If you’re considering turning your expertise into a new revenue stream and teaching an online course on a topic you love, you probably have the same question I had.
How do you convince people to pay for it?
You convince them three ways.
First, with a course you’re sure the market wants—one that’s so rich in content and packed with so many meaty learning tools that people are practically begging you to sign up. But how do you know for sure they want it? Do you guess? How many times have you guessed before offering a product or service?
Be honest. How has that worked out for you?
Second, you convince them with sales page that explains clearly what they will receive and why they’d be crazy to pass up the value. But what if you don’t know how to write sales copy?
Third, with testimonials from happy customers. Sounds good. But how do you collect testimonials if you haven’t launched the course yet?
Start with a Pilot Course
I’d heard about pilot courses before but figured they were too much trouble. Why fool around with an experiment when I can create the real deal?
Then Danny Iny, formerly of Firepole Marketing, convinced me I was wrong.
Two years ago, I took his course called Course Builders Laboratory because I was tired of working just as hard to sell a $49.95 webinar as I might if I had created a $500 course. I had taken a few other courses from Danny, and I trusted him 100 percent. I spent two weekends devouring what he taught. After teaching online for almost 20 years, I was shocked to learn all the mistakes I had been making.
Danny recommended offering a pilot as a way to eventually create the best content possible and also collect those all-important raving testimonials from delighted customers.
A pilot helps you test your teaching skills with a small group of students. They understand that it’s a pilot and that they’re taking the course, usually at a discount, on the condition that they provide feedback for you as often as possible. At the end of the course, if they’re convinced it was valuable—and only if—you’ll ask for a testimonial.
Your Students Teach the Teacher
Students love giving feedback because it gives them the power to teach the teacher.
In spring of 2016, I offered my Author Email Boot Camp, a six part series of live webinars designed to teach authors how to use email to build a platform, turn fans into “super fans,” and sell more books. I knew authors needed the course because I kept hearing from far too many of them who wanted to start building an email list two weeks before they launched their book—about 12 months too late.
Thirteen students registered for my pilot course, and most of them showed up for each session and asked questions.
Email marketing has a lot of moving parts that are interconnected—concepts that can be difficult to grasp without technical ability. Email marketing includes autoresponder messages, broadcasts, blog broadcasts, list management best practices, bounce rates, open rates and conversion rates. If you stick with it and mail valuable content regularly, email marketing can be your most profitable marketing tool.
But I wasn’t confident I could teach the technical parts. My pilot program, it turned out, was a security blanket that made me smarter.
By the end of the course, my students suggested two killer learning tools I should add that would help them understand quickly and easily how the whole email marketing puzzle fits together. How could I not have thought of this?????
How to Record Video Testimonials
The beauty of a pilot is that you can also collect killer testimonials to use as social proof that the course is not only worth taking, but that you’re a fun, expert teacher. Video testimonials are most effective.
Yet most people hate recording them. They don’t want to hassle with camera equipment and most “don’t know what to say off the top of my head.” I recorded four video testimonials and one audio testimonial from my customers and I used them on the sales page when I launched the course last year:
Rave Reviews from Boot Camp Attendees:
Dr. Jeri Fink,
Author of 27 books, Family Therapist, Photographer
Here’s how I did it.
- I bought SuperTinTin, a $29.95 software program that records Skype video. That means my students talked to me in the confort of their home or office, and not in a big fancy studio with lights glaring in their eyes.
- I asked each student a series of five questions about the course—what they liked, what they can now do that they didn’t know before, and what they’d say to people who are on the fence about buying the email course. All they had to is answer the questions.
- I hired a cheap video transcriber on Fiverr.com.
- I reviewed the transcript and determined which “chunks” of the video I wanted to use, and in what order.
- I gave the instructions to my video editor.
- I inserted the edited videos onto my sales page.
Since launching in February last year, the course has generated more than $20,000, including the pilot.
I’m using all the strategies in Danny’s Course Builders Laboratory to build my second course which should be ready this spring.
How to Get Started Building Courses
Here are the top 3 things I loved most about Course Builders Laboratory.
- One-on-one calls with my dedicated coach. My coach even listened in on my pilot program lessons and made valuable suggestions about how to make the content easier for students to absorb.
- The worksheets. They kept me on track, and gave me assignments to do as I was taking the course. By the time I was done, all my assignments were competed.
- Unlimited email support. Danny’s team was super-fast getting the answers back to me.
The beauty of the Course Builder’s Laboratory is that you don’t need to finish your course to sell it. In fact, the most effective way to build a successful online course is to have people pay you BEFORE the course is created.
If you want to learn more about how to build a course people will buy and rave about, see all the details here. If you have questions, you can ask in the comments below. Or call me at 262-284-7451.