Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re in the process of creating an online course and are looking to have a successful launch. Or maybe you’re already a seasoned course creator looking to launch a course better and stronger this time around. Regardless of where you are in experience, EVERY online course creator can benefit from reviewing this checklist. In general terms, building a successful online course involves three key tasks: Creating the right offer and attracting the right audience Launching the course successfully Achieving Student Success Working with my fair share of companies, I know how daunting and challenging all this can seem. As a result, I created this 6-week checklist to help guide you through the online course launch process. Week #1: Set Course Launch Goals Ever play darts? The rules are pretty simple. The main object is to hit parts of the board with the highest points—the highest scoring part being the bullseye. Now, imagine the game without targets. How would you know what to aim for?
You’ve decided to create an online course. You spend time, money, and effort learning how to create a successful course. Finally, after months of hard work, your course finally launches. You’re excited and it seems like your excitement is rubbing off on your students. People are starting to buy your course—not to mention a nice stream of revenue is quickly growing.
It always amazes me how course creators will put massive amounts of effort towards creating and developing a course, but fail to think twice about WHO they’re trying to sell the course to (a.k.a. their ideal client).
Ask anyone what their least favorite part of school was and I guarantee you’ll get this answer: tests. Test’s lack of favorability amongst students may be the reason why you’re tempted to ditch them all together in your online course—but don’t be fooled! Retrieving information has been proven to create long-term and meaningful learning, allowing students to recall and apply lessons learned.
Knowledge is more accessible than ever thanks to online learning. In addition to giving millions of people around the world access to industry insight, the online course market has also given entrepreneurs the opportunity to get paid for sharing their knowledge. If you’re reading this post, chances are, you are an entrepreneur looking to start your own online course business. According to “Entrepreneurial DNA” author and BOSI Global founder Joe Abraham, there are four types of entrepreneurs. You have Builders, Specialists, Innovators, and Opportunists. No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, you can also benefit from becoming an edupreneur . Here’s why you need to start an online course according to your entrepreneur type: 1) Builder – Increase Your Reach You’re motivated by the desire to build a highly scalable business within a short period of time. While turning a profit is important to you, you measure success through business growth and infrastructure. So why should Builders enter the e-learning space? Increase your visibility. Thanks to the Internet, you’ll be able to sell your course to a wider audience—giving you a greater chance of expansion. Create passive income. You want growth and you want it fast. Income plateaus are an especially frustrating thing for Builders. An online course can help you counter income plateaus by creating another channel of sustainable income. Developing and launching your course may take a significant effort initially, but stick through it, and you’ll be awarded with a nice stream of passive income. If you’re just starting out, read this article: 5 Steps to Creating a Profitable Online Course (And Mistakes to Avoid) 2) Specialist – Establish Your Reputation As a Specialist, you tend to lean more analytical and risk-averse. In business, you value networking and referrals most.
Digital badges are everywhere. Don’t believe me? Just check your favorite app. Let’s take LinkedIn. You’ve probably seen the gold “In” logo on someone’s profile to signal that they’re a “premium” user (you may even have one yourself). The square logo both displays user status while encouraging other users to purchase a “premium” membership. This is a form of digital badge. In simple terms, badges are an element of gamification that represent the achievement, skill, accomplishment or ranking of a student. From just passing a test or a student moving up to the next level of a membership site, badges can be issued to make them aware we are proud of their achievement, which in turn can motivate them to continue moving forward and increase their level of engagement. Digital badges are actually what I like to call “magic technology”. Because of their numerous benefits, I encourage you to incorporate them into your online course today. Here are the 4 ways you can get onboard: 1) Establish a Reward System From the Army to the Boy Scouts, badges have been used to reward accomplishments and recognize top performing members. Digital badges in education can have this same role. You can use badges to shape user behavior. For instance, if you want your students to be more active on your membership site, reward already the most active users with a badge. Not only will this make engaged students feel “seen,” but it will also encourage less active students to increase their engagement. Rewarding students is also an effective way to help students associate learning with something positive. Badges give students immediate validation, as well as encourage them to consume more content in order to collect more badges to get to the next level.
Wouldn’t be great if your online course could just itself? While it’s nice to believe that a good course will “just sell itself,” this thought is both unrealistic and potentially discouraging, as it can cause course creators to believe that a lack of sales is a result of a flaw in their product rather than their marketing plan. To be frank, it doesn’t matter how great your course is if you don’t promote it to the right people, at the right time, the right way. Your information could be worth its weight in gold, but if you lack visibility, people aren’t going to know who you are or what you’re selling. If you do succeed in capturing the attention of your target audience, your concern then shifts to how to convert these people into paying customers. They’re on your site now…but then what? You know you need to keep your visitors engaged with valuable content and have them subscribe or buy your products…but how? And this isn’t even the end of it. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. I’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you effectively market and sell your online course to your target audience.
Let’s say you’re teaching an online course on how to build a successful online business. Now, imagine your course attract hundreds of new customers, and you’re making thousands of dollars a month, WOW…that sound like a successful online course business, right? But what if I told you that only 8% of students actually finish the courses they buy? And of those that do end your course, most of them forget or don’t apply what they learned. ZERO results. NO outcomes. Would you still say your course is successful? Too often, course creators get lost in the numbers. They put all their energy into attracting new customers and generating income but fall short in understanding their needs and desires. They fail to engage, retain, and (most importantly) educate their students. And as a result, their course fails to produce value. Successful course creators are invested in the potential and performance of their students. They know that positive client experience is correlated to client value and course success. Here are five components every successful online course has in common. They Produce Student Outcomes. There’s a reason why your students are taking your course. They want to achieve an outcome. Failing to help your client achieve this outcome will result in them becoming dissatisfied with your course, leading to poor engagement and eventually, leave your course and never finish it. To counter this, you need to understand why your students are taking your online course and center your course material and resources around these desires. You also need to give them actionable tools to produce tangible, real-world results. For instance, at the end of each module, give them spreadsheets and cheat sheets – this will help me take action and do something with the recently learned knowledge. Tangible results allow your members to see in what way(s) your course is making an impact on their lives. Your members believe your course will give them a “transformation” that they could not have achieved otherwise. Depending on the topic of your course, your students’ desired transformations could be anything from learning how to code a website to make a successful career change. Be sure also to send your students updates on how they’re working towards their objective. One way would be to send them a bulleted summary of the topics they learned in the previous lessons and how it will help them in their lives (personally, professionally, etc.). Allowing members to see what they’re gaining from course WHILE they’re taking it and not just after, will help increase student completion and retention rates. If your student completes your course, applies the material to their life, and has a positive experience in doing so, then you’ve succeeded in making an impact. Also, you’ve also succeeded in gaining a valuable client. Satisfied customers will take additional courses from you, as well as recommend new customers to your site. Their Content is User and Mobile Friendly.
Let’s talk about churn. What’s referred to as “churn” is simply the rate in which you’re losing members over a designated period. To calculate your churn rate for the month, divide how many members you’ve lost within the month by how many members you had at the beginning of the month. If you want to find your yearly churn rate, use the same formula but with how many members you had at the beginning of the year and how many you’ve lost within the year instead. Keep in mind that even best-managed companies experience churn, so don’t be upset if your rate isn’t 0%. However, given that churn means you’re losing subscribers, you’ll want to have the lowest rate possible. Research shows that 53% of all causes of customer churn are due to these three leading causes: Poor Onboarding, Weak Relationship Building, and Poor Customer Service. As a membership site owner, it’s important you do everything you can to stay on top of membership attrition and do your part to minimize it. So, to help you conquer the top reasons why members leave, I’ve laid out 5 steps that you can add to your membership site today. Step #1: Member Onboarding Ever get a rush of adrenaline after making a purchase? Well, so you do your customers! Members are the most connected to your membership site immediately after joining. Seize this opportunity to practice member onboarding, which is the process of integrating your new customers into your site effectively. The sooner members are set up, the sooner they can consume your content.
As you build your membership site, it’s natural to begin thinking of ways to increase your profits and earn more every month. While that’s undoubtedly vital to scaling your business, don’t lose sight of another even more important goal: being able to build sustainable profitable growth. Unfortunately, so many membership site owners lose themselves in big picture plans—failing to organize their growth and blindly piling up expenses. I created a list of Dos and Don’ts to help you maximize your success. Do: Find Your Niche Deciding on the subject of your content is one of the most important decisions you can make. It may sound easy to just pick a subject that’s “hot” and “trendy,” but I promise you–teaching something you’re passionate about will only make your course more valuable. Once you have a subject in mind, take time to research the target market audience. The smaller and more specialized your niche is, the better. Most people don’t realize this, but a niche membership site is a great way to build a following full of loyal customers. A loyal following is a sure way to drive more referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations.