How to Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website

The complete, step-by-step guide for selling online courses in 2018

How to Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website

You have an online course but you don't know how to sell it. You may even have tried a few sales & marketing strategies but none of them seem to work.

Or, you're still working on creating your online course and want to build an audience to launch your course to once it is ready.

Or, you just have a course idea and you want to make a business out of it.

I know that selling online is not easy and is the #1 thing that course creators struggle with. 

And that's the reason I have created this epic, step-by-step guide where I am going to show you everything you need to know and do in order to successfully sell online courses from your own website.

Let’s dive right in.

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Introduction

Selling online courses has completely changed the lives of so many ordinary people like you and me. 

I personally know many course creators who regularly make 5-figure and even 6-figure income every month by selling online courses.

More importantly, such success stories aren't just limited to a few make money online niches. Rather there are thousands of successful course creators who earn a full time income by sharing their passion in a variety of niches.

There is something about selling online courses that attracts so many entrepreneurs and is helping them to transform their lives completely.

So, let me share with you the top 5 reasons why you too should be selling courses in 2018.

Why Sell Online Courses?

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    Everyone can teach online no matter what their niche is. You can make money online teaching yoga, photography, web design, cooking or for that matter anything that's worth sharing with others and in the process, you will help make the world a better place.
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    Selling online courses is one of the best ways to make money online. The amount of money that course creators make on an average is significantly higher than those who make money by selling ads on their blogs, via videos on their Youtube channels or even by selling eBooks.
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    Online courses are digital products which you create once but can sell for years. More importantly, you income isn't determined based on the number of hours you work. As a result, online courses are ideal from a scalability point of view and as well as from a passive income point of view.
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    The eLearning industry is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025 as per the Global eLearning Market Analysis & Trends report. eLearning industry has major growth potential and we're going to see more and more students turn to online courses to further their education.
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    The barrier to teaching online has come down significantly. The technology has made it really easy for you to host & sell online courses from your own website even with a small budget.

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.


CHAPTER 1

Get Your Course Online

Before you can start selling it, you need to get your course online!

In order to do that, you need an online course platform that will let you host your course content, create members area and deliver your course.

The good news is that you as a course creator have quite a few options for hosting & selling online courses.

Related Post: 21 of the Best Online Course Platforms (and Counting)

More importantly, the technology has made it really easy for you to build your course website and you don't need to have coding skills or be tech-savvy in order to do that.

I have helped hundreds of creators build their course websites on all the popular online course platforms including WordPress.

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 easy-to-use, integrated solution that allows content creators to create & sell online courses through the platform even if they have no tech skills.

With Teachable, 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 20,000 course creators, including big names like Pat Flynn and Melyssa Griffin, use Teachable to host and sell their online courses.

Related Post: The Ultimate Teachable Review & Tutorial

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:

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    Teachable is easy to use & setup. 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.
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    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.
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    Teachable takes care of all the techy stuff for you including things like hosting, site performance, security, backups, updates and maintenance. Their team takes care of all these stuff which saves a lot of time and lets you focus on more important things like creating courses and selling them.
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    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.
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    Teachable 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.

Workshop: Create Your Course Website on Teachable

Watch this video where I will show you how to create your course website on Teachable:

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CHAPTER 2

Build a Sales Funnel to Generate Leads

​​​​In order to sell online courses from your own website, you need a sales funnel.

Even if your course is not ready yet, you should have a minimum viable funnel in place to collect leads and grow your audience while you work on creating course content.

What is 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.

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: 

what is a sales funnel

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, Quora answers etc. 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 and building trust.

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!

This is a broad framework for your sales funnel and your exact strategy will depend on a number of other 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.

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 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. He has a dedicated landing page for the email course.

Jumpstart Your Email List Course

Once you subscribe, he sends 6 autoresponder emails where he shares tips for building an email list.

Email Sequence for Online Courses

How Nathan from StationX does it?

Nathan from StationX offers a lead magnet on his blog posts using slide-in type opt-in forms. 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. 

StationX Lead Magnet

How Digital Marketer does it?

Digital Marketer is one of the best places to learn about building sales funnels. They have a landing page where they give away Facebook Ad Templates.

Digital Marketer Landing Page

Once you enter your email address and sign up, you're taken to this Thank You page where you will see a message confirming successful sign up.

You will also see a special offer for The $10 a Day Traffic Plan. This is called a tripwire and it is generally a low-value, introductory offer in your funnel. 

Digital Marketer Tripwire

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 various creators.

Now, 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 free content related to 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. The free content can be in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media posts and even images.

One of the main objectives of creating free content is to drive traffic to your funnel. So, you can create a Youtube Channel to share videos or create a blog to share articles or create images for Instagram or just comment regularly in Facebooks groups.

I'll discuss traffic in detail in the last chapter but you should get an idea of how it works.

Let me give you an example as well. If your course is say 'How to Lose Weight in 90 Days'. You might create content like these:

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    10 deadly side effects of obesity
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    10 tips to lose body weight quickly
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    How to lose weight and still feel strong
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    Three things that's stopping you from losing weight
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    Five weight loss equipment 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 your content shouldn't be completely unrelated to your course topic and they should focus on making the users aware about the problem that your course targets, and then you can also offer smaller solutions in your posts.

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.

Lead Magnet for Online Courses

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:

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    Weight loss checklist
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    30-day weight loss challenge
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    Diet plan for weight loss
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    Excel-based weight loss tracker
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    Weight loss exercise guide
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    Weight loss quiz

Once you finalize a lead magnet idea, you can format your content and create a good looking lead magnet yourself using a tool like Canva or you can get it done by a freelancer on Fiverr or Upwork.

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. The offer can be a lead magnet or even a paid course or an ebook.

You must have seen pages like these:

How Ramit Sethi Sells His Online Courses
Digital Marketer Landing Page

These are examples of landing pages. Now landing pages are really effective at converting visitors into subscribers and so, 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. Basically you'll either leverage the free content that you created in the first step or run paid ads to drive traffic to your landing page(s).

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 buy a low priced ebook or a mini course.

Art and Success Landing Page

Now, if you were to create a landing page on your own, you'll need to know how to code, have good design skills and spend numerous hours testing various elements before you can create a highly effective landing page.

So, I recommend that you use a landing page builder to build your landing pages. A good landing page builder will make it easy for you to create landing pages and more importantly achieve higher conversion rates.

Related Post: The 9 Best Landing Page Builders (and How to Choose the Right One)

The good news is that there are many options out there in the market and the bad news is that finding the right one can get pretty confusing and frustrating.

So, here are the three landing page builders that I recommend and you can choose the one that is right for you based on your budget, tech skills and your marketing expertise:

#1: Leadpages

Leadpages is the most popular landing page builder in the market. It has hundreds of high converting landing page templates and has a easy to use drag-and-drop page builder.

Leadpages pricing starts at $37/month ($25/mo paid annually) and is one of the most reasonably priced landing page creators in the market.

Ease of use combined with reasonable pricing makes it the most beginner friendly landing page builder and so, it is ideal for those just getting started with online marketing.

Get a 14-day Free Trial of Leadpages

#2: ClickFunnels

ClickFunnels is more than just a landing page builder as it lets you build end-to-end sales funnels. 

As part of a sales funnel, ClickFunnels lets you build all the pages including the checkout pages, accept payments, add upsells and downsells and even create an affiliate program.

Related Post: ClickFunnels vs Leadpages Review: The Ultimate (No Fluff) Guide

While ClickFunnels is a feature-rich solution, it is a little expensive and it's pricing starts at $97/month and so, it is ideal for those who are already seeing some momentum in their business.

Get a 14-day Free Trial of ClickFunnels

#3: Thrive Architect

Thrive Architect is the #1 WordPress based landing page creator. It has a powerful drag-and-drop page editor that's easy to use and allows you to build any design you want.

This is also one of the least expensive options for building landing pages if you already have a WordPress site. You can get access to Thrive Architect by paying $67 one time or by subscribing to their Membership for $19/month (paid annually).

However, you'll need a WordPress site to build landing pages using Thrive Architect and I recommend you go this way only if you're WordPress-savvy. If you're a beginner, this is certainly not the right option for you.

Check Out Thrive Architect

While landing pages are the most effective way of presenting your offer, you can also use various types of opt-in forms on your homepage, blog posts and other pages on your website.

For example, If you go to Neil Patel's website and try to leave it, a popup form 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.

Neil Patel Popup Form

Another type of opt-in form that we see on Brian Dean's website is a widget opt-in form. You can also place a form like this on your blog page and blog posts.

The_Backlinko_SEO_Blog_by_Brian_Dean

Another opt-in type that is really popular is inline forms (or within content forms). Once you click on this button, a popup will appear which will ask you to enter your email address in order to get the freebie.

Content Upgrades for Online Courses

These are all examples of opt-in forms and they're an effective tool for conversion if you run a blog. They won't work if you use Youtube or FB Ads to drive traffic.

When it comes to creating opt-in forms for your site, you have so many options. 

You can either use specialized tools (e.g. Sumo, Thrive Leads or OptinMonster) to create opt-in forms or you can use the the forms provided by your email service provider (e.g. ConvertKit, MailChimp). Obviously, the latter is limited in functionality.

You have a third option as well where you can use the popup forms provided by your landing page builder (e.g. Leadpages, ClickFunnels).

Now the opt-in forms can display the same offers that you display on your landing pages. So, when should you use landing pages vs opt-in forms?

Landing pages are effective for promoting your lead magnets directly via social media or Youtube videos or 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.

Not building an email list right from the word go is one of the most common mistakes that course creators make. Most creators start thinking about sales funnels and email list only after their course is live.

In fact, you should build a sales funnel and focus on growing your email list as soon as you pick your niche and finalize your course topic so that by the time your online course is ready, you've an audience to sell your course to.


CHAPTER 3

Leverage Email Marketing to Engage Your Subscribers

You must have heard people saying that nothing is as important for your online business as your email list.

While this is true, you need to realize that your email list is as useful as it is engaged and collecting leads through a funnel is just the first step towards building that engaged email list. 

It's very unlikely that a subscriber will purchase your course as soon as he/she subscribes and turn into a paying customer. 

So, if you want your subscribers to buy your online courses and other products, you first need to turn them into engaged subscribers who know, like & trust you.

So, how do you engage your subscribers? The answer lies in email marketing.

Email is the most effective communication channel for reaching out to your subscribers and you can leverage it to engage them as well as pitch your products and services to them.

And you'll need an email service provider in order to manage your email marketing. You need an email marketing solution so that you can store the subscriber information, send them emails and most importantly, automate email marketing.

There are quite a few options in the market and some of the popular ones include: MailChimp, ConvertKit, Drip and ActiveCampaign.

However, the email marketing solution that I recommend is ConvertKit.

ConvertKit is a popular email service provider that offers powerful automation capabilities but at the same time is easy to use and affordable, making it ideal for online creators.

Related Post: ConvertKit Review & Tutorial: Easy Email Automation for Creators

Here are some of the reasons why I recommend ConverKit:

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    Super easy to use
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    Powerful Visual Automation Builder
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    Tag-based system to manage your subscribers
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    Ability to create various form types for your blog/website
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    Ideal for content upgrades
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    Awesome customer support

ConvertKit's price starts at $29/month. Even though the price is reasonable, the starting price can be a little steep if you're just getting started with selling online courses. 

But if you can afford it, it will be worth every penny you invest into it.

If you are really tight on budget and can't afford ConvertKit, you can check MailChimp as it offers a free plan for upto 2,000 subscribers. 

Deliver Your Lead Magnet

The first thing that you need to do as soon as someone signs up is to send the promised freebie immediately. 

You can easily deliver your lead magnet through your email service provider. Otherwise landing page builders like Leadpages and ClickFunnels let you deliver your lead magnet as well.

Deliver Your Lead Magnet

If you use ConvertKit, setting up and delivering a lead magnet delivery is very easy. They allow you to create incentive emails where you can upload your lead magnet and send it to your new subscribers automatically.

Deliver Lead Magnet via ConvertKit

Create a Welcome Sequence for Your Subscribers

Next you want to create and setup a series of automated emails for your new subscribers. The basic idea behind sending a welcome email series is to provide value to your subscribers and build trust with them.

A well written welcome sequence goes a long way in helping you build a relationship with your subscribers. It also helps you train them to open your emails and click on the links in them.

That's the reason I recommend that you must send a welcome campaign that focuses solely on educating your subscribers and engaging them.

There are different approaches that you can take while creating a welcome email campaign. But the first email that you should send in this series has to be a welcome/introduction email that goes out immediately upon subscription. 

The welcome email is super important and it should do a few things:

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    Tell your subscribers who you are
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    Tell them what they can expect from you
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    Point them to your best content
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    Segment them based on their interest

Here's an example of a welcome email that I like:

Send Welcome Email to Subscribers

Apart from the welcome email, you should send 4-5 additional emails as part of the welcome campaign over next 7-10 days.

One option is to create an email course where you teach your subscribers something of value and something related to your online course. This works pretty well for selling online courses as it helps you build trust, establish your authority as well as generate demand for your online course.

This is how Brennan Dunn's Double Your Freelancing email course looks in my inbox:

Double Your Freelancing Email Course

Another option is to repurpose your existing blogs posts or even videos for sending the emails. In fact, you can even write short emails and then direct your subscribers to the blog posts/videos.

Teachable uses this strategy for engaging new creators who sign up on their blog. Here's how their welcome campaign looked in my inbox:

Teachable Welcome Sequence

You can also create an email series where you just tell your subscribers about some common mistakes users make in the industry or even just tell them about some common myths.

My friend Nathan sends his subscribers emails about myths in the cyber security industry and this is how it looks:

Nathan Welcome Emails

There are just a few ideas for creating your welcome email campaign. There are so many other things that you can do like sending free resources, youtube videos or even articles from other blogs.

Once your email sequence is ready, you need to set it up in your email service provider so that the new subscribers receive it automatically.

If you use ConvertKit, you can easily create an email sequence where you can add as many emails as you want, add content to your emails and create a schedule for sending them.

And once the email sequence is setup in ConvertKit, you can use their automation to trigger the welcome email campaign.

Create an Email Sequence in ConvertKit

If you have an evergreen course, you can transition your subscribers into a sales campaign as soon as they complete the welcome sequence (we'll talk more about selling your courses in the last chapter).

However, if your course isn't open for enrolment currently or isn't ready yet, you will have nothing to sell to them immediately.

In this case, you need to make sure that your subscribers are constantly engaged and so, you need to send them emails on a regular basis. 

One option is to put your subscribers into your regular newsletter and this is the best option for you if you're just getting started.

Another option is to create a fully automated newsletter that runs without any regular involvement from you. In fact, some creators automate their emails for as much as a year.

However, this is an advanced strategy and I would recommend you to keep it simple in the beginning.

The important thing is not automation but to keep communicating with your subscribers and not stopping after sending the initial emails. 

You now have a minimum viable funnel up & running and you can start sending people to it now without worrying about whether your online course is ready or not. 

In the next section, I will show you how to drive traffic to this funnel and grow your audience.

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CHAPTER 4

Drive Traffic to Your Course Funnel

You have made some significant progress, your sales funnel is live and you have also setup a follow up sequence to nurture your subscribers. So, what you now need to do is to drive traffic to your funnel.

Driving traffic is the most important for building your audience and is also the #1 thing that course creators struggle with.

I see course creators making some common mistakes when it comes to creating a traffic strategy for their funnel:

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    If You Build It, They Will Come - It is really surprising to find so many people actually believing in this theory. They create a course with an expectation that people will find it on their own and then purchase it.
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    Driving Traffic = Facebook Ads - Another mistake that many course creators make is to think of Facebook Ads as the only/main source of traffic which is far from being true.
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    Get Traffic from Everywhere - Many course creators struggle with traffic because they try to drive traffic from every possible source instead of focusing on 2-3 traffic sources.

In order to market and promote your online courses, you need to avoid making these mistakes while creating your traffic strategy.

Now, let me share with you the 16 strategies that I have found to be most effective for getting traffic to your funnel:

#1 - Start Your Own Blog

Blogging is an ideal way to attract and engage your potential customers. If you want to build a strong presence on the internet (which I'm sure you do), you should consider starting 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.

Related Post: How to Start a Blog in 2018: A Step-by-Step Guide

#2 - Start 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.

#3 - 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.

Create a Free Course on Udemy

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.

Related Post: Teachable vs Udemy for Selling Online Courses

#4 - 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:

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    Get backlinks to your site and helps with SEO
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    Drive targeted traffic to your site
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    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:

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    Your Keyword + “guest post opportunities”
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    Your Keyword + “write for us”
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    Your Keyword + “submit blog post”
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    Your Keyword + “become a guest blogger”
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    Your Keyword + “guest posting guidelines”

#5 - Build Your Presence on Facebook

Facebook is the largest social media platform and you can use it to promote content in any niche. You can share your blog posts, videos and other interesting content from the internet with Facebook users.

To get started, you will need to create a Facebook Page from where you can share your content, do Facebook Live Events and even host giveaways to build an audience for your online courses.

Another effective strategy to build a highly engaged audience on Facebook is to create a FB group.

#6 - Share Images on Pinterest

Pinterest is another popular social media channel which you can use to share your images and infographics. You can then drive traffic to your website by including a link to your website or landing page in the post.

If you have a blog and if you can create images on a regular basis in your niche, Pinterest is a social channel that you should consider for promoting your online courses.

#7 - 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 my brand Supply Chain Modeler, my first 500 subscribers came primarily from LinkedIn Pulse.

Publish on LinkedIn Pulse

You can even include a call to action to join your list or promote your course directly.

#8 - 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.

Sell Online Courses on Amazon

#9 - 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.

#10 - 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.

#11 - 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 landing pages and your course(s) in your answer.

Promote Online Courses on Quora

#12 - 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.

#13 - Promote Your Courses via Paid 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 should 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 Facebook Ads, Google Adwords or LinkedIn 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.

#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:

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    Reach out to bloggers in your niche
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    Partner with relevant YouTube Channels
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    Partner with admins of relevant Facebook groups and online forums
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    List your course on affiliate marketplaces like Clickbank

#15 - Run a Giveaway

One of the best ways to quickly grow your email list is to run a giveaway. In order to run a giveaway, you need to find some products, either physical or digital that your audience will find enticing.

Once you select a prize, you'll need to setup your giveaway. To setup your viral giveaway, you should use a tool like Interact that lets you give extra entries to users for sharing your giveaway on social media and email.

However, keep in mind that the subscribers that you get from giveaways will be less engaged than your other subscribers and you should weigh in on this before deciding to run a contest.

#16 - Search Engine Optimization

I am a big fan of Search Engine Optimization and I recommend that should start focusing on SEO if you create content like blogs or videos on a regular basis. SEO is one of the main sources of traffic for this blog as well as a couple of my other blogs.

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 but believe me, it will be worth it.

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:

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    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.
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    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.

These are just some of the most popular strategies to promote your online courses. There are so many other channels through which you can promote and market them.

You should also realize that you don't necessarily need to run paid ads in order to grow your audience. If you're ready to put in the hard work, you can grow your audience using the most simple strategy of commenting in relevant Facebook groups.

PRO TIP: You shouldn't try to use every possible marketing strategy in order to drive traffic to your sales funnel.  Rather, you should focus on a couple of strategies that you think will be the most effective in helping you grow your audience.

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CHAPTER 5

Sell Your Course to Your Audience

You have put in some really hard work to build an audience and engage them and now it's time to sell your online course to them.

This is in a sense the most important step in the entire process because everything you have done till now will be of no use unless you get this part right and your subscribers buy your course.

So, let's start by discussing the two popular methods of selling your online course: 

Closed Cart vs Evergreen Courses

You can either sell your online course using a closed cart approach where the course opens for a few days (launch period) for enrolment and then closes or you can sell it as an evergreen course which is always open for enrolment.

If you follow the first approach, you can open your cart every 1-6 months depending on the size of your audience and number of courses you sell. The course will be open for enrolment for a few days and once the launch period is over, the cart will close.

Bryan Harris from VideoFruit.com uses this technique for his Get 10,000 Subscribers program. When you try to enrol in the program after the launch period is over, you will be taken to this page where you are asked to join the waiting list.

Launch Your Online Course

The major advantage of this strategy is that there is a time limit for enrolment that instils a strong sense of urgency and pushes users to make a decision. Also, the students join your course in batches, so you can work more closely with them.

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.

The other approach is to make your online course evergreen. Evergreen courses can be taken anytime and the user doesn't need to wait.

Melyssa Griffin's course Pinfinite Growth is always open for enrolment. She sells this course mainly through her automated webinar funnel.

Pinfite Growth Evergreen Course

The key to selling an evergreen course is automating your sales funnel which means you can focus on driving traffic and testing your funnel and email sequences on a regular basis. This is what I like the most about evergreen courses.

However, it's relatively difficult to incorporate a strong sense of urgency into your evergreen sales funnel because you'll need to offer a bonus or a discount which is unique for every subscriber.

So, I recommend that you keep it simple in the beginning! If you're selling a premium course ($200 and above), I recommend you follow a closed cart approach. 

Selling a lower priced course is relatively easy and you don't need a similar sense of urgency in order to sell it. So, I recommend that you sell a non-premium course as an evergreen course.

But that is not to say that you can't sell a premium priced course as an evergreen course. There are evergreen sales funnel strategies which are as effective as any closed cart strategy but they are difficult to implement and we'll discuss them later in this chapter.

Create a Sales Page for Your Online Course

In order to sell an online course, you first need to create a sales page. A sales page is a type of landing page that describes your course to your audience and convinces them to sign up for it.

You must have purchased an online course or an e-Book yourself from a page like this. This is an example of an online course sales page:

Online Course Sales Page Example

It is at this stage that your potential customers decide whether to enrol in your course or not and so, your sales page can actually make or break the success of your online course.

So, it is really important to get it right and here are some elements that a killer sales page should have:

  • A compelling headline that immediately grabs your reader's attention and also conveys your course topic
  • Relatable text that conveys your reader's pain points and convinces them that they need to fix it
  • Course description that introduces your course as a solution to the problem that your potential customers are facing
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    Author bio that introduces you as an expert, showcases your experience and helps establish credibility
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    Testimonials from past students/clients that help build social proof and thus boost your credibility
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    Pricing section that tells readers the price of your course and also the payment options available to them
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    A money back guarantee that reassures your readers that their investment is risk free
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    FAQ section that answers the commonly asked questions
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    Multiple call to action buttons that make it easy for your readers to sign up for your course

Apart from the copy, it's important to have a good design for your sales page as well. Make it a point to use a lot of high quality & relevant images on your sales page.

As far as the tech for building your sales page is concerned, you can create your sales page either using Teachable or using your landing page builder like ClickFunnels and Leadpages.

A good sales page can go a long way in boosting your sales conversion and so, you should try to create a killer sales page for your online course.

Launch Your Online Course

Whether you're launching a new course or you're opening the doors to an existing course, you need to get your launch strategy absolutely right.

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 launch. You can send blog posts, videos etc. via email that will help educate your subscribers about the problem that your course solves.

As far as number of emails are concerned, you should send at least 4 emails over a period of 7 days.

In the last email that you send in the Pre-Launch phase, make an announcement that you'll be opening enrollment to your course soon. Introduce your course briefly here but don't provide specific details about what's actually in the course.

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 - "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 2 - Course Opens Email (+24 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 24 hours.

Day 3 - Last Call for Discount Email - Say that the special discount is going to expire in the next 3 hours. Keep this email short and try to build a sense of urgency.

Day 5 - FAQ Email - Answer the commonly asked questions for your course and tackle common objections in this email. You should talk about how long they will have access to the course, money back guarantee, what's included in the course, payment options etc. 

Day 6 - Surprise Bonus Email - Announce a surprise bonus to your audience. You can offer some other course, ebook, group coaching calls etc. as a bonus. Tell them that you want to make their decision to enrol 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 enrol in the course and briefly summarize what they will miss out if they don't enrol. This email should go out 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 enrol in the course. This email should go out 2-3 hours before the cart closes.

Related Post: How to Launch an Online Course [Ultimate Step-By-Step Guide]

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 priced course (say $99) to your audience, you can simplify this launch sequence, and sending even 4-5 emails will work.

Selling an Evergreen Course

There are some strong arguments in favour of keeping your online course enrolment always open and the strongest one is that your students can enrol in your course anytime they want and they don't need to wait for your next launch.

If your evergreen course is a lower end offer (e.g. priced at $49), you can sell it using a simple 4-part sales sequence that follows the welcome campaign that you send upon subscription:

Day 1 - Introduce Your Course - Introduce your course, explain what's in the course, what they get when they buy it and what they can expect to learn from it as well. 

Day 2 - Overcome Objections - Tackle all the objections that your potential customers might have and help them decide whether the course is right for them or not. You should also answer questions related to target audience, refund policy etc.

Day 4 - Case Study & Social Proof Email - Include any testimonials from your past students or clients. If possible, include a case study and share how you helped your student get results in the past. Tell them they can also get similar results by enrolling in the course.

Day 5 - Opportunity Cost Email - Create a sense of urgency by pointing out the opportunity cost of not enrolling in your course now. Build a case of why they should enrol now and remind them that there is a money back guarantee, so it's a no-brainer.

If someone doesn't buy the course during your evergreen campaign, you should put them into your regular newsletter so that you can keep them engaged and sell again in the future.

While this sort of an approach works well for selling lower priced courses, it won't be effective for selling premium priced courses and the simple reason is that your subscribers will need a stronger push to purchase a higher priced course. 

In order to make a stronger push, you need to offer a special discount or a special bonus which is available only for a limited time but at the same time is unique for each subscriber.

In order to achieve this, you'll need to use a tool called Deadline Funnel that lets you create evergreen deadlines which are unique to your subscribers.

Deadline Funnel tracks your visitors using both IP and cookies and thus lets you create an expiring offer that is genuine and your users can't see an expired offer simply by visiting the page in a private window or a new browser.

Related Post: How to Create an Evergreen Sales Funnel that Actually Sells

Deadline Funnel is an expensive software and there is a steep learning curve attached to it as well. So, I don't recommend that you use Deadline Funnel if you're just getting started.

This will overcomplicate things which isn't desired in the beginning and so, a closed cart approach would be the best option for you to sell your premium courses initially.

However, if you've been selling your online course using a closed cart approach and you're exhausted because of doing repeat launches, you should consider automating your sales funnel and a tool like Deadline Funnel would be a perfect fit for this scenario.


Conclusion & What's Next?

In this guide, you learned in detail how to sell online courses from your own website. We went through all the steps that are involved in the process right from getting your course online to building an audience and selling to them.

Now it's your turn to implement what you've learned in this guide and while doing that, try to keep things simple in the beginning.

It's very unlikely that you're going to get everything right the first time. So, focus on getting things done rather than aiming for perfection. And you can always tweak and improve things as you move forward.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that there are no shortcuts to building a sustainable online business and you'll need to put in some serious work before you'll get any significant results. But if you do things the right way, believe me the results will be worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on How to Sell Online Courses from Your Own Website. You can download a PDF copy of this guide and take it offline. 

If you’re new to selling online courses, it’ll be extremely helpful to go through this guide a second time, even referencing it when you go out and try putting everything into action.

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.