. Plus, many of the organic traffic strategies take time to yield results.
As a result, you must consider using paid ads to drive targeted traffic to your blog posts and your landing pages. Depending on your niche, you might want to try Google Adwords or LinkedIn ads as well but you must try & test Facebook Ads for your online courses.
Using FB Ads, you can target users based on their demographics, interest and action and if done well, you will see some quick results.
#13 - Promote Your Content through Quuu
Quuu is a content promotion service that helps your content get shared across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. The content is shared by real users and I have seen positive ROI from my Quuu promotions.
To get started, you need to create an account and choose a plan. You can then submit your blog posts and once approved, Quuu will promote it across various social media channels.
#14 - Promote Your Online Courses through Affiliates
Affiliate marketing is really powerful and it can help you get results much quicker. The biggest advantage of affiliate marketing is that you don't need to spend money upfront. Rather, you share a certain % of revenue once a sale is made.
There are different ways in which you can find affiliates for your courses:
1) Reach out to bloggers in your niche
2) Partner with relevant YouTube Channels
3) Partner with admins of relevant Facebook groups and online forums
4) List your course on marketplaces like Clickbank
#15 - Search Engine Optimization
I am a big fan of Search Engine Optimization and I recommend every content creator should start focusing on SEO right from the start.
You should keep in mind that there is no shortcut to getting search engine traffic, and it will be months before you start seeing some results from your SEO efforts.
In order to succeed with search engines, you need to learn the basic principles of search engine optimization. There are two important things that you need to do for SEO:
1) On-page SEO - On-page SEO is about structuring your content in a search friendly manner and it includes things like using your focus keywords, optimizing title tags etc.
2) Off-page SEO - Off-page SEO is more about link building i.e. getting backlinks from other relevant websites. Search engines treat backlinks as an indicator of a site's authority.
Now It's Your Turn
I hope you enjoyed my step-by-step guide on How to Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website. What did you think of the guide?
Or maybe you have a question.
Either way, let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.