How to Prep For a Course Launch Without Losing Your Mind

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Congratulations! The mere fact that you started reading this tells me you’ve either already launched a course (and want to be sure you are extra prepped for next time around) or that you’re considering adding a course to your offerings (and you know launching can take it out of even the bravest of souls).

Before I started working at ConvertKit, I launched several of my own courses and even worked with others as their launch manager – aka Sanity Saver – during that time. And I saw it all. From courses that cleared $30,000 in profit in 3 days to those that netted right around $2,000 after a two week launch period came to a close. I saw the highs, the lows, and the humanness of it all.

And now I’m going to teach you everything I know so you can launch your course without losing your mind.

Consider me your own personal Sanity Saver™.

So you want to know how to prep for a course launch without losing your mind? There are just 5 things to remember when you’re launching a course that will keep you clear-headed and focused on what matters most. Let’s unpack them:

1) Size Doesn’t Matter

You’d think for an email marketing company we’d be telling you that you should have bigger lists, more subscribers, more opt ins! Luckily for you, we just aren’t that kind of email marketing company.  

You’ve probably heard that you should wait to launch your course until you have 1,000 subscribers. Here’s a hard fact for ya: you do not need a large list to have a successful course launch.

Bryan Harris launched a product to a list of 575 people and made $8,337!

Kathryn Hocking made $5k from just 140 people on her list.

And there’s plenty more examples where those came from.

The point here is that you don’t have to have a big list in order to launch your course. You just have to set your expectations around what you do have. According to Teachable, you can rely on .02 (2%) of your email list subscribers buying your course. If you already have over 1,000 subscribers… great! Set your launch goals a little higher. If your list is sitting at a couple hundred but a course is burning a hole in your virtual pocket, don’t let your list size stop you. Just set your financial goals a bit lower to account for the smaller list size. Here’s Teachable’s “Magic Formula”:

 

magic formula
 

See: 1 + 1 never equals 0. So now let’s focus on what matters most.

2) Launch Before It’s Done

That’s right. Before you even finish the course, stop. Better yet, start with making a few basic decisions:

  • Format – will you do an email course, video, host it on Teachable, a membership site?
  • Content – draw up an outline of what will go into each lesson, if there are bonuses, etc.
  • Sales Platform – does your format include taking payments for you or will you need to take some time to sort out Stripe/Paypal/Carrier Pigeon? (that last one is not recommended)
  • The Model – will your course be “evergreen” and always be available to anyone who wants it or will you close the doors to the course after a set launch period?
  • Audience – is there a section of your audience this course is perfect for?

Once you’ve made those decisions, a sales page comes together quickly and you can market and sell the course before you create it. This is commonly referred to as a Minimum Viable Product and it’s a great way to see what kind of response there is to your course idea.

With an MVP out there, you have the opportunity to pivot the content, messaging, or entire product based on the response from your audience. You’ll also generate revenue instantly as the pre-sales come rolling in. That revenue can fuel you to get the work done late at night or even allow you to take on one less client so you have the time to build the course materials during your regular working hours.

3) Spend Time on Your Sales Funnel

Up front, you’re going to spend more time on your sales funnel than you are on the course itself. If that sounds backwards, just go with me here. First, what’s a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is otherwise known as a “customer journey” (a term I prefer, actually) and it’s how your audience moves through your emails and sales page to end up purchasing the product. Your funnel may also include what happens after the purchase but we’ll leave that for the next step. For now, let’s look at the sales funnel.

Step #1 is to consider how your audience will first learn about your course. We, of course, love announcing new courses and offerings to your email list first but you could certainly go another route. You could host a webinar, run ads, share in a group, or run a new opt-in with a free video series or downloadable.

Once your audience is primed and ready to hear about the details, it’s time to consider your overall sales funnel. It’s time, my friend, to talk email.

Remember all of those clients I’ve helped launch courses through the years? Every single one of them shared the course with their email list. And, if they were lucky and had an email marketing program that allowed for tagging and segmenting (cough cough ConvertKit cough), they had a strong email funnel setup to support their sales. 

Email is a way to reach your biggest fans.

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The beauty of email as the mainstay of your sales funnel is that you can set it all up completely in advance! Once your emails are written and scheduled, you can sit back and relax.

But how do I know what to send and when???

I hear you. And I have a little something for you called The Crazy 8 Launch Strategy from our pals at Teachable.

The full strategy is available to download right here but I want to give you an overview first:

Day 1: Course teaser
Day 2: “What is the course?” email
Day 3: “Course opens” email
Day 4: FAQ email
Day 5: Surprise Bonus email
Day 6: Thank You & Social Proof email
Day 7: Logic + Course Closing email
Day 8: Last Chance 3 email series

And that’s it! Easy, right? (Go ahead and get the full guide. I did and it’s exactly what every course builder needs to feel comfy with all those emails.)

Remember: this step is where I want you to spend the bulk of your time in your launch. Of course, ConvertKit makes all of this email business really simple. Just ask Mariah Coz.

4) Take Care of Your Customers

This is where you have to pay attention to what happens after they pay.

Imagine this: You’re buying an expensive pair of jeans from a high-end denim shop. They help you select the right jeans for your body type, talk to you about all of your options, and even tell you how good you look in the jeans you finally settle on. You’re excited to get home and take these babies out on the town but they tell you it will be two weeks before the tailor will have them back and ready for ya. That’s okay, you think to yourself, I love them anyways. Excited for the arrival, you hand over your credit card to the cashier. As soon as the card processes, the cashier hands you your card back without even looking at you, says “You’re done”, and then walks away. You turn around and find no one in the store and you’re left wondering how you’ll know when your jeans are ready to be picked up. You walk away empty handed and confused and spend the rest of the afternoon looking at your pending charge on your card statement wondering if you have made a big mistake.

^^^ That ^^^ is what it’s like to buy a pre-sale of a course and hear crickets afterwards. It’s not a great first impression, to say the least.

So what can you do? Remember, I’m here to tell you! You could:

  • Have a custom thank you page after checkout with a photo of you and a note about the next steps
  • Send a follow up sequence that keeps your new purchasers (aka new best friends) updated and ready to rock as soon as the course lands in their laps
  • Include a link to a survey in the post-sales email where they can share their snail mail address so you can send a handwritten card while they wait.
  • Use the thank you page to ask them to tweet their excitement to the world… and then respond to the tweet with a personal video saying thank you.
  • Invite them to join a Facebook Group or Slack Channel just for course participants so they can all say hi and share in the pre-course fun.

There are so many ways to get personal in the follow up from the sale. The biggest thing to remember is that you want to get to them before they get to you. Email them the answers to their questions before they even ask. Get them what they need before they come hunting you down for it.

Keep your customers happy and they’ll refer your course to their friends. After all, we all appreciate a little love and it truly does go a long way in this case!

5) Enjoy It!

In my experience, there are few things that have as many highs and lows as launching a course. It’s also incredibly personal so you have to be sure to take care of yourself in the process.

Note: this is the step most people skip and it’s incredibly crucial. Don’t skip it!

Taking care of yourself in your launch means different things to different people. For some it’s hiring a launch manager to help manage the parts and pieces, for others it’s treating themselves to takeout lunch every day they get a sale so they don’t have to worry about meal prep too. I even had one client send herself flowers every day for the 5 days of her course launch – getting that special delivery was so much more exciting than a trip to the store to pick them up herself!

You do you, just remember to enjoy the launch process. It’s true that nothing lasts forever and launching will be over before you know it so you might as well enjoy the ride.

Don’t Lose Your Mind. Launch Your Course With Ease!

Launching a course for the first time or the 30th time can be stressful, but with these 5 reminders you can sail through it like a pro. What else do you do to ensure a successful course launch? Share your tips in the comments below!

Val Geisler

Val is a yogi, mom, military wife, and avid podcast fan. She is ridiculously obsessed with sharing and creating content that actually makes a difference in the world, connecting with her fellow bloggers, and doing more with less effort. Val is based on Columbus, Ohio (O-H!) and can often be found oversharing on Instagram at @lovevalgeisler.

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