How to launch an online course with ConvertKit (step-by-step)

Courses Monetize Your List
17 min read
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You’re ready to launch your online course and you know it’s a good one that will help your students get results.

But there’s only one problem: the tech setup intimidates you. Learning the ins and outs of a course platform, sending emails to customers, building a sales page—it feels like so much can go wrong.

But it doesn’t have to be intimidating. As long as you know what you’re teaching, this guide will help you deliver it to your students. We’re covering all options and steps to create and sell an online course with ConvertKit Commerce. All you need to do is take action.

If you don’t have a ConvertKit account yet, make sure to grab a free account (up to 1,000 subscribers) here.

Get your course content ready

Before we get to the tools and setup for launching your course, make sure you have your course content at hand. This should include:

  • The title
  • An outline: lesson titles, order, and main outcome for each session
  • Course materials: videos, text, images
  • Extra materials: workbooks, cheat sheets, templates, checklists (as PDFs, Google Sheets, etc.)

Keep your course content organized in a dedicated folder—on your computer, Google Drive, or Dropbox—somewhere you can easily grab the right lesson in just a few clicks. This is to make sure your course isn’t scattered across dozens of places in your digital world so you can get to your launch faster.

Build your course sales page

Sales pages in ConvertKit are generated once you create a product. Head to “Earn”, then “Products”, and click “+ New product”.

Convertkit online course
All products in ConvertKit are under Earn > Products.

You’ll be prompted to complete three steps: product details, fulfillment, and domain name. The prompts are easy to follow, but in upcoming sections, we’ll cover exactly what you need to do based on how you want to deliver the course.

For now, you need to know that this is the sales page you’ll see once you complete the third step and click “Create Product”:

ConvertKit sales page
The sales page editor in ConvertKit.

The page structure is simple: image on the left, text details on the right. Use this space to tell your audience your online course's value, benefits, and specifics, and tweak all elements to your colors and fonts with formatting settings.

Powerful information to add on your sales page include:

  • A compelling headline
  • Who this course is for and its outcome
  • Testimonials
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Pricing details
  • Course format and/or length
  • Call-to-action (CTA)

For example, this sales page for Paradigm Nutrition’s course outlines the course outcome, who it’s for, presale information, and the timeline for course delivery.

The Break Up course sales page. Image via Paradigm Nutrition.

Check out this sales page for The Bliss Bean’s productivity course. Even though it’s short, it does a great job of painting a picture of what the course can help students achieve. It also details the focus and format of course materials and links out to a page with testimonials.

The Bliss Bean
21 Days to Productive Flow course sales page. Image via The Bliss Bean.

Use your sales page to provide potential buyers with details they need to make a decision and don’t be afraid to experiment with different approaches.

Start selling within minutes

As a creator, you deserve to get paid for your work. ConvertKit Commerce is ready-made to help you sell digital products.

Get paid with ConvertKit Commerce

Build and deliver an online course with ConvertKit

There are three ways to sell an online course through ConvertKit: as a drip email course, as a zip folder, and by self-hosting your course material.

Option 1: Deliver your teaching as an email course that drips out

You can use the email course format by dripping out one course video per day, along with supporting materials like workbooks and exercises.

Here’s how to set that up.

Step 1: Create a new product in ConvertKit

In your ConvertKit dashboard, click “Products” under the “Earn” tab. Next, click “+ New product.”

Then, complete the three sections as prompted:

1. Product details: name, pricing method, priceConvertKit product setup

2. Fulfillment: select “Something Else”

ConvertKit product setup

3, Domain name: choose your domain and URL and click “Create Product”

ConvertKit product setup

Step 2: Upload your course material as an email sequence

For this step, head to your sequences by clicking “Send” and then “Sequences.” Then click “+ New sequence.”

Email sequences are under Send > Sequences.

Give your sequence a name and click “Create Sequence.” This action will take you to this view:

The email sequence editor in ConvertKit.

On the left, you can edit your first course email. Create a great course experience by adding:

  • Video lesson: upload a video from your computer or add a link from Vimeo, YouTube, or Wistia
  • Files: upload a downloadable file, like a PDF
  • Text instructions: add other details as plain text or lists
  • Links: share any external resources for the lesson, like articles or recommended products

All options are available to you through the plus sign on the left of the text field, as well as after you select a portion of the text.

This will let you create a rich content experience within a single email.

At the top, you can change how many days after the previous email will this email be sent.

On the right, you can add more emails and use the hamburger icon to reorder your emails by clicking and dragging them. Keep adding emails and content until you’ve covered your entire course content.

Edit the order of emails in your sequence.

Once you’re happy with all your emails for this course, hit “Publish” at the bottom of each email, so they’re ready to go out after a new student joins the course.

Tip: Use the “Settings” button at the top right corner to tweak your sequence schedule and what your emails look like.

Step 3: Connect new purchases with your email sequence through an automation

Finally, jump into “Automate”, then “Visual Automations”, and hit the “+ New Automation” button.

Automations are under Automate > Visual Automations.

Next, click “Start from scratch”:

The trigger for this automation is a new course purchase. To set it up, follow these steps:

  1. Select “Purchase” as the trigger
  2. Select “Commerce” as the source of the purchase
  3. Select the name you used when setting up your online course as a product
  4. Click “Add Event”
Set the course purchase as automation trigger.

Then, set up the delivery of the email sequence with your course. Here’s how:

  1. Below the trigger you’ve set up, click the plus sign
  2. Select “Action,” then “Email sequence” as the next step
  3. Select the name of the email sequence that delivers your lessons
  4. Click “Add Action”
Set the email sequence delivery as the result of the trigger.

When you’re done, rename your automation and toggle it on to make sure it’s running.

Option 2: Deliver your course as a zip folder

Add all your course videos and other materials to a folder on your computer and divide them into subfolders for individual lessons if needed. Right-click your main course folder and select the option to compress it.

In ConvertKit, go to your “Products” tab and click “+ New product”. Follow the prompts, but this time under the Fulfillment step select “A Digital Download”.

Upload your zip folder before clicking “Next”. When you’re ready, you can customize your sales page, checkout page, confirmation page, and receipt email as usual. And you’re done!

Option 3: Self-host your online course and sell it through ConvertKit

One way to do this is by using plugins for courses and memberships, like WP Courseware or MemberPress.

Another way is using Notion to host your course materials. For example, Steph Smith and Calvin Rosser sell their course Doing Time Right through a third-party service and then invite new customers to the following Notion setup.

The dashboard for the Doing Time Right online course.

While this might look simple, behind this layout are dozens of text lessons, videos, exercises, tutorials, and templates that add up to more than 200 pages in book format.

Jules Acree, a wellness content creator, hosts her Simplify & Thrive course on Notion. In fact, it’s one of this course’s selling points as it makes it more actionable.

Sales page for the Simplify & Thrive online course. Image via Jules Acree.

To set this up, you can follow a similar process to the one under Option 1, but the sequence you’d create would only be one email with information about accessing the course on an external platform.

Follow these steps:

1. Create a new product in ConvertKit under Earn > Products, “+ New product”. Follow the prompts to set your product up. Under “Fulfillment”, select “Something Else”.

2. Create a new email sequence under Send > Sequences, “+ New sequence”. Create one email inside the sequence and add course access details.

3. Create a new visual automation under Automate > Visual Automations, “+ New Automation”. Set up the course purchase as the trigger, and your new email sequence as the action.

4. Double-check available settings on your sequence and automation, and make sure both are published and toggled on.

Hosting your course with a tool like Notion will take you some time to set up and customize, but it gives you lots of control over your course experience.

Sell a course from online course platforms with ConvertKit

If you prefer to use an online course platform to run your course—think Teachable, Podia, or Thinkific—you can still sell it through ConvertKit Commerce.

This gives you an advantage because you’ll get a complete overview of your sales and revenue, as well as manage your audience of subscribers and customers, all in one place.

To sell your course this way, you’ll need to use Zapier to connect ConvertKit purchases with enrollments on your platform of choice.

Here are the steps to follow if you want to connect ConvertKit and Teachable:

1. Create a Zapier account if you don’t have one, and log in.

2. Head to ConvertKit + Teachable page on Zapier. This page will list popular workflows between the two apps.

3. Go through available triggers and actions (as shown on the screenshot below) until you find a “New Purchase” trigger with the ConvertKit logo on the left side and an “Enroll User in Course” action with the Teachable logo on the right side. Click the “Connect ConvertKit + Teachable” button.

4. Follow Zapier’s prompts to connect your ConvertKit and Teachable accounts to it.

5. Customize your zap by choosing a product purchase in ConvertKit as a trigger and the course the customer will be enrolled into in Teachable.

6. Test your zap and turn it on.

That’s it! If you use a different platform, the process is similar. Head to Zapier’s integration pages for ConvertKit and Podia, Thinkific, and other course platforms and follow prompts to get set up.

Keep in mind: You can also use native ConvertKit integrations with these platforms. This means you can sell your course through course platforms, but track revenue and subscriber insights in ConvertKit. However, keep in mind that some of these platforms charge higher transaction fees. ConvertKit Commerce has a low, 3.5%+30c transaction fee.

Promote your online course

Now that your systems are in place, it’s time to take deliberate action to get your online course in front of your target audience. This step is crucial to getting the impact and revenue you want.

Grab your course link from ConvertKit by opening your product, clicking “Publish”, and copying the product link you see.

Get your sales page link through the Publish button.

Here are some ideas to inspire you:

1. Add your online course link to places you already have an audience on

Are you active on Instagram? Have a regular newsletter or a membership community? What about a blog or a YouTube channel?

The touchpoints you already have with your audience are a great place to add your course link to.

This strategy is what Elise Dopson and Michael Keenan, founders of membership community Peak Freelance, do for their paid email templates in every newsletter edition.

The Peak Freelance newsletter.

And Jules Acree lists her Simplify & Thrive course on her link in bio landing page, putting her course in front of her 80,000+ Instagram followers.

Jules Acree’s link-in-bio page. Image via Jules Acree.

Grab a landing page template for your own link in bio page

2. Turn a course lesson into a free lead magnet

Giving a course lesson for free is a win-win situation: you gain a new subscriber, and your new subscriber gets a quick and easy improvement.

It helps you grow trust from subscribers positions you as the expert in your field. And once they get a win from your free lesson, they’re likely to want more!

A great example comes from Creatorialz. By signing up, you get a first lesson about Canva for free.

Free lesson landing page by Creatorialz. Image via Creatorialz.

Get this landing page template

3. Post student testimonials on social media

Social proof is powerful. It shows your potential customers what’s possible for them if they join you inside the course.

And while testimonials are among best practices for landing pages, this strategy also works on social media.

Check out how Nesha Woolery, a business mentor, did this when running a Black Friday discount for her courses.

Nesha Woolery’s Instagram post with student testimonials. Image via Nesha Woolery.

Tip: If this is your first time launching this course and you don’t have testimonials yet, ask your subscribers or past customers to write one about your teaching. Then, once you have a few happy students in your new course, make sure to reach out to them for testimonials.

4. Run a giveaway and give free access to your course to a winner

Giveaways can do two things at once: grow your audience (on social media or email list) and create buzz around your course.

For example, when one of your rewards is free access to a paid course, people will want to know more about it. And if they need to follow you or subscribe to enter, they’ll be easy to reach when you want to promote your course again.

A great example comes from Mariah Coz, the founder of Fearless CEO, who gave away free access to two of her courses that otherwise cost $5,400.

Course giveaway by Mariah Coz. Image via Mariah Coz.

You can run your giveaway on social media and grow your following, or use a tool like KingSumo to focus your giveaway on email list building.

5. Teach a free webinar and pitch your course at the end

Another way to give your potential students valuable content for free is by teaching a webinar on a topic related to your course. This will give them steps and tips to win before giving you their money.

Then, at the end of the webinar, you can pitch your online course as the next logical step from what they’ve learned. Even if they don’t buy it right away, you can give them a webinar replay and a chance to not only revisit your free teaching but reconsider your course.

You can also turn the webinar replay into an evergreen lead magnet, so you can repeat this process on autopilot and grow subscribers and sales without doing any extra work.

This is exactly what Cara Chace does with her free Pinterest masterclass, which then pitches her Pin Power Method course and membership:

Cara Chace’s free Pinterest masterclass with a course upgrade. Image via Cara Chace.

Bonus: Check out how Cara uses ConvertKit to grow her audience and revenue with opt-ins and evergreen automations!

Follow up with buyers and non-buyers after launch

The best thing you can do after someone shows interest in your course—whether they purchased it or not—is to stay in touch and look for more ways to create value for them.

But doing so manually isn’t easy or sustainable in the long run. That’s what makes automations so powerful.

1. Connect with your new course students

After you’ve delivered your course content, your students may dive right in or stagger their course activity over a longer period.

Either way, it’s good to remind them how to access what they need and reach you in case they need further support.

At the end of your course delivery automation, add an action to add the “Onboarded” tag.

Tag your onboarded students.

This will then trigger a follow-up automation. In this example, a week after receiving the course, these subscribers will receive follow-up emails.

With these emails, you can prompt them to share how they’re doing in the course so far, give them extra resources, options for getting support, and anything else that’s relevant.

Automation to follow up with onboarded students and offer resources and support.

Use this automation for course buyers

2. Connect with people who haven’t purchased

Those that haven’t purchased your course aren’t necessarily uninterested. They may have missed your initial launch emails, intended to sign up but forgot, or needed some more information.

This is where visual automation comes in. When subscribers sign up, they receive a sequence of emails that pitch your product. Then, based on whether they’ve clicked through to your online course page, you can send them a reminder to check it out, a follow-up sequence to learn why they haven’t yet purchased it, or an option to purchase a lower-cost product.

By doing this, you’ll reach more potential buyers and learn about their thoughts and challenges around purchasing your course.

Automation to follow up with non-buyers.

Use this automation for course non-buyers

Start selling your course with ConvertKit today

We gave you all the steps and tips you need to build and launch your course with ConvertKit.

The next action is yours: get your ConvertKit account and start building your course today.

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Marijana Kay

Marijana Kay is a freelance writer for leading B2B SaaS companies. She uses data-backed, actionable content to help them hit and exceed their growth goals. In her spare time, she collects books and logs running miles.

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